The Best Surfing in Panama in 2022

December 21, 2021

Where is the best surfing in Panama in 2022?

Panama offers some of the best surfing in the world, with beautiful coastlines bordering both the Pacific and the Caribbean and reliable waves year-round. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced surfer, Panama is sure to have something for you.

Keep reading for a breakdown of the best surfing in Panama in 2022. We’ll explore not only the surf conditions, but the overall vibe for the most popular surfing beaches in Panama.

Playa Venao

Playa Venao surfer riding the waves.

We’ll start at our home base – Playa Venao, Panama. Located in the Los Santos province about a 5-hour drive from Panama City, Playa Venao offers some of the best surfing in Panama. This idyllic beach town offers the best waves in the region, reliable southern swell, bi-directional breaks, and a soft, sandy bottom free of sharp coral or rocks. 

Two kids standing on their surf boards, laughing.

Playa Venao is unique in that it offers a variety of waves suitable for all skill levels. Other surfing beaches in Panama are more appropriate for beginners or advanced surfers, due to the size and speed of the waves. In Venao, newbies can get their footing in our beginner break, while more advanced surfers paddle out to the faster, steeper waves a bit further out.

A man riding a wave.

A girl with BeachBreak surf camp t-shirt with a man with a Playa Venao shirt.

In terms of ambience, it’s hard to beat the vibes at Playa Venao. With a laid-back and inclusive atmosphere, pristine nature, and friendly surfers and travelers from around the world, Venao is the kind of place you never want to leave. 

A man laying in a hammock, enjoying the sun.

A girl crossing a slackline.

Unlike other popular surfing destinations in Panama, Venao has managed to avoid the overdevelopment and overt tourism that tends to kill the vibe. There are just enough hotels, restaurants, and bars to keep you entertained without that Disney World feel. When you’re in the mood to party you can find one – but you can also find solitude and quiet in our beautiful grounds at Beach Break. 

Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro beach

An archipelago of islands located on the northern Caribbean – closer to Costa Rica than to Panama City –, Bocas del Toro is an ultra-popular backpacker destination. It offers some of the best surfing in Panama, with multiple surfing beaches and breaks. You’ll find consistent and powerful waves year-round in Bocas, though the height and speed at many beach breaks are deemed too advanced for beginners. 

People partying on a beach pontoon.
Photo: Filthy Friday Bocas

You can’t talk about Bocas del Toro without touching on the islands’ backpacker party vibe. The region attracts not only surfers, but travelers of all kinds, particularly the younger variety. It can feel near impossible to get away from the constant partying, as music blasts into the early hours of many mornings.

That said, Bocas del Toro is still quite the experience. The tropical region offers verdant rainforests, turquoise waters, and incredible biodiversity. 

Bocas del Toro beach
Photo: Journeyera

Santa Catalina

Located in the Veraguas province, about a 6-hour drive from Panama City, Santa Catalina offers some of the best surfing in Panama in terms of swell consistency and size. Its most popular beach break, La Punta, offers one of the longest point breaks in Central America. With waves reaching up to 15 feet, the region can be treacherous to beginners, though the nearby Playa Estero offers a more beginner-friendly surf spot. 

Santa Catalina is slightly less developed than some of the other surfing beaches in Panama. There are less hotels and restaurants to choose from, and the area can feel a bit harder to reach by bus or even car rental. This gives Santa Catalina an authentic feel, where you can experience local Panamanian culture and cuisine. The area is also popular with scuba divers who are drawn to the biodiverse Coiba National Park. 

Pacific Beaches 

Photo of Panama city.

While most surfing in Panama takes place on the Pacific coast, there is a cluster of beaches near Panama City that swell at certain times of year. While these spots aren’t as reliable as other surfing beaches in Panama, they do offer a quick getaway from Panama City and fun-size waves appropriate for all levels. 

These Pacific beaches include:

  • Punta Chame, in Chame 
  • El Palmar, in San Carlos 
  • Playa Malibu, in Nueva Gorgona
  • Playa Serena, in Coronado 

There are a few other secret surfing beaches scattered in this region, though you’ll have to befriend a local to find them. 

This region tends to get its best waves between April to June, as well as July and August. The rest of the year is fairly flat. Expect more crowded line-ups during peak months, as these beaches are close enough to Panama City to attract weekend crowds. 

BeachBreak surf instructor with his students smiling at the camera in the water.

The Best Surfing in Panama in 2022 

If you’re looking for the best surfing in Panama in 2022, you have plenty of options. You really can’t go wrong with any location covered on this list – just be sure to consider the vibe you’re looking for, your skill level, and the time of year you’re planning to visit. 

The good news is – Panama is relatively small and easy to travel through. With the proper planning, you could experience more than one surfing beach on this list. 

We would love to help you plan your Panama surfing vacation. Whether you’re looking to spend all your time at Beach Break Surf Camp in Playa Venao or plan to visit a few surfing beaches, contact us so we can guide you and help you plan that perfect trip.

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