• Photo: Yultzitl | Dreamstime.com

Playa Kobbe (Playa Bonita)

With a long beach on a cove of calm water backed by tropical forest, Playa Kobbe is a lovely spot. It's the closest beach to Panama City, less than 20 minutes from downtown. Since Kobbe Beach lies on the other side of the Canal, the water there is considerably cleaner than near Panama City, but it may at times still be tinged with oil from the area's abundant ships, so it is not always ideal for swimming or snorkeling. Once a popular picnic spot for locals, Playa Kobbe is now dominated by two resort-style hotels, the Dreams Buenaventura Panama (a revamp of the former InterContinental Playa Bonita, which is scheduled to debut in 2016), and the Westin Playa Bonita . Both of these properties restrict access to the beach, even though all beaches are public property under Panamanian law. The name Playa Bonita (beautiful beach) is a fairly recent PR invention, but it is rapidly replacing Playa Kobbe, named for the U.S. military base that once stood nearby, as the beach's moniker.

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