Accommodations and Food
The road to Las Lajas beach ends in a T-intersection. A few rustic places to stay and eat are scattered along the dirt roads to the left and right of this intersection. You’ll probably need a four-wheel drive to get down these roads in the rainy season. This is a good place to come with your own bedding and a full cooler.
There are plans to build more upscale accommodations and facilities on the beach—there was even talk of a golf course—but there is no evidence of construction. The land under the short-lived Las 3 Palmeras hostel, which attracted a boho party crowd, was sold and the place shut down, but the owner was planning to open its successor, simply called La Palmera (cell 6516-6788, lapalmerapanama [at] gmail [dot] com), closer to the T-intersection.
The only thing there when I visited was a dilapidated work site and a couple of uninhabited tents, but the operation is planning to start off with six tents with double mattresses for US$6 a night. Those with their own tents can crash there for US$3. Slightly less rustic accommodations may follow.
A good option for backpackers is Cabañas Panamá (cell 6561-9470, starts at US$20/cabin), in a secluded spot about 700 meters down the dirt road to the right as you face the beach. (Confusion alert: This place has had a variety of names over the years, and you may just see a sign for “cabañas”). It’s a fenced-off property with nine cabins—bamboo huts, really—right on a long, wide, peaceful beach. Each has foam mattresses, cement floors, a loft for sleeping bags, and a picnic table outside.
They’re super-rustic but adequate for a no-frills stay. They don’t have bathrooms; a separate building houses basic shared toilets and showers. There are also six rooms in a building set back from the beach. These do have cold-water bathrooms but zero charm: They’re basically four concrete walls, bunk beds, and a cement floor. A restaurant and bar on the premises prepares meals when there are enough guests, which usually means the dry season. At other times, dinner is whatever you bring yourself.
Rates are per accommodation, not per person. High-season rates are US$20 for the cabins and US$40 for the rooms back from the beach. Prices are halved in the rainy season. If you stuff more than a car’s worth of people into either, though, they’ll charge another US$5 for the second car. That buys a 24-hour stay. Camping on the property is US$10 per group (US$5 in the rainy season). Day use of the facilities is US$5; the fee is waived for overnight guests. Again, a “group” is defined as a carload. The caretaker, Abdiel, is a friendly and reasonable guy.
There are five relatively “upscale” two-story A-frame cabins (cell 6574-4986, 6539-6969, or 6611-6579, starts at US$15 s, US$30 d) that haven’t been named yet. The cabins aren’t fancy by any means, but they have mosquito netting and cold-water bathrooms. A friendly Colombian man recently took over management and started to renovate the place, so the cabins may be nicer when you visit. Electricity could be on the way. The larger ones sleep up to four people for a flat US$38.50; smaller cabins are US$15 per person. The odd thing here is that the cabins were just plopped down in the car park and don’t really have a view of the beach, which is a 10-second walk away. A large rancho on the beach houses a bar/restaurant. As you face the beach at the T-intersection, this place is 700 meters down the dirt road to the left.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition