The best surf spots in Panama

July 20, 2021 | Surfing
Panama: Bocas del Toro is one of the best surf spots in the country | Photo: APS

As surfing makes its official debut at the Summer Olympic games, beginners and pros alike can discover world-class surfing spots in Panama.

The destination is one of the top year-round surfing destinations in Central America.

It offers over 1,500 miles of beautiful coastline, creating idyllic conditions and stunning tropical backdrops to catch the perfect wave.

It is also one of the few places in the world where you can surf in both the Pacific and the Caribbean on the same trip.

Panama is a true surfer's haven, providing a mix of reef and breaking points as well as a variety of impressive beaches for every level of surfer.

Both Panama's Caribbean and Pacific coasts pump incredible waves with daylong offshore winds and consistent swells, depending on the season.

Surfers can even catch a glimpse of Panama's diverse marine life, including migrating humpback whales, sea turtles, sharks, rays, and colorful fish.

Travelers coming to surf Panama's beautiful waters can feel good knowing the country is strongly committed to preserving its oceans and natural heritage.

With 30 percent of the country's marine area protected, ensuring the destination remains at its best for everyone is part of Panama's Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism (PMTS).

The PMTS proposes a network of circuits that highlight the extraordinary richness and diversity of Panama's natural and cultural heritage.

The routes focus on three core areas: Cultural Heritage (multifaceted culture), Green Heritage (extraordinary biodiversity), and Blue Heritage (ocean wonders).

Here are the must-see surfing spots to experience in Panama:

Panama: 1,500 miles of coastline with plenty of surf breaks for all levels of experience | Photo: Visit Panama

Riviera Pacífica

Escape to Riviera Pacifica, offering an array of white-sand beaches on the Pacific coastline.

These beaches are the nearest to the city and easily accessible for travelers via a short drive.

Chame and El Palmar beckon surfers with dreams of long rides and great tubes in its sparkling waters.

The area offers various accommodation options, restaurants, and more water activities such as kitesurfing, boating, and fishing.

Bocas del Toro

The colorful, lush islands of Bocas del Toro on the northern Caribbean side have some of the best surfing in Panama due to its various surf breaks and consistent and powerful swells, especially during the dry season.

Playa Paunch, Dumpers, and Playa Bluff are some of the favorite surf spots on Isla Colon, with long waves perfect for all levels.

Due to the region's relatively untouched and undeveloped landscape, travelers can expect a casual, laid-back environment to explore Panama's natural wonders, including tropical rainforests, bioluminescent waters, the Nivida Bat Cave, and diverse reef life.

Bocas del Toro is home to most of the Caribbean's coral species, and travelers can spot various reef creatures, including nurse sharks, crabs, and lobsters.

Panama: 30 percent of the country's marine area is protected | Photo: Visit Panama

Veraguas

The Veraguas Province is known for its welcoming beach towns on the Pacific side of Panama.

Santa Catalina's La Punta, located right across the water from Coiba National Park, boasts one of the longest beach breaks in all of Central America.

Playa Morrillo is another surfing hotspot known for the famous "Morrillo Break."

It is considered one of Panamá's most consistent breaks, regularly hosting international competitions in its year-round warm waters.

Waves here can reach up to 15 feet in height with incredible tubes.

Not too far from Santa Catalina as well is El Estero beach, an ideal spot for those who are just learning this sport.

Travelers also can find an array of eco-friendly accommodations to experience the natural surroundings and local Panamanian culture and cuisine.

Santa Catalina: La Punta boasts one of the longest beach breaks in all of Central America | Photo: Visit Panama

Pedasí

Playa Venao, located southwest of Pedasí in the province of Los Santos, is a top surfing spot on the Azuero Peninsula.

Playa Venao is a quintessential surf town, offering the best waves in the area, thanks to a consistent south swell, bi-directional breaks, and a safe, sandy bottom.

The spot is a rapidly growing destination for travelers and surfers alike, with an increasing number of hotels and hostels, restaurants, and bars popping up along the coast.

Drawing in relatively younger crowds, it offers a relaxing and serene environment by day and a lively night scene with parties on the weekends and special events throughout the year.

Playa Venao: a quintessential surf town | Photo: Visit Panama

Chiriqui

The province of Chiriqui is an adventure lover's playground, offering several islands in the Pacific for excellent surf only accessible by sailboat, yacht, or specialized tour operators.

The region serves as a perfect backdrop for surfers seeking a more remote and exclusive location.

Morro Negrito is a pristine island off the Pacific coast of Panama offering consistent swells.

Multiple islands surround Morro Negrito, and each one provides its unique wave from fast hollow point breaks to sand bottom beach breaks.

At Morro Negrito, travelers will find a wide assortment of outdoor activities, including searching mangroves for crocodiles, spotting monkeys in the jungle, taking a hike to a hidden waterfall, or fish in the waters surrounding the area.

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