Veraguas

Veraguas is located at the center of the country and is the only province that has both Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea coasts. Most of its population lives on the Pacific side of the province.  Its capital, Santiago, is very popular for the Patronales de Santiago, held every year at the end of July. This celebration is of religious background but nowadays it is not religious at all. It is basically a 2nd carnival in Panama and is definitively worthwhile to visit. The province is divided into several small towns most of which are rural. It is nice to walk around them but there is not much to do other than experience a bit of culture.  However, there are some national parks that worth to visit. The main one is the UNESCO World Heritage site Coiba National park, located in the Gulf of Chiriqui but normally accessed from Santa Catalina beach in Veraguas. Coiba National Park is a group of 38 islands covering over 430,000 acres of basically untouched natural resources. The main Island is Isla Coiba (the biggest in Panama – 493km2) which was a prison some years ago but  now is one of the main touristic destinations in the country. You need a special permit to access this park so if you are interested you should get in touch with tour operators.  There you will find the largest coral reef of the Pacific coast of America, a dream for divers.  Fishing is also a very popular activity in this area. 

Other national parks to visit are  Santa Fe National Park with its great virgin forest and La Yeguada Forest Reserve, the first forest reserve in the country created to protect the river basin for hydroelectric purposes. 
 
If your thing is surfing, then don’t miss out on Santa Catalina beach, it is a very secluded beach with some of the best waves in the country, together with a paradisiacal environment. There are some surf camps around with low budget accommodation and a couple of restaurants nearby. But go prepared with all you need because the closest town with ATM and grocery facilities is about 1 hour away by car.