The beach at Santa Clara has beautiful white sand and rocky cliffs. We found an ocean front bungalow for $88/night. It was five steps to the beach and ten steps to the restaurant/bar and ice-cold cevezas’.
If you are in the area, we recommend Xoko Restaurant located at the entrance off the main freeway into Santa Clara. They have outstanding fresh fish dishes in the evenings. The wine is reasonably priced and they have excellent service.
We saw first hand how plentiful the fish are in the area. Shown below are photos of the locals pulling a seine net on the beach. I would estimate in one pull, over the course of 2 hours, they caught in excess of 800 lbs of fresh grouper, mahi, red snapper, sea bass and tuna.
See a short YouTube video here
It’s pretty obvious where I am in this photo. (hint: the pale white boy)
After thinking about this a few weeks, I am wondering if these guys baited these fish in some way. It’s just too big a catch in too small an area!
Whatever the bait was, all fish seemed to universally love it!
How to Find This Place
Playa Santa Clara is southwest of Panama City along the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1). It is about 1 1/2 hours from downtown Panama City. Look for a small sign on the left for Playa Santa Clara. Go down the road almost to the end and veer to the right along a dirt road. You will see a sign for Las Veranera when you get there. Park in the lot and walk to the restaurant to book a room.
Along the way, we took a detour and drove up the mountain to El Valle which is a fabulous town with some terrific markets. It is about 40 minutes off the ocean highway,
We rented a car from Dollar Rental. They delivered it to our downtown hotel and we dropped it off at the airport. The drivers in Panama City are actually fairly sane so I would recommend a rental car if you want to get out of the city. Definitely request a GPS to take the stress out of finding your way.
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