With world-class beaches, Panama is postulated as a first-rate surf destination
The Central American country offers more than 1,500 miles of beautiful coastline, creating idyllic conditions and impressive tropical bottoms to enjoy the perfect waves
As surfing makes its official debut at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, beginners and professionals alike can discover world-class surfing beaches in Panama. The country is one of the main surf destinations throughout the year in Central America. Panama offers more than 1,500 miles of beautiful coastline, creating idyllic conditions and stunning tropical bottoms to enjoy the perfect waves. It is also one of the few places in the world where you can surf both the Pacific and the Caribbean on the same trip.
Panama is a true surfer's paradise, offering a mix of reefs and surf spots, as well as a variety of stunning beaches for surfers of all skill levels. Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts offer incredible waves with tidal winds throughout the day and constant swell, depending on the season. Surfers can even see Panama's diverse marine life, such as humpback whales, sea turtles, sharks, rays, and many colorful fish.
Travelers who get to discover the beautiful waters of Panama can feel good knowing that the country is firmly committed to the preservation of its oceans and its natural heritage. Ensuring that the destination remains the best for everyone is part of Panama's Master Plan for Sustainable Tourism (PMTS) and as part of this commitment, 30% of the country's marine area is protected. 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 fundamental areas: Cultural Heritage (multifaceted culture), Green Heritage (extraordinary biodiversity) and Blue Heritage (wonders of the ocean).
These are the essential surf destinations that you have to know in Panama:
Pacific Riviera: Escape to the Pacific Riviera, which offers a string of white sand beaches on the Pacific coast. These beaches are the closest to the city and easily accessible to travelers via a short drive. Chame and El Palmar attract surfers who dream of their sparkling waters to glide through the waves all day. The area offers several lodging options, restaurants and water activities such as kitesurfing, boating and fishing.
Bocas del Toro: The colorful and lush islands of Bocas del Toro, in the northern part of the Panamanian Caribbean, are some of the best surf spots in Panama thanks to their powerful and consistent waves, especially during the dry season. Playa Paunch, Dumpers and Playa Bluff are some of the favorite surf destinations on Isla Colón, with perfect waves for surfers of all levels. Due to the relatively unspoiled and underdeveloped landscape in the region, travelers will enjoy a relaxed, informal setting to explore Panama's natural wonders such as rainforests, bioluminescent waters, Nivida Bat Cave, and reefs. Bocas del Toro is home to most of the Caribbean coral species, and travelers can discover various reef creatures, such as nurse sharks,
Veraguas: The province of Veraguas is known for its cozy beach towns on the Panamanian Pacific. Punta de Santa Catalina, located right in front of the Coiba National Park, has one of the longest surfing areas in all of Central America. Morrillo Beach is another point of interest for surfing, known for the famous "Morrillo Break" and considered one of the most constant swell areas in Panama, which attracts international competitions to its warm waters throughout the year. Here the waves can reach 4 meters in height. Not far from Santa Catalina there is also the beach of El Estero, an ideal place for those who are learning this sport. Travelers can also find a wide variety of eco-friendly accommodations to enjoy the natural environment and Panamanian culture and cuisine.
Pedasí: Playa Venao, located southwest of Pedasí, in the province of Los Santos, is one of the best places to practice surfing on the Azuero peninsula. Playa Venao is a surf town par excellence, offering the best waves in the area, thanks to a consistent southern swell, bidirectional tides and a safe and sandy bottom. Playa Venao is a highly developed destination for both travelers and surfers, with an increase in hotels and hostels, restaurants and bars located along the coast. Attracting a relatively young crowd, the area offers a relaxed and serene atmosphere during the day and a lively night scene with parties on the weekends and special events throughout the year.
Chiriquí: The province of Chiriquí is a playground for adventure lovers, as it offers several islands in the Pacific to practice excellent surfing that can only be accessed by sailboat, yacht or specialized tour operators. The region is the perfect setting for surfers looking for a more remote and exclusive location. Morro Negrito is a pristine island off the Pacific coast of Panama that offers constant surf. Several islands surround Morro Negrito and each one of them offers a unique experience, with different waves. In Morro Negrito, travelers will find a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as hunting for crocodiles in the mangroves, watching monkeys in the jungle, an excursion to a hidden waterfall or fishing in the waters that surround the area.