Since Panama is surrounded by water; 2 oceans, a canal, and several large lakes, one would assume many folks would own boats. That’s not the case. The majority of the locals can’t afford a boat or have never subscribed to the boater mentality. Many of the people that live in the highlands don’t do the ocean; some can’t even swim.
David, in Chiriquí province, is several kilometers away from the Pacific but there is a marina a short distance from my house; in Pedregal. This river community is considered the GUN AND KNIFE district after hours. However, it is close (less than 2 KM) to the center of Panama’s second largest city. Although I’ve had a couple of problems at night in Pedregal, I’ve never had a problem during the day.
During the high season, many boaters move their vessels downstream from the marina in Pedregal to Boca Chica. That’s definitely a boating community, as is Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean coast of Panama.
Located in Pedregal is a very good boat builder, Tony Bernal. He services the fishing fleet; providing inexpensive Pongas. (I represented him as a boat broker many years ago.) He makes strong boats (pongas mostly -- up to 36 feet in length).
Another boat builder, Rex Hudson, operates out of an area located well past the oil terminal at Puerto Armuelles. He builds all sizes of boats. His company manufactures sport fishing boats (DeepSport) up to 40 feet in length & down to 15 foot pongas. (I also represented his company when I was selling boats). The boats shown in photos belong to Rex. They are all for sale. For details, give me a shout. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Both builders will build custom boats. They also refurbish vessels. (I’ve seen quite a few on the river that need this service!)