The Darien Archaeological and Terrain Research Expedition culminated at Playa de Muerto translates roughly to “Beach of the Dead”, or possibly “Flat Beach”, which makes sense due to its geography. This is a small village (in reality more a grouping of primitive buildings, traditional thatched huts and shelters), located on the Pacific Coast shoreline of the remote Darien Province, Panama. Growth of this rustic gem is restricted based on locality and its proximity within Darien National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Visitors and locals may only reach Playa de Muerto by boat or footpaths that wind and climb through the surrounding densely forested Serrania del Sapo, meaning “Mountains of the Toad”. Therefore, getting to this faraway beach is an all day affair; either a straight 10+ hour boat ride from Panama City, or a flight from Panama City to La Palma, capital of the Darien Province, and then a 4+ hour boat ride.
The Embera, a native Darien Indian tribe, have learned to live at Playa de Muerto prosperously, banking on the remoteness and resulting pristine natural attractions. These rare qualities attract visitors who enjoy staying in the traditional thatched huts, eating fresh caught lobster and fish, taking in the spectacular scenery and maybe a dip in the Pacific. The Embera also bring in revenue from selling their artwork such as Cocobolo (a local hardwood) carvings, woven basketry and beaded jewelry. This is a wonderful example of ecotourism whereby visitors receive an authentic local experience without impeding on or spoiling the environment.