Panama has some of the best surf breaks in all of Central America! Whether you like point breaks, beach breaks, hollow tubes, or long peelers, Panama has a variety of surf breaks to accommodate your style.
Unlike Costa Rica, Panama surf is still virgin and you can catch most of the best surf spots by yourself with your buddies. Few people know about Panama’s surfing potential, which is a big plus for surfers who visit! However, you better go soon because Panama is becoming more and more popular for surfers from around the globe.
Panama’s roads are of the best in Central and South America, with 4 lane highways all over the country for quick access to the surf breaks. The transportation system is very good, and buses and taxis are readily available from the international airport. However, if you are strapped for time, and would like to be picked up and guided to the best surf spots and hotels, try a surfing in Panama tour.
Panama is also one of the safest places in the world, so no worries about getting mugged by thugs at the beach, as frequently happens in El Salvador, Mexico, and other countries in Central America. In general, you can surf, roam the streets, party, or shop care free, at any time day or night.
Panama also has an excellent communications system so you can easily call your girlfriend, family or business back home at any time without any hassle. You can even rent a cellular phone for your surf trip, so you can be always in communication.
Panama’s hospitals are of the best in Central America, so in the event that you got beatings on the rocks or reef while surfing (God Forbid), you can be guaranteed that you will be assisted by well trained health care professionals.
The Pacific side is best in the months between April and November. The Caribbean side is best between December and March, but can get swells any time of the year except the time between September and November.
Finally, Panama is still inexpensive. At the beaches, you can generally get a great meal for under $4, and budget hotels range from $20 to $50 per room per night, depending on your style. Bus transportation can cost anywhere from $0.30 to $15 depending on where you are going.
Bocas del Toro surf season starts late November and begins to fall off in February, with a mini season during July and August. When the swells arrive, Bocas has some of the best waves and variety of breaks in the Caribbean. The sub-sea topography of the archipelago is extreme, with depths of several thousand feet just a few miles offshore, and fast, hollow waves. There are good swells creating long rides of up to 200 meters, while the most extreme breaks can reach heights of over six meters. There are also inside reefs and shoals that catch swells wrapping around the side of the islands, creating smaller waves and less current which is perfect for the beginner and still a fun ride for experienced riders. These surf spots include:
- Playa Larga – A three-and-a-half-mile long stretch of Isla Bastimentos where you can surf the beaches and reefs of Bastimentos National Marine Park.
- Cocos – An exciting ride for all skill levels.
- Wizard Beach – This spot is well suited for intermediate to advanced surfers depending on swell size and conditions.
- Silver Back – If Columbus caught this wave firing when he reached this archipelago 500 years ago, it might explain why he named Bocas “Mouths of the Bull”.
- Caranero – This is the closest wave to the town of Bocas and can get crowded, but on a good day with all peaks firing, it can hold a lot of surfers.
- Black Rock – This is a fun right that breaks over mostly sand bottom
- Paunch – Paunch’s unparalleled waves make it a must for surfers.
- Outer Dumps – This super powerful left is a fast, hollow wave breaking over critical reef bottom.
- Inner Dumps – A solid peaky left with excellent tubes rides on good swells.
- Bluff Beach – Don’t forget an extra board… this place likes to eat them.
- Punta Valiente – There is not one named wave on this stretch of coastline for over 100 miles… be the one to find the next great ride in Bocas del Toro!
The beaches of Bocas del Toro have all the usual Caribbean clichés- the swaying palms, the white sand, the warm, turquoise ocean – but without the resorts, the cars or the crowds. Scattered across the islands, many beaches can only be reached by boat or by wild treks through the rain forest, which leaves visitors in peace to enjoy the sounds of the waves and the jungle. The beaches on the outer edge of the archipelago have some impressive surf, while the sheltered waters of the bay are ideal for swimming, or simply sinking up to your neck to escape the tropical heat. Here is a list of beaches:
- Wizard Beach – Hike through the rainforest to catch some impressive waves… and maybe a glimpse of a sloth on the way!
- Caranero Beach – Just a five minute boat ride from the busy town, there’s nothing here but ocean and jungle.
- Starfish Beach – Jump on a boat and float away in these magical turquoise waters filled with bright orange stars.
- Zapatillas Beach – Experience life as a castaway on these distant desert islands – watch out for sea turtle eggs and falling coconuts!
- Playa Bluff – Several kilometers of crashing Caribbean surf are a short taxi ride from Bocas town.
- Red Frog Beach – Warm, blue water, tame surf, and gorgeous views make Red Frog popular among tourists.
- Boca Del Drago – Known for clear waters perfect for snorkeling, this beach also has a small restaurant where you can enjoy a light lunch right on the beach.