If you are looking for the best Panama surfing spots, you can get the info right here. The Republic of Panama is located in the narrow isthmus that connects South and Central America.
It lies between Columbia and Costa Rica and is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the south and the Caribbean Sea in the north.
The country is known all over the world for a great engineering achievement that cuts through the surf paradises of the Pacific Ocean and the incredible coast of the Caribbean Sea, known as the Panama Canal.
With more than 2,500 km of coastline, Panama offers some of the world’s greatest and popular surf spots. It is usually considered by surfers as the less crowded brother of its neighbor Costa Rica but with the added advantage of great offshore islands.
There are super surf spots in Panama and breaks for every level of surfing skill. Whether you are looking for surf spots to go easy or to go big on, you will find something for your preferences.
There is an abundance of beach breaks, point breaks, long peelers and hollow tubes waiting to be sampled. Panama surfing is extraordinarily exciting. This is because you have two completely different coastlines with differing surf conditions. When you are on the Pacific coast, you are sure to enjoy great waves with south and west swells. There are great tidal fluctuations and so there is the possibility of shallow waters. On the Caribbean coast, surfers enjoy east northeast wind swells and incredible wave peaks. The country becomes even more exciting because you can switch coasts in less than a two-hour drive if things are not happening where you are. But, when is the best time to go surfing in Panama?
Surfing Seasons in Panama
As in all popular surf countries, there are two surfing seasons in Panama and their transitional periods.
These seasons are;
High season. This occurs between the months of April and November. During this season, the Pacific coast experiences strong winds and consistent southwest swells. If you are looking for the perfect time to ride the waves in Panama, this is the time for you. Despite being high surf season here, the crowds won’t be an issue.
Besides, there are many surf spots just waiting to be discovered and surfed in Panama. Don’t limit yourself to only one or even only a couple
Low season. This happens in the months between November and April. It is the dry, sunny and slightly windy season, the summer version in Panama. There are small northwest swells. However, some Panama islands can still experience western and northwestern swells. This season is best for learners. The crowds are non-existent, save for the time around major holidays like Christmas, New Year and Semana Santa (Holy Week/Easter). Transitional – this can be described as Panama’s spring that occurs at the end of high season and the start of the low season.
During this period, and especially between the months of February and April, the days can be windy throughout. Southwest swells occur during this time, allowing for exciting surfing activity in the afternoon. Again, the crowds depend on where you are surfing because famous surf spots like Santa Catalina are fairly crowded no matter the time of year. With a warm tropical climate and high temperatures throughout the year, Panama is a paradise for surfers.
Here, you do not need a wetsuit - board shorts are the way to go. There are many surf schools and camps, academies and private surf instructors to cater for beginners. Surf shops and rentals are numerous and the nightlife in these surf cities is unprecedented.
Surfing in Paunch, Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro Archipelago in Panama is a huge surfing region consisting of nine islands. Those islands on the ocean side experience swells from the Caribbean. There are also some with reefs, and when the swells come into contact with them, the resultant waves offer surfing opportunities like no other. On the eastern coast of Colon Island, Playa Paunch is one of the most famous surf spots just ten minutes from Bocas town. As a fairly exposed right and left reef break, Playa Paunch provides reliable surf with west offshore winds.
Wind swells are more common than groundswells with the ideal swell angle of the northeast. The lefts begin in the tubular section before developing to an effective wall and powerful barrels overshadowing the rights concerning surf quality. Paunch is less crowded, and with sharp reefs, so reef boots are advised. Bocas del Toro has all the amenities that surfers need. From surf schools, camps and instructors to surf shops and rentals, there is everything you will ever need for a complete surfing holiday.
Things to Do in Playa Paunch, Bocas del Toro
Enjoy your nightlife the way you want to in Playa Paunch, Bocas del Toro. For drinks, food and other refreshments and entertainment, head to Surf Break at Paunch, Bocas Paradise Hotel, Hotel Olas de la Madrugada, Paki Point, Playa Tortuga Hotel and Beach Resort or Island Plantation Hotel, Bar & Restaurant among others.
Surfing in Gorgona, West Panama Province
Located to the west of Panama City, Nueva Gorgona is only 3 km from the beach town of Coronado. Commonly known as Gorgona, the town’s beachfront and those of the surrounding cities feature a mix of white and volcanic sands. The more than 4 km of beachfront offer beautiful surf breaks, and, during the week, you can have the lion’s share of surf fun all to yourself and your buddies.
While you are passing through Oceanside Gorgona, the temptation to ride the waves in the famous Playa Malibu will be too strong to resist. As one of the most consistent and exposed surf spots in the country’s Central Pacific, the waves in this spot break on a sandbar at the Chame River’s mouth. When the river and the tides combine, the results are amazingly fast, hollow and tubular right and left waves for surfers to partake in.
The ideal swell directions are southwest, south, and southeast while the best wind directions are north, northwest and northeast. Playa Malibu is not a crowded surf spot and is not really for newbies. Due to the river, there is the risk of submerged logs, especially during rainy season. With many amenities and facilities, surf shops and rentals, supermarkets and stores, Gorgona town and the surrounding areas are perfect for surfers. There are also surf schools and private instructors on standby for beginners.
Things to Do in Gorgona, West Panama
There are many entertainment spots in and around Gorgona. Among the most popular here include Hotel Gorgona Jayes, Turicentro Mirian, Picasso Bar & Restaurante, Paradise, and La Ruina – and there are plenty more to look out for.
Surfing in Lajas, Southwest Panama
In the Gulf of Chiriquí, on the Pacific coast of Panama, is the popular Playa Las Lajas, which is just a short hour from David City. This is the most famous mainland beach in the area and a magnet for surfers of all kinds. The small town of Las Lajas offers a potential stopover for surfers as they head to the beach just five miles away. Surfers on this sandy beach enjoy this consistent, regional classic, right and left beach break throughout the year. The best swell directions are northwest, west, and southwest while the ideal wind directions are from the southeast, east and northeast. For the best surf experience, this spot is best visited during the mid or high tide. Las Lajas is best for beginners too and is never crowded. There are several surf shops and rentals as well as surf schools and camps in the vicinity. Surfers are, therefore, well catered for.
Things to Do in Las Lajas, Southwest Panama
After spending a day on the waves, there is nothing as enjoyable as relaxing over a drink, some tasty food, and seeing a show or listening to some music. There are many places offering refreshments and entertainment in Las Lajas. Among the best of these include Sunset Beach Lounge, Bar Laredo and Paradise Inn Resort.
Surfing in Panama City, Panama West, Panama Province
Touching the eastern bank entrance of the famous Panama Canal on the Pacific, and deep into the Panama Gulf, Panama City is a paradise for surfers of all levels. The Golfo de Panama is sheltered so that only the most powerful of the south swells can penetrate it.
However, just a short hour to the west, there is a stretch of glorious pristine beaches with clean waters and excellent surf conditions. Between the months of April and October, the area receives swells of up to 12 ft with a south-southwest angle. There are also onshore southwesterly winds and huge tides that can reach up to 17 ft in height. With numerous wind and swell directions, these surf spots offer some of the most consistent right and left beach breaks in the city.
Panama City and its surroundings offer a huge number of consistent surf spots. Some of the most popular of these surf spots include Boca La Caja, Esmeralda, Hawaiisito, Las Bóvedas, Mojon Beach, Playa Serena, Punta Palmar, Punta Teta, Rinconsito, Rio Mar, Rocky Point, and San Carlos Point among others. These surf spots are not usually crowded, and board shorts are the order of the day.
Panama City is a cosmopolitan metropolis and offers all the facilities and amenities that surfers would need. These include surf shops and rentals, surf schools, camps, and instructors.
Things to Do in Panama City, Panama West Province
After spending the day surfing in the stunning waters of Panama City, the evening brings only more opportunities to see what the city has to offer to visitors and locals alike. You can enjoy cocktails, local dishes, music, and dance. Some of the best spots to sample while you are on a surf holiday here include Chupitos 507, El Sotano, Tantalo, Casa Jaguar, Gatto Blanco, Moloko, and Villa Agustina.
In conclusion, surfing in Panama is a must for any surfer. It is similar to Costa Rica but is thought of as quieter and less busy, and there are still new places to visit. When planning for your next surf holiday, consider Panama.