Puerto Armuelles Panama Is A Wonderful Place to Call Home

View of ocean, blue sky, swirl of white clouds, pier

View From Downtown Puerto Armuelles (Photo by Walda)

Puerto Armuelles Panama is the only true beach town in Panama

It is right on the beach.

You’d think in a country with so much coastline that there would be many towns on the beach.

That is not the case.

Many towns in Panama are near, but not on, the beach.

Pedesi and Tonosi on the Azuero Pennisula come to mind.   Nice towns.  We particularly like Pedesi. But the beach is quite the hike from those towns.

Well I guess, San Carlos qualifies as a town on the beach.  But San Carlos lacks a downtown center and is a much smaller than Puerto Armuelles.

Panama does have cities on the beach, like Panama City and Colon.  It also has resort and vacation home areas on the beach, like Coronado. As well as a number of smaller fishing and surfing-orientated villages.

Google Map Showing Location of Puerto Armuelles

Puerto Armuelles Is A Charming Beach Town

Puerto Armuelles is Panama’s only true beach town.

Puerto Armuelles is also a charming town that values its beach location.

It has a park right on the beach (photo above was taken from that park).  As well as another park and playground across the street. (You can see more photos of Puerto here.)

Its pier, although badly in need of repair, is very popular with those who love to fish.

Puerto Armulless has a over 20 thousand residents, including a growing population of expats.

Puerto has just the right population to make the town vibrant, even bustling at times.

Click Here for Aerial Tour Puerto Armuelles On A Flying Trike.

Puerto Armuelles is A Unique Town

For eighty years Puerto Armuelles was a Chiquita Banana company town.    

White wooden house with red roof

An House Built For Executives By Chiquita

Chiquita’s engineers and designers put their stamp on everything from the city’s street grid to wooden houses on stilts, of which Chiquita built by the thousands.

The Chiquita look is the classic tropical colonial look that one would expect to see in an old movie such as the African Queen.

With its broad overhangs and hardwood ventilated window openings, the Chiquita houses provide good shade, and are raised above the damp and the bugs of the tropics.

The spaces in some of the executive houses are absolutely huge, with ten foot ceilings, and open floor plans of as much as 3000 square feet per floor.

Hot Pink woodenHouse with flowers and white cement fence

Colorful House In The Carmen Neighborhood

These houses, painted every color of the rainbow,  give a very charming and unique look to Puerto.

Chiquita built whole neighborhoods to house its different classes of workers.    All of these houses have the Chiquita look.

Of course, the town also has the typical cement house you find throughout Central and South America.

The “Chiquita Factor” has made Puerto Armuelles far different from any other Panamanian town.

Puerto has been compared to Golfito, just across the border in Costa Rica, which was another Chiquita Built town.

2 story wooden buildings along asphalt road

The San Jose Neighborhood, Near The Center Of Town.

Since Chiquita left Puerto the town has not been well-maintained, on the other hand Golfito has been well-maintained.

Another big difference is that Golfito has become quite “precious”, and as with the rest of Costa Rica, Golfito is generally more expensive than Panama.

To learn more about the various areas of Puerto Armuelles, visit its neighborhoods:  Click here for downtown area tour.

You can get pretty much everything you need in Puerto Armuelles.

You can purchase everything from building supplies and cell phones,  to pesto, and broccoli.

For most of the time Chiquita was here, Puerto Armuelles was only accessible only by train or boat.

Puerto now has a well-maintained paved road connecting it to the rest of Chiriqui and beyond.

(In fact, that road will soon be expanded from its 2 lanes to 4 lanes)

Puerto is about 40 minutes away from the Costa Rica border crossing at Paso Canoas.  Pasa Canoas has a number of good shopping malls, as well as a Burger King and Subway.

It is about an hour or so drive from David.  David is the largest city in the Chiriqui Province.

David is significantly larger than Puerto.  Although, Puerto Armuelles is the 2nd largest city in Chiriqui.

You can buy pretty much everything you need in Puerto Armuelles.    However, there is definately more selection in David.

David is the big shopping mecca in the area.  They even have something like a Costco there. It is called PriceSmart.

We go to David  every two or three months, mostly to get some specialty items and to do some bulk shopping at PriceSmart.

We enjoy going to David.   It seems there is something new there every time we visit.   Our favorite dentist is there as well.

We like to go shopping in David.  But we are always happy to get back home to Puerto.

Clisk to Browse Our Puerto Armuelles Real Estate Listings.

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  1. Fantastic information. Yours is the most interesting and fun to read website about Panama that I have seen so far. I am seriously considering moving to Panama, and will be flying there soon, within the next few weeks. I am wondering what the climate is like there. Also cost of living which I will try to find online.
    Again, beautiful site!

  2. Hello, Please include me on your mailing list. Thank you

    • Hi,
      It is best if you sign up for the newsletter at the top of the page. This is because you will need to respond to an email confirming your subscription.


  3. Richard Morrison :

    Hi Betsy,

    I am considering coming to panama in the next month or so for a couple of months.
    I would like to stay in a condo on or near beach area. Your area seems to be what I would be very interested in retiring to. I love to surf fish and kayak fish in calm waters.
    Are there affordable rentals near the water ? I live in New England, what is the best way to get to Puerto from Boston MA. Is it better to fly to Costa Rica and drive from there with a company
    What is the most popular way for people to travel there? Multble flights or drive from Panama City
    Or other airport.
    Any suggestion or help would be greatly appreciated.

    Many Thank,

  4. Hi Betsy, I first came across you website kind of by accident but have been back a couple of times on purpose.
    I have fond memories of Puerto Armuelles from the early 60’s when I arranged a golf tournament between a team from United Fruit Co and Hadquarters US Army Caribean from Fort Amador. At that time, I was the Army’s community relations officer for all Latin America except Mexico. We flew into the airport on the golf course and had a wonderful time. One of the people in our group was an American Catholic priest who had formerly been the pastor in Puerto Armuelles.

    Most likely all of the people I met during that visit have either died or have moved on to other places. One of them was a young woman who had recently graduated from a Catholic women’s college in Albany, NY. Her father was a manager of some kind for United Fruit.

    I’ve enjoyed your website and wish I could visit Puerto Armeulles again but that’s not likely.

    Jack Leonard

    • Hi Jack,

      I’m glad you found my site and that you enjoy it.

      I hear from a number of people who have fond memories of Puerto Armuelles.
      A couple of months ago I talked with a man who was the first baby born in
      Puerto Armuelles. As you know, United Fruit Company (now Chiquita) built
      this town.

      I hope you can make it to visit Puerto. I imagine you will find it changed.
      It is no longer a company town in the 1960s. But still a nice place to live.

      Best wishes,

  5. Hi! Puerto Armuelles sounds really nice. We have yet to make our first trip to Panama, as we look for a place to settle and retire, and what I’ve read here makes me want to put P.A. on our “definite visit” list. (We hope to come in 2014.) My only concern is the weather. We’re currently in Baltimore, Maryland, where summers are VERY hot and humid. The humidity is especially hard for me to handle. Could you say in Fahrenheit degrees how cool and how hot it tends to get in Puerto Armuelles? What is the typical level of humidity? (If this info is on the site already and I just haven’t run across it, please direct me.) Thanks so very much!

    • Hi Barb,
      My husband is from the DC area and we go there still to visit relatives, so I have some idea of the Baltimore weather.

      My husband always says that summers in DC are much hotter and more humid than Panama.

      Also, compared to Puerto Armuelles at least, the east coast of the US also has alot more bugs. I grew up on Long Island, NY.
      I used to be eaten alive by mosquitoes in New York. I have never experienced that level of bugs in Puerto Armuelles, or in Panama.
      Except in Bocas del Toro, I have not been bothered by bugs much in Panama. Although, a friend of mine in Puerto, who lives on a ravine with
      a stream running through it, does get bothered by mosquitoes.

      I should really provide information about Puerto’s weather on my site. Great idea.
      It is especially good since when you look up the weather for Puerto Armuelles online it it giving you the weather
      for David, not Puerto. They don’t have the same weather. Because of its position relative to the mountains and ocean,
      it rains lot more in David than in Puerto Armuelles.

      So about Puerto Armuelles’ weather. It is the tropics so Puerto is humid, but as I mentioned, not as muggy and humid as DC in the summer.
      It is cooler in the rainy season than in the dry season. For instance, in the rainy season I usually put on an over shirt when
      I get up in the morning, but I don’t do that in the dry season. Of course, I wake up early, about 5 am.

      I would say that the temperatures (in Fahrenheit) in Puerto range from a low of 73 to a high of 88.
      It does spike up into the low 90s at times during the dry season.

      The usual temperature is in the low to mid-80s.

      I hope that is helpful.
      As I mentioned in my other recent replies, I have been traveling. That is why I am late in replying to your question.

      Best wishes.

      • Been wondering what happened to your monthly newsletters, but I see that you have been away for a while.
        Anyway, back to your comment on the weather in Puerto. Here in the states if you live close or on the beach the ocean breeze seems to help with the humidity compared to inland. Do you get any kind of constant breeze in the Puerto Armuelles area to help with the humidity??

        • Betsy & Reyn :

          Hi Jim,

          I just sent off the Newsletter. You should get it within minutes.

          Yes, the ocean breeze helps with coolness & humidity here. And yes, Puerto Armuelles enjoys a nice sea breeze.
          Thanks for your patience about my Newsletter.

  6. Beach Town and “Deep Water Ocean Port”, with a Oil Super Tanker unloading facility, an Oil pipeline terminating there, and future plans for a Container Port and a possible 400,000 barrel of oil per day Refinery do not sound like compatible uses for a nice beach town to me.

    Good luck to you buying there.

    • Hi,
      Thanks for commenting, however, you may not have all your facts correct.

      For instance, the refinery project is trotted out each and every election period.
      It is for the promise of new jobs. I think people would fall over in shock if it
      actually happened. Also, given the future of oil in general, it seems an unlikely project.
      Regardless of what happens, none of these possible future projects are located
      in Puerto Armuelles itself, but in the areas outside of it.

  7. After spending the entire October 2012 in Boquete, I fell in love with Panama. Now I am looking to rent perhaps in Puerto Armuelles for this Sep and Oct. Hopefully I can purchase a property and more. I have to get somewhere quiet and peacefull.
    – Abe

    • Betsy & Reyn :

      Hi Abe, You are very smart to be spending time in the places that interest you before buying.
      Boquete is very nice. I was just got back from Volcan which is on the other side of the Volcano from Boquete.
      They both have similar and cooler mountain climate. Puerto Armuelles is warmer and dryer, and it has the beach!
      The beach for us is a necessity. So while we like to visit the mountain areas, we need to live by the ocean.

      It is really a matter of preference. I am sure you will have fun exploring and deciding.
      Please feel free to ask any question you may have here.

  8. Virginia Esbribi Miralles :

    Thank you for all your nice comments on Puerto Armuelles. I’ve been living here on and off, but since 1980, this is my home. And I love it!… Yes, a lot of things need some lifting up, but we do have nice sites to visit and the people are mostly nice and friendly. God bless you and your family.

  9. Is there any financing for Americans? Preferable single family for residential occupancy.

    • Betsy & Reyn :

      Hi Carol,

      Yes, you can get financing on a single family home as an American.

      In fact, Panamanian banks have been making it easier for foreigners to borrow money from them.
      Currently, foreigners can qualify for up to 70% financing of the purchase price. The maximum loan term is 25 years.
      You cannot borrow if you are 75 years old or older.

      To get loan for the maximum term of 25 years you must be 50 years old or under.
      You can still get a loan if you are over 50, but the term of the loan change accordingly.
      For example, if you are 65 years old, your loan can only be for 10 years at most (75 year old restriction – 65 years old = 10 year term).

      I hope that helps.

  10. My husband and I are coming to Puerto November 27 to December 09, 2012. We want to explore the area for a possible relocation in the near future. ( We are from Eastern Washington, near Spokane)
    Are there any places to stay in Puerto? We have made inquiries to Bamboo Bay as well as a place listed
    VRBO 255344.
    Thank you for your assistance.

  11. Hi,
    Tried this earlier but don’t think it went through ? Love the beach front listings but what about off the beach, a little out of town, maybe a little cheaper. Would like to stay in the 20k, cash, or below range for a lot or land. And are building materials readily available ? Would like to build a 24’+30′ “A” frame house.
    Dennis & Debbie Clay

    • Betsy & Reyn :

      Hi again Dennis,

      We have some listing – not yet on the web site – that are off the beach and out of town. Yes they are cheaper and in your range.

      Yes building materials are available.

      My husband is a builder. If you have questions about materials and the like, he is the guy to talk to.

      Give us a call. Right now, it will go to voice mail, but my husband will call you back and you can chat about all your questions.

      Our USA number is 206-734-4778.

      Best wishes,

  12. Thanks we liked your video. We are planning a trip to Panama in August – Sept of this year. We will fly into Panama city and rent a car or SUV. Where is the best place to rent a SUV for 4-6 week?
    Then we would like to talk with you about property and leasing Real Estate out safely. Thanks
    T and L

  13. Hola,…I’m looking for lodging near Punta Burica…I live part of the year in Zancudo CR…but ..every 90 days we have to leave the beach…for 3 days….Could you please porvide me with any.small hotels or lodges on the beach…

    • Hello, Punta Burica is beautiful. There are a few places to stay.

      Starting from the furthest out on Punta Burica there is Tigre Salvaje.

      Tigre Salvaje is a wildlife sanctuary located on the Pacific Coast at the end of Punta Burica near the border of Costa Rica.
      The sancutary is actively trying to save several different endangered species. Primarily monkeys, including the Red Backed Squirrel Monkey and 3 types of endangered sea turtles.

      They also have places to stay. If you cannot get ahold of them (which can be hit or miss), they promise to accommodate you if you just show up.
      This is the link for them:


      I have never stayed there, but friends of ours have and they recommend it.

      Heading back toward Puerto Armulles, you can walk to the next place, Mono Feliz.

      Mono Feliz is wonderful. We have stayed at Mono Feliz many times and love it. It is more rustic than any of the other option that I am listing here.
      However, you can usually get to feed a banana to one of the many wild monkeys that the owner has befriended over the years. Here is a Youtube video of ‘Juancho’, the owner, and feeding the monkeys: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNGIygBihag

      Mono Feliz is harder to get ahold of than Tigre Salva at times.
      However, if you show up they will always accommodate you.
      Phone (from Panama): 595-0388
      this link has some information about Mono Feliz as well

      Further along, in La Balsa, there may still be a hotel on the water. I haven’t been out there in awhile so I am not sure.

      Hooked on Panama is about 17 kilometers from Puerto Armuelles.
      It is a nice place on the beach and with a swimming pool. For more info go to:

      Soon I will have a page on our site dedicated to where to stay, but until then I hope this suffices.

  14. I am writing “If I had Only Known”, our Panama Guide, as my time allows.
    Time is always more limited than I would like, or anticipate.

    Submitted your email to be the first to learn of our Panama Guide’s publication.
    We are striving to make it the best possible.

    Also, We do not rent our properties at this time.


  15. I am interested in exploring Panama for retirement.

  16. excellent. Let us know if we can help you in any way.

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