Directly across the street is a house that sells Panamanian handicrafts. I can see clay pots stained burnt orange and yellow, precisely the shade of French mustard. A white woven hammock sways lazily in the light breeze, and the few people on the street seem to be in no rush. This morning there are no powerful walkers, no suits and ties rushing to work.

This is not a destination for running … or for shopping or going to the theater. If you need an active nightlife to stay happy, Pedasí may not be for you. But if you are looking to retire, relocate, or simply buy a second home in “the real Panama,” this small beach town may be the answer.

Pedasí is known as the “tuna coast” and has been a destination for sport fishermen for years (the city even hosts an annual fishing tournament). Here, the coastal shelf drops suddenly to provide deep-sea fishing just offshore. Yellowfin tuna, sailfish, wahoo and dorado are among the common catches. Expat Linda Mckee says, “In Pedasi, I’m in seafood heaven … clams, snails, lobsters, and oysters are available every day.”

Within an hour’s drive there are 11 different beaches, all clean and easily accessible. Sands range from deep bronze to shiny volcanic black. The roads to Pedasí are first class and the quiet town is probably one of the best maintained towns in Panama. New businesses are emerging to offer fishing, snorkeling and diving trips. There are limitless opportunities for small businesses and niches to fill. The city could use more restaurants, a fish market, a deli or bakery, a bookstore, or a high-end internet cafe.

Local businesses intend to make it easier for everyone to get to know Pedasí. Expatriate businessman Casey Halloran, owner of B&B Casita Margarita, is the most vocal supporter in the area. After many months of lobbying, he convinced the local airline Aeroperlas to offer flights to Pedasí. Now, instead of driving four hours from Panama City, you can fly here in less than an hour.

Pedasí has ​​been a secret for a long time (although local developers say celebrities like Mel Gibson started investing here a long time ago). Ask Panamanians for beach recommendations and they will name Coronado, Bocas del Toro and San Blas … but almost never Pedasí. Five years ago, Pedasí was hardly frequented by expats. But with new hotels, restaurants, and now flights to the area, growth appears to be accelerating and the expat community is growing. Now is the time to visit …

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