The road stays in fairly good shape south and west of Playa Venao, but until recently there was little reason for most people to come all this way. The only sizable town is the backwater of Tonosí, and the two main beaches, Playa Guánico and Playa Cambutal, have mainly been of interest to adventurous surfers.
There is a national park, and Parque Nacional Cerro Hoya, but it’s accessible only by boat on seas that are often rough. There is no road to the park and no facilities of any kind.
However, Playa Cambutal suddenly seems on the verge of taking off. When I first visited the area circa 1998, the area saw few visitors and the coastal “road” was a riverbed that could only be traversed in the dry season.
Now, however, Playa Cambutal has a few quite nice places to stay and is just waiting to be discovered. It’s still mainly of interest to surfers and deep-sea fishers, but with beaches as attractive as Playa Venao and not much farther to drive, it should also appeal to those who think surf is just meant to be looked at.
It’s more attractive than Playa Guánico, which has black sand and probably will appeal only to surfers.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition