Oceano’s Location – the Truth.

July 22, 2013 |
Playa Cambutal Beach

photo courtesy of Mike Phillips


Where is Oceano?

Oceano is located in what is now the rapidly discovered area south of what is known as the Tonosi Valley in the southern Azuero Peninsula of Panama. We usually tell people that we are in “Cambutal” but technically we are not.  “Cambutal”, the name, either means something about conch shells or “the place of hermit crabs” and there’s some dispute about that.  Both make sense although hermit crabs have a more prevalent presence than conch shells do, and all hermit crabs live in little conch like shells.  Hmmmmm.

Technically, We are either in the area called “Pedregal” or “Horcones”.  Pedregal is the valley to our west in which runs a year round significantly sized river which for the time being, is technically, “the end of the road”, as it’s going to require a significant bridge project in order to be crossable year round. We look down on it from the edge of the west side of the property and several of our lots have river views which are always accompanied by mountain views of the 4500 or so foot jungle peaks in the distance.  Horcones is the huge valley to our east which envelopes the terrain in back of a 2 mile stretch of open east-west running beach.  All of the beaches here face to the due south by the way.  Seeming for this reason we are in a fairly consistent bombardment of decent ocean swell coming from both the direction of Antarctica to the south and wrapping around from the vast pacific ocean to the west and southwest.

Between Horcones and Cambutal is “Los Buzos” where there are several newer hotels, homes, rooms for rent, restaurants and guest villas and tents. There is also a natural marina in Los Buzos where all of the local fishermen and one of our Gringo friends who migrated from Costa Rica recently, run their boats out of.  The marina is just a natural break wall which at low tide completely stops swell from entering the bay and at high tide, presents a formidable opposition to most of the wave energy.  Apparently the permits for construction of this area into an even more functional and protected marina are already approved and the rumors are that either the President of Panama or someone in the family of the current president (Martinelli) recently bought a large corner of the adjacent marina land on which to build a hotel.  Who knows?  So as things develop – each of these areas will likely be more known by their real names and Cambutal proper, which is not on the ocean, and from a tourism point of view, may actually fade into the relics of nameless towns you pass through when heading to your actual destination.  Realistically, in 15 to 20 years it will be a more industrial and commercial commerce hub for all of the 3 other zones and beyond as the peninsula opens and roads beyond Oceano improve.  So we are talking about a 5 mile stretch of beaches between Cambutal and Oceano.

For now, out nearest commercial hub of significance, although there are several small shops for basic goods and snacks in Cambutal, is Tonosi which is a 20 minute drive to the north east.  Tonosi has a sufficient selection of vegetables and food and basic equipment and a population of about 700 or so.  The nearest “Home Depot” style construction store is 2 hours from Cambutal in Chitre where there are department stores as well and really anything you could need as well as several grocery stores with more “health” food and leafy greens and we’re even beginning to see organic food delivered from the Volcan area.  Cochez, arguably our best “Home Depot” style, get it all, construction store is in Chitre already and will deliver for $100 to here and they are also constructing a new massive store even closer in Las Tablas which is only an an hour and a half away.  There is also one of my favorite construction stores in Las Tablas already, called Conivan and they have almost anything we need as well and will also deliver.

What are the reality of access to Oceano?

Oceano is 5 miles (8km’s) from both paved road and power at this time.  It is on a state maintained gravel/dirt road.  In the last year between December 2011 and February 2013, over 20 small parcels have sold between the beach and the beach road on the way to us and very near to us.  There are also other land owners putting Lots up for sale finally and there have been constant sales.  What this means to us is that the potential for infrastructure coming our way improves all the time.  Currently, there can be some obstacles.  For one, in the “rainy” season – which means that days are a mix of clouds, sun and rain, there are occasionally heavy storms and for most vehicles, the Horcones river will become impassable for about 12 hours every 3 weeks or so on average.  That can happen anywhere from August to the end of December.  Although in the dry season from January 1 to May 1 you can generally get any small 2 wheel drive car all the way to the Cantina owned by our neighbor and the beach on the east side of Oceano if you are a decent driver. Realistically, because of the final small accents into the Oceano properties, a 4×4 vehicle is by far your best alternative.  Additionally, there is so much amazing exploring beyond Oceano, that you will miss out on miles of remote beaches without a 4×4.  If you’re like some of us who are from the mountains, you’ll likely just consider that it’s just one of the prices you pay to live in a ski town or in this case, at the beach.  You really need a well functioning 4×4 for a few of the small steep pitches as well as for driving on the beach (if you choose) and it will help your confidence in the small stream crossings and may or may not be important for the Horcones crossing depending on the season and your driving skills.  To live in the overall area without a 4×4 is possible but your access in other place and even friends driveways will at times be limited.

If you travel to Oceano and ask questions you will undoubtedly hear everything from, “You can’t access that area for part of the year” and “It’s very difficult driving” maybe from those who are from flatter or urban areas, to “The access is fine” and “We didn’t have any problems” from those of us who are from mountain towns and grew up driving dirt roads.   Today is February 22nd, 2014 and there are several of us who drive the road which is mostly freshly graded every day to go surfing.  Two weeks ago during Carnival the road felt like a highway and there were 30 people in the water at Corto Circuito surf break and another 100 or more people on the beach below the property.  Overall, access should keep improving and Panama has a track record for spending on infrastructure where there are people who need it.

It is likely that all of the new foreigner and Panamanian landowners, many of whom are anxious to begin building, will be petitioning for power and road improvements to head our way.  For now, we are putting efforts into maintaining both the public road and our actually better constructed internal roads and access has progressed to where it is open year round with a 4×4.  That being said, it is going to take slightly more determined participants who are the first group of homesteaders in Oceano.  We have a massive 4×4 truck available for our Property Owners to move materials and we are open to discussing special arrangements with Property Owners who are the earliest to commence.  Otherwise, if you believe in the Oceano vision, you can join us now and delay building for several years as the area evolves to better suit your comfort level.  It has gotten better every year for 7 years and is comparable to many established areas in Costa Rica.

Why live at Pedregal instead of Cambutal or Los Buzos?

Cambutal and Los Buzos are the epicenter of the current beach community in the area.  Because they are on the grid and accessed by paved road, they are hands down, on the less complicated side of things for current development (and much more expensive).  Oceano in Pedregal has access to the beach at 3 excellent and very different surf spots.  One is a beach break with many peaks, the other is an excellent surf learning area and swimming area for children and the 3rd is a powerful point break.  Recently he Horcones/Pedregal area has seen the sale of many more parcels than the Cambutal/Los Buzos area.  The Oceano Community is at the gateway to the Azuero outback with massive mountains, hidden beaches and rainforest, and we have the first grove of majestic primary old growth rain forest as you head west from Pedasi and maybe even so far as Panama City, literally on the property as private forest preserve.  We also have an epic beach with the famous Piedra Careta rock spire sticking out of the ocean right in front of our property.  The views of the Cerro Hoya National Park region, landforms and nature access from Pedregal are better than anywhere in the Pedregal – Cambutal basin.  It’s the place for many of us to be and has a superior location on many fronts.

The entire area is amazing and we invite anyone to come and join us and we are additionally happy to help you become part of the greater community surrounding us.  There really is something for almost everyone here and the entire 7 mile or so stretch of land from northeast of Cambutal to Pedregal is the premiere beach zone in Panama for the eco-minded, adventurous and tranquil.