Punta Chame is a long, narrow peninsula that juts into the Pacific Ocean, an ideal day trip from Panama City. Friends told us to check it out, saying that few people come to visit its beaches, even on weekends, and is therefore an ideal place for anyone looking for a bit of time away from the city hordes.
It's so easy to get to … just head across Panama's iconic bridge, Puente de las Americas, and continue along the Pan-American Highway. About 90 minutes later you'll see the big green and white sign for Punta Chame on your left. Then the adventure begins.
Once off the highway the scenery changes. We navigated over hills on a small, winding road past beautiful lakes and farmland, and soon the trees disappeared and we began to view small mountains to the west.
Then man-made lakes appeared. They reminded us so much of the fish farms in Timor, Indonesia that when we found an open gate along the way we just had to drive in to explore a bit. Sure enough, it was laid out just the same, so that's probably what it was.
As we drove further, small tidal lakes appeared with sun-bleached tree stumps sticking out of calm waters to reflect the mountains in the distance. We knew that the surf was near and the drive was almost over.
Arriving at Punta Chame Beach
If you go during the week like we did you may discover that you have the sun, sand and ocean to yourself. Once past a collection of buildings, the paved road comes to an end and tire tracks in the dirt wind down to the beach, proof that if you have a good 4×4, you can keep driving!
A seemingly endless, peaceful and stunning white sand beach wraps around the point and beckons you to walk in peace and quiet, or to throw down the towel and jump into the waves. So we did.
Once we'd spread our towels on the warm sand and shot a few photos, we slathered on sunscreen and hit the waves. The water was pleasantly warm and the views from the water wonderful. There were fluffy white clouds piling up over the land in the distance. They practically blended in with the white sand.
After finishing our swim and catching some rays, Dan and I headed out along the beach to walk towards the point. We passed small cliffs of sand that were taller than we were, cut into the sand by the Pacific's high tides.
Past several islands in the distance we could barely make out Panama City through the afternoon haze. Around the point, back up the coastline, we also glimpsed a nearby resort, Nitro City. Yet we felt so far away from it all on this secluded beach.
Lunch at Nitro City
Two of our kids had accompanied us and we teased our son Chris that he was as white as the sand. As in any other tropical country Panama's sun can be brutal so when he started looking a bit like a cooked lobster, we packed up to go to Nitro City for lunch. This hotel is full of action-packed possibilities: dirt biking, sail boarding, a machine that pulls you across the water and over ski jumps … and for those seeking less excitement they have a pool and pool bar.
It was tempting to just slide into the water and relax on those lounge chairs, but we were just too hungry. We ordered local beers and grilled corvina and when our meals arrived on our table, we were shocked to see how large they were; each platter held a whole and very tasty fish!
Other places to eat
The town of Punta Chame itself is small: only about 400 inhabitants. There is another hotel there, and after we got back I found out that there's a less expensive local bar-restaurant that serves typical meals, several seafood dishes, and highly recommended ceviche. It's located near the sign saying Taborcillo Island. It'll be a Must Try the next time we head that way.
Punta Chame's now on our list of fun day trips from Panama City. Go during the week and you'll have the beach to yourself … unless we are there first!