The Best Places to Surf in Panama

Panama has some amazing surfing spots in tropical surroundings
Panama has some amazing surfing spots in tropical surroundings | © Teddy Kelley / Unsplash
Photo of Martina Gili
25 May 2021

Whether you’re searching for beginner breaks or pro barrels, Panama is one of the top surfing destinations in Central America. Here’s where the best waves are found.

With an incredible mix of beach, reef and point breaks, Panama is a surfer’s heaven. Not only can you ride year round, but you can hit waves on the Atlantic and Pacific oceans on the same day, thanks to the narrow geography of the country. Want to know more? Here are the best places to surf in Panama.

Playa Venao, Azuero Peninsula

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In the Azuero Peninsula, about five hours from Panama City, Playa Venao offers the perfect mix of surf, adventure and fun. One of the most famous beach breaks in Panama, it hosts some of the biggest competitions in the country and is also known for great beach parties. Playa Venao is also home to some excellent hostels and hotels.

Santa Catalina, Veraguas Province

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Surfer walks to La Punta in Santa Catalina, Panama
© Cavan Images / Alamy Stock Photo

Santa Catalina is a beach town in the Veraguas Province on the Pacific side of Panama. Located across the water from Coiba National Park, it has one of the longest beach breaks in Central America. It also has clear waters and an abundance of exotic marine life, as well as spectacular views. Affordable accommodation options are available along the coast.

Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro

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Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos is another great place to surf in Panama, though surfers and swimmers alike should beware of rip currents – powerful narrow currents that move quickly underwater. It’s hard to notice them, and they can suck in even the most experienced swimmers, so watch out for the red flag when you visit Bastimentos.

Isla Grande, Colón Province

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Black Christ of the Waters. Isla Grande, Colon, Republic of Panama, Central America
© Humberto Olarte Cupas / Alamy Stock Photo

Isla Grande is a beautiful Caribbean island two and a half hours from Panama City, in the area of Colón. Reachable by a lancha (wooden motorboat) from the small harbor of La Guaira, near Portobelo, the island is surrounded by clear waters and lush green vegetation. There are a number of point breaks around the island, most of them suitable for advanced surfers.

These recommendations were updated on May 25, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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