Known formally as the Cocle Province, this is a part of Central Panama and it sits on the sheltered southern coast. Created in 1855, it is often referred to as the beach area for the obvious reason that it is home to some gorgeous and popular beaches. There are six districts in the Cocle Province; the most frequently visited of them is Anton, which is home to the town of El Valle. This is a spot popular with travelers because it contains many hotels and resorts, as well as a attractions such as waterfalls and land preserves. The beaches nearby include:
- Santa Clara
- Rio Hato
In addition to offering up some excellent beaches, this region is also well known for its focus on conservation and research. It has many archeological sites because of its clear links to the country's indigenous past, but there is also the APROVACA orchid conservancy, a biological station and a park dedicated to a former Panamanian leader - Omar Torrijos. The El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center is here as well as the El Nispero Zoo.
Interestingly enough, the Beach Area is also where one of only two archaeological sites in the country is open for public observation. This is because the area is an impressive site for pre-Columbian artifacts. There is evidence of three separate native cultures in the area - ranging from as early as 150BC to 1700AD. Impressive pottery samples have been discovered and it is believed that more than a single culture flourished in the valley area well after European discover.
This area is also known for its many tomato farms, but is also where the Santa Rosa Sugar Refinery is found. This is often called a "must see" during the grinding season because it processes thousands of tons of sugar cane each day - with most of it being harvested by hand.
Naturally, it is mostly the natural sites that bring so many people to the area, with the beaches being the "number one" attraction. There are also beautiful tidal flats, an impressive waterfalls (Chorro el Macho and Chorro de las Mozas) near El Valle, and some unusual square trunked trees that appear in El Valle and which are found after a short hike behind the famous Hotel Campestre. These trees are thought to be natural in their unique form and are actually a hotspot for hikers and visitors. (TripAdvisor, 2014)
Getting to the Beach Area
It is remarkably easy to head to the Beach Area (Cocle) simply because this is a centrally located area that is near to Panama City. Two types of busses can bring travelers to the area, and local buses make it easy to get from point to point upon arrival. Naturally, the popular taxi services also run throughout this area, and there are options for rental vehicles too. Walking is also possible, but most destinations outside of the major towns would make it challenging to take in many sights on foot.
Accommodations range from hostels to luxury resorts. The emphasis is on the upscale hotels and beach resorts simply because of the fineness of the different beaches available. However, there are apartments, B&Bs, guesthouses, and even the occasional home share available.
If you want to see a good sample of the best things that Panama has to offer, Cocle or the Beach Area is a good choice. Here you will find gorgeous waterfront with a long list of activities, mountains and trails with secluded waterfalls and some rare wildlife, small towns with lots of cultural activities, and a dedication to preserving the history and culture of the area. This, and so many other adventures, are yours to enjoy when you visit Panama and the Cocle Province.
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