When you want a holiday full of sand and surf but short on fellow travelers and your budget is slim, try Panama. The little town of Las Tablas on the Azuero Peninsula rests in the centre of an agrarian area. Here Spanish culture is evident in the architecture and names, including places like Playa Uverito, a local beach. The people are known for their warmth and the coffee is marvelous.
Visitors will notice an old-fashioned atmosphere about the place. Locals travel by horseback in many instances, wearing traditional hand-embroidered clothes which local artisans make. The Los Santos Province culture is largely agrarian and the town acts as a business centre Nuario Mountain is close as well.
Other towns to try include Chitre and Los Santos. They demonstrate a more intense mix of urbanity and old-fashioned influences, with more cars for example. A short flight takes you to Pedasi for fishing tours.
Las Tablas and Azuero Peninsula activities focus on the sea. Wind surfing is one popular tourist sport. Another is fishing for yellow fin tuna, amberjack, grouper and other species. Isla Cana is known by naturalists for its turtle (come and see some hatching) while Isla Iguana attracts snorkeling trips, divers and bird-watchers. Nature tours can be arranged.
Panama is big on carnivals, especially the Los Santos province where you are staying. If you miss one there will be another coming along shortly somewhere else. Stay out of town and make the drive or pay extra at your hotel. These have precious few rooms to start with outside of the big city. Other cultural attractions include Museo Herrera with its fascinating displays of artifacts from centuries of history. These include pre-Colombian items. Local architecture shows the influence of Spanish domination. The most famous attraction in Panama is the Canal: if you want to see it, just remember that after all of those crowds, a return to your hotel will restore inner peace.
Reach Panama City after a few hours of driving if you must, but for city amenities Las Tablas has most of what you need. This includes a hospital, shopping and banks. There are restaurants, hotels and gaming opportunities. If you speak Spanish it helps: remember, tourism has arrived, but not to the same extent as many major cities that ready themselves for all languages.
Hotels are often small. The people are friendly and rooms are clean, if basic. Do not expect voice mail, flat screen TVs and so on, though who needs them? No one comes here to watch TV. They enjoy the comfort of a good night sleep after a day spent in the water or on the sand. Five rooms at Pasada Del Mar Bed and Breakfast puts guests right on the beach, ten miles from town. Playa Uverito is close to Hotel La Luna too, though they also have a pool. Appreciate air conditioning on a hot day, perhaps the TV (if you must), and internet connection (should you feel guilty enough about your vacation paradise to stay in regular touch with mom). Ask at the front desk for advice about where to go next for an adventure or where to eat.
City hotels are another option. They situate visitors close to all modern conveniences, including shops with internet access charged per hour. Night life with music and gaming is also available. Do your souvenir shopping, eat local food or check out a place that serves a familiar and comforting dish: pizza.