New marina for Panama City may be good news for cruising sailors

Ocean Reef Islands Marina - hope for the future for cruising sailors
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Cruising sailors who transit the Panama Canal have always had poor options for anchoring and berthing on the Pacific side of the canal. However a major new project could relieve the situation slightly as it is expected to offer more than 100 berths for yachts of all sizes, including superyachts.

The project is to provide a high-class residential area close to Panama City, but the marina berths will be part of the project.

The project — Ocean Reef Islands and Marina — is being developed by Grupo Los Pueblos, the largest residential developer in Panama, and will be built across two man-made offshore islands.

Being a ‘Residential Marina’ transient yachts as well as short-term rentals will be limited and Ocean Reef residents will have priority. This is actually good news for the itinerant cruising sailor, as other existing marinas tend to be full of local boats, which will not be able to obtain permanent berthing in the new marina.

Access to Panama City where cruisers will want to do their provisioning is still uncertain. The access to the marina is independent of the entry to Ocean Reef Islands. It will be located in the same geographic position of islands’ entry, in a basement where the slip owners will access the parking area and take an electric car to the marina. The perimeter car path to the marina will be three meters below the level of the homesites to preserve their privacy.

Only the homesites adjacent to the marina will have direct access without having to exit the islands and go through the access control of the marina.

Ocean Reef Islands Marina at sunset
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Nevertheless the Marina will have a yacht club with restaurant and bar so may provide more agreeable surroundings than the current options, which tend to be greatly criticised by cruising sailors: Here is the outline by www.noonsite.com!Noonsite:

Balboa Yacht Club continues to offer swing moorings to visitors and provides a 24 hour launch service, negating the need to use your own tender. Prices are reasonable by Panama standards though capacity is limited. There is a slipway and some services.

Further out along the causeway past the Balboa Yacht Club is the Flamenco Marina. It has very few buoys but the floating piers now have many slips. Although mostly occupied by local boats, there is some pier space available for visitors. This marina suffers from surge and is expensive, however there are Customs and Immigration offices on site which is convenient.

Directly across from Flamenco Marina is the new 40 berth marina at La Playita, slightly cheaper and considerably friendlier. They are however usually full, but worth a try.

There is also a marina at the Miramar Inter-Continental in Panama City, but it is tidal and has severe draft restrictions. Berths may also be available at neighbouring Club de Pesca, however this is really a members only facility. This area continues to silt up at a rate faster then the dredge can handle and there are four sewage outlets directly into this marina.