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Surf Guide: Surfing in Panama

Surf Guide Panama

Surf Guide: Surfing in Panama

 8° 58′ 59.9988N 79° 31′ 0.0120″W

Panama is the southernmost country in Central America and borders Costa Rica in the north and Colombia in the south. Panama is also located on the Caribbean Sea in the north and on the Pacific Ocean in the south. The capital of Panama is Panama City, where about half the Panamanians live. Panama is best known in the Netherlands for the Panama Canal, which connects the Caribbean Sea with the Pacific Ocean.

There are a number of islands for both coasts, including Bocas del Toro and the San Blas islands. At the narrowest point of Panama is the Panama Canal, which separates the Americas. Because of this, the western part of Panama lies in North America and the eastern part in South America. A ridge runs the entire length of the country. The rivers run north of these mountains to the Caribbean Sea and south to the Pacific Ocean. The coastal areas are mostly flat.

For more information about surfing in Latin-America, check out the following articles:

Surfing in Panama in short

  • Surf spots: The Atlantic coast of Panama offers surf spots of excellent quality. You will also find a number of surf spots on the Caribbean coast to keep an eye on, although the waves here are a lot less consistent.
  • Gateway to South America: Due to its location between Central American Costa Rica and South American Colombia, Panama is the ideal location to discover both regions. The good infrastructure certainly contributes to this.
  • Tropical climate: due to the location of Panama, the country has a wonderful, tropical climate. The country has two seasons: a “dry” summer and the “wet” winter. The summer runs from December to April and the winter runs from May to November.
  • Cuisine: Panama has an international kitchen. Many meals in Panama are seasoned with coriander (cilantro) or the related but stronger culantro. The most common meat in the meal is chicken.
  • Nature: besides beautiful beaches along both coasts of the country, Panama has a large number of unique, unspoilt rain forests in the interior with a very large diversity of plants and animals.

History of Panama

Despite its excellent surfing conditions, many surf spots in Panama are still relatively empty and unaffected. The country has actually always been in the shadow of Costa Rica when it comes to surfing, it is only recently that Panama has gained fame as an excellent surfing destination. Probably mainly driven by surfers who wanted to flee the increasingly busy surf spots of Costa Rica and were looking for quieter waves.

The surf Seasons

Panama is a narrow country with coastal areas on both the north and south coast. There are good surf spots on both coasts, both with their own surfing conditions. On the Pacific coast you can surf the whole year. You will find the best conditions during the surfing season, which runs from May to November. The surfing season on the Caribbean coast has two peaks: the main peak is found during the rainy season that runs from November to March. The second peak is in June and July. If you plan your surf trip well, you can grab both surf peaks in November, allowing you to surf on both coasts.

The coastline of Panama

Surfing in Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina is located on the coast along the Pacific Ocean, in the province of Veraguas. Here you will find one of the longest waves in Central America. In addition, you surf here in wonderfully warm water and an unprecedentedly beautiful environment, which is dominated by volcanic rocks. The town of Santa Catalina has a good range of (affordable) accommodation.

Surfing in Cambutal

Cambutal offers one of the most consistent waves in Panama, which can reach another height of no less than 6 meters. Like Playa Venao you will find Cambutal on the Azuero Peninsula. You will find many eco-friendly hotels and resorts here.

Surfing op Isla Grande

Isla Grande is an island in the Caribbean Sea. From Portobello it is a 5-minute boat ride to Isla Grande. The water is crystal clear here, and you will find a tropical coral reef here. You can also surf here in a beautiful, tropical environment. When it comes to accommodation, you’ll find a wide variety here, which means travelers with different budgets can come here.

Surfing in Playa Venao

Surfing in Playa Venao

This spot is located on the Azuero Peninsula and is probably the most popular beach break in Panama. Due to the excellent quality of the waves, most international surfing competitions of Panama take place here, including the famous Reef Classic. In the town of Venao Beach you will find different types of accommodation in different price ranges. For example, you can go here for hostels, but also for resorts. The water temperature is generally wonderfully warm, with the exception of the months of December to March, when there can be cold wave currents.

Surfing in Morillo

This beach break is located in the province of Veraguas, just south of Santa Catalina. This surf spot is widely used for both national and international surfing competitions. Under the right conditions, the waves can reach up to 4.5 meters. However, we advise not to go into the water when the waves exceed 3 meters, as it can be quite tricky to reach the waves.

Surfing in San Carlos

The town of San Carlos is an hour’s drive from Panama City and offers excellent conditions for novice surfers. In San Carlos you will find three surf spots, each with its own character. In the town there are many options for accommodation, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.

Surfing in Bocas del Toro

The beautiful island group Bocas del Toro, near the border with Costa Rica, has golden beaches and beautiful nature. Located in the Caribbean Sea, however, the waves are not as consistent as the waves on the Pacific coast. Yet with the right conditions, fantastic waves can arise.

The most infamous spot is named “Bluff”. This spot can be found on Isla Colon and offers powerful waves. You surf here in an exotic environment of golden beaches and green rainforests. Note: the waves can get very high here.

Surfing in Punta Chame

Punta Chame can be reached in about 50 minutes from Panama City, making it a very popular surfing spot among the Panamanian population. At Punta Chame you will probably find the most consistent waves of Panama Bay. However, the waves do not get very high; on a good day, they can reach around 2.5 meters high here.

Surfing in Morro Negrito

Morro Negrito is internationally recognized as one of the best surfing spots in Central America. This spot is located on a beautiful, unspoiled island in the Pacific Ocean and offers wonderful waves in beautiful surroundings. You will also find a large number of islands around Morro Negrito, each with its own unique character. Morro Negrito is therefore the location of a large number of surf camps in Panama.

Thomas Oosterhof

Via mijn studie Tourism Management ben ik terecht gekomen bij SurfaWhile. Waar ik elke dag meer leer over het surfen, en het verkopen van surfreizen. Door het schrijven van artikelen over surfvakanties, ervaringen en prachtige surfbestemmingen zorg ik er voor dat jij goed voorbereid op surfvakantie gaat!

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