The sun peeks out from behind a ﬂuffy white cloud as I hop out of the motorboat and wade to shore. The bright rays alter the scenery. The water goes from a soft baby blue to an almost ﬂuorescent turquoise, and the sand is a dazzling white. I didn’t have to ﬂy halfway across the world or empty my pocketbook to get to paradise. My round-trip ticket from Panama City to Contadora Island was only $90. Meals are between $6 and $20 a person. Sipping tropical drinks and watching yachts drift by, I ﬁnd it hard to believe I’m just a 20-minute ﬂight from a bustling metropolis.
The highlands in the breadbasket province of Chiriquí attract expats from around the globe. Boquete and Volcán are favored destinations here, with temperatures ranging from about 65 F to 86 F. Folks are drawn to the perfect climate, with plenty of sunshine despite frequent afternoon showers.
Though Panama is tropical, there are some drier areas along the Paciﬁc coast. The Coronado region, an hour west of Panama City, is known as the Dry Arc or Arco Seco. This dry swath stretches all the way to Pedasí on the Azuero Peninsula. The region gets 40 to 60 inches of rain a year, whereas Panama’s Caribbean coast usually gets over 120.