San Carlos Lagoon

For mountain lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and campers, the perfect place indeed exists. It is at San Carlos Lagoon, located 800 meters above sea level and about two hours from Panama City. It is not natural but a man-made lagoon, formed on the slopes of Picacho Hill (1,182 m). 

The surrounding forested mountains cast a green hue onto the surface of the water. The lagoon is not large and can be easily walked around in 15 minutes. No rivers empty into the lagoon, making it dependent on rainwater and causing the lake level to fluctuate by nearly 2 meters between dry and rainy seasons.

You can go hiking on several paths that climb up the mountain to enjoy the pretty landscape and a panoramic view of the Pacific from the summit. If you plan to camp, be sure to pack warm clothing to ward off the occasional chilly breeze. It's also a good idea to bring mosquito repellent. You can buy essential goods at a kiosk 15 minutes from the lagoon, but you should bring your own food and plenty of water.


San Carlos Lagoon is located west of Cerro Picacho in the town of La Laguna, township of La Laguna, district of San Carlos.

How to arrive

  • Car: The entrance to the Lagoon is about 300 meters from the entrance to Coronado. Turn right there and after around 19 km you will find the town of La Laguna. Only 3.3 km ahead the highway becomes a dirt road. When you reach the fork in the road, turn right and at the end is the entrance to the lagoon.
  • Bus: In Las Lajas, a bus will take you to the town of La Laguna, and from there it's only a 10 minute walk to the lake.

What to bring

  • Camping tent
  • Swimsuit
  • Insect repellent
  • Water bottle


  • Camping
  • Observation of flora and fauna
  • Sport fishing 

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