The next province as you move west along the coast is Cocle, also located on Panama’s southern coast, bordering Panama, Colon, Veraguas and Herrera. Cocle is primarily an agricultural area, but the coastal area is a tourist mecca with several megadevelopments.
The Royal Decameron Beach Resort, Playa Blanca Resort, and Wyndham Grand Playa Blanca, all in Farallon, attract
thousands of visitors each year. The JW Marriott Panama Golf and Beach Resort in Rio Hato and Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort in Santa Clara are full service resorts on the beach. The beaches in this area are some of the best along the entire Pacific coast.
Cocle provides much of Panama’s produce and is most famous for the production of sugarcane, rice, cattle, shrimp, and a variety of citrus fruits. The provincial capital, Penonome, is fast becoming a major commercial center with the influx of new residents to the surrounding area. A government sponsored Seafood Market, a new hotel and additional retail outlets reflect recent investments in Cocle. The rural area around Penonome is generating interest
from land investors, who are purchasing large lots to either develop or subdivide.
Noted for its cool, refreshing climate, a very popular destination within Cocle, for both nationals and foreigners, is El Valle de Anton, a beautiful and exotic valley located in the crater of an extinct volcano. El Valle is the only place in the country where you can find square trees, and the Nispero Zoo is one of the best places to see the famous golden frogs. The valley is also popular for hiking, rappelling, bird watching, horseback riding and cycling.
For years, the Sunday Market has been attracting visitors looking for great deals on local handicrafts and produce. Cocle artisans are known for their hand-woven hats and their pottery, featuring colorful bird, animal and human designs.
Cocle is also home to many archeological sites, and notable artifacts have been recovered from burial sites and ruins throughout the region. Two of the most important sites are El Caño and Sitio Conte, which was the location of a major archeological find in 1940.
Both these sites are currently being excavated, with support from the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institute.
Provincial capital: Penonome
Area: 4,927 km² / 3,060 mile²
Population: 233,708 inhabitants (2010)
Industry: Agriculture (Sugarcane, Coffee, Corn, Rice, Cattle, Shrimp, Salt), Tourism
Distance from Panama City to Penonome: 92 miles / 148 km
Main areas of development: El Valle de Anton, Santa Clara, Farallon, Playa Blanca
Airport: The Scarlett Martinelli International Airport in Rio Hato receiving mainly charter flights.