Situated on the Pacific side of Los Santos province in southern Panama is Playa Venao. The place hardly qualifies as a town as it is a small, hidden coastal strip near Pedasi– the closest town offering shopping and amenities. However, it is Playa Venao that people come to see– where the jungle meets the ocean and an idyllic beach atmosphere is offered year-round.
Right at the center of Playa Venao is a beautiful 3km long crescent-shaped beach considered the one of the best surf spots in Panama. The jungle beautifully fuses with the sea to create a lush, barely-touched landscape of rolling green hills and a year-round supply of waves suitable for all skill levels
Unlike many beach and surf destinations in Central America, Playa Venao remains a blissfully hidden gem. Not many have discovered its outstanding beauty, uncrowded beaches and surfing line-ups, and the place radiates pure bliss and tranquility.
Most people get to Playa Venao by taking a bus or driving a rental car from Panama City. Depending on the time of the year, flying to Playa Venao can also be an option.
Driving to Playa Venao from Panama City takes about 5 hours. Unlike some countries in Central America, driving in Panama is a relatively safe and easy experience. While navigating traffic in Panama City can be stressful, once out of the city you can enjoy a scenic, well-paved drive through the rolling green hills and charming small towns of Panama.
Many travelers choose to take a bus from Panama City, which takes a bit longer but is cheaper than renting a car and offers an authentic cultural experience. Multiple buses depart from the Albrook Mall in Panama City to Playa Venao each day.
The best option, in our humble opinion, is to take the private shuttle we provide for guests at Beach Break Surf Camp as part of our all-inclusive vacation packages. Our modern, air-conditioned, WIFI-equipped shuttle meets you at the airport and drives you directly to Playa Venao. Less planning and hassle, more comfort and convenience!
Surfing is the main inspiration for most people visiting Playa Venao. The beach has a bay-like formation, making excellent conditions for beginner and advanced surfers throughout the year. Beginners can start at the beginner-friendly beach break close to shore, while more experienced surfers can paddle to the bigger, faster waves a bit further out.
One of the best parts about surfing in Playa Venao is the uncrowded line-ups. Popular surfing destinations tend to get super crowded, which can be stressful and even dangerous for surfers of all skill levels– not to mention frustrating as you wait for “your turn” in the line-up. Surfing in Playa Venao, you’re sharing the waves with just a handful of friendly local and traveling surfers.
Beach Break Surf Camp is a great choice if you are looking forward to a surf vacation. Our all-inclusive surf camp packages include surf lessons, board rentals, beachfront accommodations, meals, and even surf photography!
Not to mention, our instructors are the coolest, kindest, and most patient instructors you’ll meet. We have guests who return to Beach Break each year to continue training with our team!
Playa Venao is a laid-back destination with magical, peaceful vibes. It is excellent for those looking to relax by the beach and take in the views, as well as those seeking a more physically active or adventurous vacation.
While there is no shortage of activities to engage in, there is also no pressure on what you have to do while there. You can alternate between reading in a beachfront hammock, taking a waterfall hike, zip-lining through the jungle, or playing a game of pool in our beachfront, open-air restaurant at Beach Break.
In terms of culture, Playa Venao is a fascinating place. Naturally, there are plenty of Panamanians, but you’ll also find a diverse traveler and expat community. There’s no telling what languages you’ll hear when exploring Playa Venao– Spanish and English of course, but don’t be surprised to hear Hebrew, Russian, French, Portuguese, Swedish, and more!
You won’t find a lot of shopping in Playa Venao– while there are few tiny surf shops, general shopping is done in the nearby town of Pedasi. This is slowly changing, however, as Playa Venao gradually matures as a vacation and tourism destination. We even have our first local tienda in the works, which will offer basic groceries and personal items.
You might expect a place as secluded as Playa Venao to offer little in the way of dining, but that is not the case. Thanks in part to our diverse and entrepreneurial expat community, there is an impressive variety of cuisines to enjoy.
Restaurants in Playa Venao range from fun “taco and tequila” joints and authentic Israeli food to beachfront bars offering American favorites. You can also find more formal dining options for when you’re looking to splurge, including Panga, a restaurant launched by an award-winning Panamanian chef that offers an inventive take on local cuisine.
At Beach Break Surf Camp, you can also find Pizza Gavilan, a beachfront, open-air restaurant offering everything from (you guessed it) pizza to other American and Israeli favorites, plus a wide selection of healthy options. It’s a great place to sit and eat while watching the waves roll in, and connect with other guests and travelers.
Playa Venao may be laid back, but still offers you the chance to party till dawn. While we like to keep things relatively quiet here at Beach Break (we want to surf in the morning!), you can walk a few footsteps down the beach to find more of a late-night party atmosphere. (Then, walk back to Beach Break and enjoy the quiet!)
There are a few lively bars and dance floors scattered around the beachfront where you can find locals and travelers from different parts of the world. Depending on the time of year, you may catch festivals like Sonica Venao, which has grown into a fairly major festival that draws a large and diverse crowd.
If you’re looking to have fun and socialize but aren’t feeling a club-like atmosphere, Beach Break offers the perfect middle ground. Our beachfront bar and restaurant is a great place to hang out and meet other travelers, as well as locals and expats. We have a pool table, good food, music, and drink, the occasional live band, and plenty of comfortable spots to lounge and enjoy the beachfront ambience.
While Playa Venao may be known for its glorious waves, there are plenty of things to do in Playa Venao besides surfing. That blog post dives into more detail, but in general you can look forward to:
● Whale Watching – If you are in Playa Venao between July and September, you can catch whales as they jump and play in the waters of Pedasi.
● Zip-lining – The zipline runs across the jungle, letting you catch a glimpse of some creatures like the monkeys and parrots.
● Horseback Riding – Enjoy a different horse-riding experience with the 3km stretch beachfront serving as your backdrop.
● Hiking – This is a chance to explore the jungle behind the beach.
● Deep Sea Fishing – The fertile waters surrounding Playa Venao offer some of the best fishing in the region
● Island Exploration – The nearby wildlife refuge of Isla Iguana offers diverse wildlife and great snorkeling in crystal-clear waters
When you stay at Beach Break Surf Camp, you also have access to our modern beachfront fitness center, which offers martial arts, yoga, general fitness, and kids’ classes. Fun fact: Beach Break is run in part by a husband-wife duo of Jiu Jitsu experts, who love sharing their love of martial arts with our guests. (If you didn’t know, surfing and Jit Jitsu have a lot in common!)
There’s no doubt about it– Playa Venao, Panama is an incredible place. Visitors who have traveled the world often say there’s no place like Playa Venao, and we couldn’t agree more. Between our incredible surfing, blissful beach atmosphere, great restaurants, and diverse community of friendly travelers, locals, and expats, you may find it hard to leave!
Experience the best of Playa Venao when you stay with us at Beach Break Surf Camp. Our all-inclusive vacation packages are thoughtfully put together to include every aspect of the perfect vacation– and are completely customizable!
Explore our all-inclusive surf camp and book directly online, or contact us with any questions or special requests. We look forward to seeing you in Playa Venao, Panama!
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