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Panama's Best Little Beach Town


Directly across the street is a house selling Panamanian arts and crafts. I can see clay pots tinged with burnt orange and yellow precisely the shade of French's mustard. A white woven hammock sways lazily in the light breeze, and the few people on the street seem to be in no hurry. There are no power-walkers this morning, no suit-and-ties rushing to work.

This is not a destination for rushing...or for shopping or theater-going. If you need an active night life to keep you happy, Pedasi may not be for you. But if you're looking to retire, relocate, or just buy a second home in "the real Panama," this little beach town may be the answer.

Pedasi is known as the "tuna coast," and it has been a destination for sport fishermen for years (the town even hosts an annual fishing tournament). Here the coastal shelf drops off suddenly to provide deep water fishing a short distance from shore. Yellow fin tuna, sailfish, wahoo, and dorado are among the regular catches. Expat Linda Mckee says: "In Pedasi, I am in seafood heaven...clams, conch, lobster, and oysters are available daily."

Within an hour's drive there are 11 different beaches, all clean and easily accessible. The sands vary from deep bronze to the sparkling volcanic black. The roads to Pedasi are first-class and the sleepy village is probably one of the best maintained towns in Panama. New businesses are springing up to offer fishing, snorkeling, and diving trips. There are unlimited opportunities for small businesses and niches to be filled. The town could use more restaurants, a fish market, a deli or bakery, a bookstore, or a high-end internet caf¨¦.

Local businesses are intent on making it easier for everyone to get to know Pedasi. Expat entrepreneur Casey Halloran, who owns B&B; Casita Margarita, is the area's most vocal supporter. After many months of lobbying, he convinced local airline Aeroperlas to offer flights to Pedasi. Now instead of driving four hours from Panama City, you can fly here in under an hour.

Pedasi has long been a secret (though local developers say celebrities like Mel Gibson began to invest here long ago). Ask Panamanians for beach recommendations and they'll name Coronado, Bocas del Toro, and San Blas...but hardly ever Pedasi. Five years ago, Pedasi was hardly frequented by expats. But with new hotels, restaurants, and now flights to the area, growth seems to be accelerating and the expat community is growing. Now is the time to visit...

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