Picture bright and colorful plazas, crashing waves, every amenity you could possible need… all in one beautiful town.
Welcome to Coronado—the perfect beach town located just an hour away from Panama City. Locally, it’s a favorite weekend hotspot due to its proximity to the city.
This place is not loved just by locals, it’s been attracting expats for years. Thanks to its access to several beaches, resorts, and restaurants of all sorts. Coronado is a perfectly balanced mix of laid-back beach vibes and bustling town.
Population: About 20,000
CULTURE IN CORONADO
Art and craft showings, live jazz and rock bands and tango lessons, student bands and choral groups, and even full orchestras are common events in Coronado. There’s even an option that allows you to buy tickets for the Teatro Nacional (in Casco Viejo, Panama City) with transportation included.
Coronado is a beach community so you can expect a casual and laid-back vibe for the most part, though it tends to liven up during the weekends.
The feel of this place is pretty “don’t worry, be happy”. You can find residents on their hammocks or walking their dogs, workers landscaping, and business owners getting ready for happy hour. Coronado is quiet and friendly during weekdays and a little crazy on weekends… best of both worlds if you ask me.
NOMAD & EXPAT COMMUNITY IN CORONADO
Coronado probably rivals Boquete as the #1 expat and retiree destination in Panama. Because Coronado is a resort town so-to-speak, the locals are friendly and most speak English. The expat community will also make you feel right at home. Though there is a large over 50 crowd, there’s a nice mix of younger expats as well.
The growing Coronado community, made up of both expats and Panamanians, provides plenty of opportunity to socialize. You’ll soon find yourself mingling with a wide blend of nationalities, including Canadian, British, American, and various South Americans. Panama has some of the best healthcare in all of Latin America.
Because it’s common now for digital nomads and freelancers to pack up their laptops and head for Coronado, this means young singles or full families complete with school-age children and maybe even teenagers. With the international school in town and other schools in the surrounding areas, Coronado is probably one of the easiest moves someone could make.
WHERE TO STAY IN CORONADO
Because the area is catered to Panama’s elite and expats, you can expect gringo pricing when it comes to rentals. That being said, you have quite the variety of luxury, ocean view rentals available starting from $1,200 a month.
You’ll find extremely affordable short-term rentals near the Coronado entrance (fully furnished apartment, 1-5 month stay for $439 a month) but prices shoot up as soon as you start to look further in. Punta Barco is by far the most expensive area.
DAY TRIPS & THINGS TO DO IN CORONADO
Coronado is a versatile community that offers many activities. The Coronado Resort is the center of activity, with a golf course, driving range and golf cart/equipment to hire, along with 4 tennis courts, an equestrian center and beach club, pools, gym and restaurants, bars and hotel.
Other activities to check out:
- Water activities and excursions offered by adventures from Buenaventura: kayak, water rides, jet skis, surf camp, bike excursions and more…
- Extreme sports and water activities in Punta Chame.
- Surf in El Palmar, Gorgona, Malibu and other beaches near Buenaventura.
- Casino and disco in Royal Decameron Panamá.
- Mantarraya Golf Club.
- Shopping at the fish market in Rio Hato.
- Delicious seafood in Los Camisones Restaurant on the Interamericana Highway.
- Lebanese food at Beirut Restaurant in Playa Blanca, Farallon.
- Tour across the “Hacienda San Isidro de Varela Hnos S.A.” in Pese, Azuero.
- Camping in the San Carlos lagoon.
- El Valle de Antón (just up in the mountains from Coronado): visit the handcraft market, thermal wells, spa, canopy activities, zoo, botanical garden, Orchid Centre, butterflies sanctuary, serpentarium; go hiking, see the trees and birds observatory, go horseback riding, visit to the Historical and Cultural Museum.
CAFES & COWORKING IN CORONADO
Cafés and restaurants in Coronado are all equipped with a good wi-fi connection.
There’s a co-working space on the 2nd floor in the Super 99 plaza and more formal co-working spaces in Costa Verde. Much of Coronado life is centered around this plaza.
Kultour Happy Days also offers a co-working space with reliable internet connection.
BARS AND NIGHTLIFE IN CORONADO
The community of Coronado has Picasso Restaurant, which is an upbeat, live music venue that regularly hosts events, happy hours, and the Coronado Association, which does fun fundraisers and holiday parties. Picasso’s hosts happy hour on Wednesdays, as well as trivia night and open mic night on Thursdays. The Tiki Bar, located on the beach of Gorgona is open on Friday, 4pm-10pm, and Saturday and Sunday 12-6pm.
There are a number of locations in the area that allow anyone to enjoy the night and create new experiences, including Cholo’s in Las Lajas; Sandbar in Coronado; or La Ruina located in Gorgona.
COST OF LIVING IN CORONADO
Coronado is not the least expensive area in Panama, in fact, prices are pretty similar to those in Panama City. Being only an hour away, and boasting the same amenities, you’ll be tempted to shop imported goods from back home which will of course be more expensive than shopping locally. It’s still a renters market and you can rent an oceanfront condo for a very good price. The equivalent beachfront apartment would cost a lot more in Florida. Taking ocean-view rent into consideration, you’re looking at a monthly budget of about $1,700. Again, not the most affordable, but that’s luxury life on the beach…
IS CORONADO SAFE?
Coronado is very safe… It’s home to a lot of Panama’s elites. Most of Coronado’s expats live in gated communities. There’s also a neighborhood watch set in place and a small police station right next to Coronado’s entry gate. Apartments have 24/7 security so overall; Coronado is known for being a low-risk area when it comes to safety.
HOW TO GET TO CORONADO
The roads in town aren’t great. The Pan-American Highway is smooth, but once you turn onto the street that takes you to the secured entry gate, you’ll find that the road gets very bumpy.
The layout of the town is easy. To get to Coronado you start off on the Pan-American Highway where you find most of the dining and shopping options. Turn down the street between the Rey shopping center and the McDonald’s and you’ll be taken right into the gated community. Be advised that during long weekends (and basically any other time when crowds are expected at the beach) cones are set up on the highway blocking entrance to those coming from Panama City. If the cones are in place, you’ll need to drive about 100 feet farther and make a U-turn.
If you’re traveling by bus, you’ll need to go to the bus terminal in Albrook Mall. Go into the terminal and look for a booth that says “Anton” or “San Carlos”. The cost should be $3.00 per ticket for the Anton bus, or $2.50 for the San Carlos bus. Through the turnstyle and out the doors and you will enter the bus platform. Here the buses are lined up. Around portal 45 you will see a bus (the ones locals call coasters – smaller white buses) that says “Panama – Anton.”
As you enter – say to the bus man at the bus door “Coronado” Most likely he will remember and yell out “Coronado” when you get there. But if he doesn’t – watch your time and it should be about 1.5 hours to Coronado. You will see a McDonalds at the one hour mark on your right and the next McDonalds is in Coronado on your left, about 30 minutes past the first one. (Do not count the McDonalds that’s about 10 minutes from the terminal).
Coronado was Panama’s first resort development. Coronado had first mover advantage and anyone who wanted to live in a beach town came to Coronado. It then grew into a bustling town that will someday be considered a small city. There is a lot of infrastructure in Coronado for a beach town. It doesn’t offer a lifestyle for someone wanting to go off the grid. Coronado is the most move-in ready, expat-friendly beach town close to the city. The water is drinkable, people are friendly, and the area is safe.