Surfing the Pacific Coast of Panama


May Through November On The Pacific Coast Provides The Biggest Swells
Some of Panama's surfing areas are year-round while others are desirable only during certain months due to wind conditions. Pacific waves tend to be biggest during the wet season from May to November. Dependability varies by location.

The country's most famous surfing areas are found in central Panama between the Azuero Peninsula and Coiba Marine National Park where surfers have their choice of fifteen to twenty different locations. Of these, the top spots are Venado (or Venao), where international surfing competitions are held; the scenic beach of Cambutal and most famous of all, Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina, Punta Burica, Chiriqui and Venado reputedly offer the most dependable surfing conditions.

You know you’re in surfing country when multiple hotel names contain the word “surf.” Santa Catalina is considered to have some of the best year-round surfing conditions in all of Latin America with waves up to twenty-five feet. Located on the western side of the Gulf of Montijo, the town of Santa Catalina is a five to six hour drive from the capital. Word has spread through the international surfing community, transforming this once sleepy fishing village into a surfer magnet.

Between Santa Catalina and the Costa Rica border are a number of other prime surfing locations to consider on Panama tours. The two marine national parks, Coiba and Golfo de Chiriqui, offer numerous island surfing spots. Isla Ensenada, (actually two islands) is reached from the mainland village of Tole and contains a surf resort.

Between central Panama and the capital, surfers will find another dozen spots to try. As on the Azuero Peninsula, many of these places are located just a few minutes from one another on foot or by car. Waves range from four to twenty-five feet so beginners as well as intermediate and advanced surfers will find conditions to their liking. Surf lessons and nearby accommodations can be found. If you decide to not bring your own board or boards, surf shops are plentiful in various locations on the Pacific side of Panama. Helicopter and boat transport is available to take surfers to remote off-shore locations.