A Hidden Slice of Paradise: Playa Venao, Panama
Ask people where they have visited in Panama, and not many will say Playa Venao. Perhaps it is because people want to keep this tiny beach spot secret, or they don’t know about it.
Without trying to promote it too heavily, I do want to quietly share this beach and surf break with you because it truly is amazing.
About a five hour drive from Panama City, Playa Venao is a beach town tucked away on the Pacific side of Panama.
There are a few hotels/hostels lined up right along the black sand beach, a handful of restaurants, and a fancy convenience store - and that’s it.
If you’re looking for place to chill out, surf, or relax, (it’s known for surfing so there are surf classes available from Selina or Beach Break Surf Camp) this is your place.
Where we stayed
We stayed at Selina as per usual, which is the trendy hostel chain the company I was working for was partnering with.
The Playa Venao location was the very first Selina, and after staying in five different Selinas, it was my favorite one!
They have colorful little house-looking rooms, teepee style huts, and both private and dorm rooms, in addition to their other typical amenities like the “playground” (bar/restaurant) and a separate yoga deck that had bean bags and hammocks set out when classes weren’t going on. With a pool looking out toward the ocean, it truly feels like paradise.
We took surf lessons one day - it was my first time surfing, ever, and I stood up a few times! - and it was really fun. We took the lesson through Selina and kept the boards after so we could attempt to ride more waves.
Our friend Carlos who works at Selina walked us over to Playita, which is another beach that has tide pools. it is about a 30-minute walk through the main beach and some forest but is easy if you’re with someone who knows how to get there.
Where to Eat
Two restaurants we tried were Pizza Gavilante and Colelos, which were literally right next to Selina. (Again, it’s a tiny beach town…not even a town!)
Pizza Gavilante has this amazing shrimp nacho dip that you have to try. The manager also has a dog that can skateboard! Very cute.
Colelos is a Medterranean restaurant that also has some Asian items like pad thai and curry fried rice which were pretty good as well.
instead of this post being a “top 10 list” or “things you must do” in Playa Venao, I hope this post shares some of the magic you’ll discover in this gem on the pacific side of Panama!