Calovebora: Panama’s Hidden Caribbean Village

Let us tell you about Calovebora, a hidden village on the Caribbean coast of Panama. With small bays all for yourself, and cheap fresh fish and lobsters.

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Calovebora is a remote Panamanian coastal town located near Santa Fe in the Vergarus region. If you’re looking for an authentic Caribbean hidden gem that no one knows about, you can find it here, in Calavebora. The beach is wild and secluded, while the cost of living is one of the lowest in all of Panama.

waves crash smoothly into the coast of Calovebora with palms around
Gentle waves on the Caribbean beach of Calovébora

For the curious among you that look at Panama’s map and wonder: “what is this tiny dot on the Caribbean side, and how do I get there”? Well, there is a path.

Calovebora's coastal strip with the jungle behind
Calovébora’s coastal strip stretches as far as the eye can see

The construction of the road leading to Calovebora lasted 14 years and was finished last year. Till then, tourists who wished to visit the town did it via a boat on the Calovébora River. Of course, when the inhabitants themselves needed to leave the village, they did it the same way.

Calovebora's River with a boat facing the sea and palms behind
Calovebora river – up until a year ago was the main route to get inland.

Before I continue, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

Calovebora is not a resort town, and there aren’t any fancy hotels or Michelin restaurants. On the contrary, It’s a rustic town.

Electricity is only available when the sun shines on the solar panels. There’s no cellular reception or visitor center. But the locals are very straightforward and will welcome you as a guest. And actually, when I think about it, that is what we loved most about Calavebora, the people. We had a lot of fun with the families in town and loved hearing about their lives and telling them about ours.
I believe it’s an opportunity to chill, hang and eat in the cheapest part of the Panamanian Caribbeans.

a few houses in the Calovebora's village close to the beach
Calovébora’s Village

What’s in Town 

Despite the fact that it’s a small town, Calovebora holds everything people of simplicity need. With three mini-markets selling fruits, vegs, bread, snacks, even some medication and shower products. In one word, BASICS. 

The main mini market of the village
Mini Market in the town

There are two restaurants in town, one is run by Olivia and the other by Mariela. Both are affordable and offer food made with love. 

The restaurants are cheap enough, so you won’t have to worry about cooking for yourself with a variety of dishes:

  • Lentils or beans with rice – 2$.
  • Chicken or fish with rice – 4$.
  • Prawns with rice – 6$.
  • Lobster with rice – 8$. 
Lobster with coconut sauce and rice in a plate
The best dish we had was lobster with seafood rice

Where to stay in Calovebora

At the moment there are three places offering rooms and some even have a restaurant.

Mariela and Cheo

+50766465961 via WhatsApp
the first and most famous hostel in Calovebora. Its reputation precedes it, and for a good reason. It was without a doubt our favorite hostel in Panama. It’s rustic but comfortable, and there is a buzz all day long. They have the best restaurant in Calovébora, serving freshly caught fish, lobsters, shrimp and meat at affordable prices. It is also the only place in Calavebora where you can get WiFi ( 1$ per hour). Rooms cost 20$ per night.

One single bed and a double bed n a blue room with two open windows
The room at Mariela and Cheo

We stayed for four nights at Mariela and Cheo because it was impossible to leave. Mariela and Cheo pampered us and surprised us with their generosity. They made us feel like we were a part of the family, offering us every new dish they made and taking us to hidden beaches with their boat. Calovebora was very special to us also because of their hospitality.

Delicious Calovébora

Delicious Calavebora hostel from the outside
Delicious Calovebora Hostel

The best option for budget travelers in the town of Calovébora with double rooms starts at 10$ a night. The rooms are small but consider you’re in it for sleeping only. There is a shared terrace with hammocks and a dining table.

One double bed in a small room with a window facing the sea
The room of Delicious Calovébora
Hammocks in the balcony of Delicious Calovebora hostel
Communal space in Delicious hostel

Casa del Mar

Casa del Mar Guest House from the outside
Casa del Mar Guest House

The newest addition to Calovebora, Casa del Mar has a vast terrace with an ocean view and basic but spacious rooms for 20$ a night. There is also a popular restaurant on the first floor serving mainly fresh fish and chicken.

Things to do in Calovebora

1. Visit Secluded Beaches in Secluded Calovebora

Suppose the secludiness of Calovebora beach is not enough for you, or maybe you’re just a big fan of walking by the coast and seeing where you’ll end up in. Well.. in that case, this paragraph is made for you.

a mushroom shaped beach in Calovebora with the jungle behind
One of the mushroom-shaped beaches in Calovebora

The jungly coast of Calovebora stretches for a couple of kilometers. Still, sometimes we seek that mushroom-shaped beach that makes you feel like you’re the only living human in the world. Calovebora has so many of these types of beaches.

Our suggestion is to walk down to the coast from the town and when you’re facing the sea turn right and start walking. After 15min walk you’ll reach a hill which you’ll have to climb up to. There’s a proper path that leads up the hill and down again. That’s it, after only 15 min you’ll arrive at the first mushroom-shaped beach Calovebora holds.

a path by the Caribbean sea of Calovebora in the woods
The path up leading to one of the hidden beaches

We stopped on the first beach and spent the day there. It had everything we looked for: calm, clear water, coconuts on the trees, and a smooth sandy beach.
It looked like a dream!
If you wish, you can keep walking on the road, explore new beaches, and tell us what you found in the comments below.

a mushroom shaped beach in Calovebora
A mushroom-shaped beach in Calovebora

2. Visit Isla Escudo de Veraguas

Referred to by the locals as the last hidden paradise in Panama, a visit to Isla Escudo de Veraguas will be a unique adventure when visiting Calovebora or Santa Fe. The island is uninhabited except for a few fishermen and is home to the endemic three-toed pygmy sloth.

Three-toed Pygmy Sloth
Three-toed Pygmy Sloth

The island also has rich underwater marine life and a few of the most beautiful beaches in Panama. The price of a one-day tour is not cheap: about 100$ per person, so we decided to skip it and stay in Calavebora on our hammocks. But after meeting a group of people who came back exhilarated from the tour, we truly regretted our decision.

So if you want to visit one of the last unexplored islands in central America, pay the 100$ and tell us what we missed in the comments below.
The tour can be arranged via your hostel in Santa Fe or by Mariela and Cheo in Calovebora.

boats in Calovebora river
Calovebora River – where boats depart to Isla Escudo de Veraguas

What to Pack

Here are the essentials you need to pack to have a fantastic time in Calovebora:

Daypack | Sandals for Him & for Her | Swimsuit for Him & for Her | Sunscreen | Water bottle | Mosquito repellent | GoPro | Kindle | Rain poncho

How to get to Calovebora

Public transportation in Panama is relatively convenient and easy to use. Plenty of buses arrive and leave on time, and the destination is written on the bus’ front window. So if you don’t have a car, you can easily travel the country using public transportation.

To visit Calovebora by bus, you will have to first arrive at Santiago, the biggest city in the Verguras province. The city itself is not that interesting and usually provides a gateway to Santa Fe and Santa Catalina. If we have missed something in the city of Santiago, feel free to get mad at us and tell us what we’ve missed in the comments below.

Santiago Central Station is pretty small, and you will easily find the bus to Santa Fe. A bus leaves every hour, and the ride takes 2 hours and costs 2.90$.

From Santa Fe, take a bus to Guabal. The ride takes 45 min and costs 3$. Buses leave from Santa Fe to Guabal at 8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 13:00, 15,00.

From Guabal, take the bus to Calovebora. The ride takes one hour and costs 5$. The bus leaves Guabal when the one from Santa Fe arrives.

Final Thoughts

We had five laid-back days in Calovebora full of great food and coastal adventures. However, Calovebora is not for the spoiled traveler, Even the Panamanians who visit Calovebora see themselves as adventurous. Everything is very simple, village life takes place around you, and everything occurs on the Caribbean Sea. We felt invisible when nature surrounded us and as life passed in front of us. I guess when you’re the least seen, you’re part of it.


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