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Panama’s Surf Scene: Exploring Hidden Gems and Popular Breaks

Jan 26, 2024

As we journey through Panama’s diverse surf destinations, from the renowned Santa Catalina to the off-the-beaten-path paradises like Playa Cambutal, the allure of this Central American gem becomes apparent. Panama’s surf spots, rich in variety and surrounded by stunning landscapes, invite enthusiasts to explore the depths of its surfing secrets—a journey that promises not just thrill but also a profound connection with nature. Join us as we take a deeper look into Panama surfing beaches and the abundance that awaits in this surfer’s paradise. We hope to provide you with the foundation for your Panama surf map to plan out your next Central Americasurf vacation.


Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina, located on the Pacific coast of Panama, has emerged as a premier surf destination, celebrated for its powerful waves and breathtaking scenery. This idyllic coastal town has gained international acclaim among surfers, attracting both locals and enthusiasts from around the globe.

The region is renowned for its year-round surf, with the peak Panama surf season occurring from April to October when the swell is at its strongest. However, even during the off-season, surfers can find challenging waves, ensuring that Santa Catalina remains a sought-after destination throughout the year. Water temperature ranges from 78°F – 82°F throughout the year, providing warm and comfortable conditions for surfers.

La Punta

La Punta is one of the most famous Panama surfing spots in Santa Catalina, known for its powerful and consistent waves. This classic point break is located at the northern end of the beach and offers an exhilarating surfing experience with a challenging wave that breaks over a rocky point. During the peak surfing season wave heights can range from 4 to 12 feet, offering a substantial challenge for advanced surfers.

El Estero

El Estero is a versatile surf spot located near the mouth of the Rio Escudo de Veraguas. This area caters to surfers of various skill levels and is known for its beach break, making it a more forgiving option compared to La Punta. This sandy bottom beach break varies from small to moderate, typically 2 to 6 feet, making it an ideal spot for surfing in Panama for beginners and intermediate surfers.

Punta Rocas

Another notable surf spot in Santa Catalina, located towards the southern end of the beach, this point break offers a mix of challenging waves and a more relaxed atmosphere. The waves here can be fast and powerful, and the rocky bottom adds an element of complexity to the ride, making it suitable for advanced surfers.


Bocas del Toro

On the northeastern edge of Panama, Bocas del Toro comprises a collection of islands, each contributing to the region’s distinct appeal. The main island, Isla Colón, serves as the central hub for surfers, offering a variety of accommodations, restaurants, and party scene. The entire archipelago is characterized by its vibrant Caribbean culture, with colorful buildings, reggae beats, and a relaxed pace of life.

What sets Bocas del Toro apart is the diversity of its waves. Surfers can find a range of breaks suitable for different skill levels. From powerful reef breaks to more forgiving beach breaks, Bocas caters to both beginners looking to catch their first wave and seasoned surfers seeking a thrilling challenge. The peak surf season aligns with the dry season, from November to April. Bocas del Toro maintains warm water temperatures throughout the year, typically ranging from 78°F to 82°F.


Carenero, located near Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro, is a small island featuring a variety of breaks including beach breaks and reef breaks. The waves can range from mellow to powerful, providing opportunities for surfers of different skill levels. The swell at Carenero varies, and surfers can expect waves ranging from 2 to 8 feet.

Playa Bluff

Playa Bluff is primarily known for its powerful beach break, producing both left and right-handers. The waves here can be fast and challenging, making it suitable for intermediate to advanced surfers. The swell at Playa Bluff can reach significant heights, ranging from 4 to 12 feet.

Playa Paunch

Located on the northern tip of Isla Colón, Playa Paunch is a popular surf spot with a party atmosphere. The area offers a mix of beach breaks and reef breaks, making it suitable for surfers of varying skill levels. Featuring both left and right-handers, the waves can range from playful to powerful, accommodating both beginners and more experienced surfers. Surf at Playa Paunch can vary, with waves typically ranging from 2 to 8 feet.


Located on the northern part of Isla Bastimentos, Silverbacks is a powerful reef break known for its challenging waves. The spot is accessible by boat and offers a more remote and rugged surf experience. Silverbacks is a heavy reef break, producing powerful left-hand waves that break over a shallow reef. Recommended for advanced and expert surfers due to the challenging nature of the waves and the shallow reef, waves here can reach considerable heights, ranging from 4 to 12 feet.


Riviera Pacifica

Conveniently located along the Pacific coastline with easy access from the city, Riviera Pacifica stands as a surfer’s paradise, boasting accessibility and a diverse array of Pacific surf spots. This region, renowned for its consistent waves and pristine beaches, attracts surf enthusiasts seeking a perfect blend of convenience and surfing variety.

The combination of point breaks, beach breaks, and reef breaks provides surfers with diversity. From powerful waves for seasoned surfers to more forgiving breaks good for beginners, Riviera Pacifica caters to surfers of all levels.

Punta Chame

Punta Chame is a long, sandy peninsula that juts out into the ocean, offering surfers a mix of conditions and a relatively secluded environment. Punta Chame features a beach break, making it suitable for surfers of various skill levels. The waves can vary from mellow to powerful and typically range from 2 to 6 feet, offering a moderate and consistent surf experience.

El Palmar

El Palmar is a popular surf destination located in the Gulf of Panama, near San Carlos. Known for its consistent waves and beautiful sandy beaches, El Palmar attracts surfers and beach lovers alike. Featuring a beach break with both left and right-hander, the waves are generally moderate ranging from 2 to 8 feet, making it an ideal spot for surfers of all skill levels.

Playa Malibu

Situated in the western part of Panama, near the town of Gorgona, Playa Malibu is known for its long sandy stretches and a mix of surf breaks that cater to surfers seeking both consistency and variety. With both beach breaks and point breaks, there are options for surfers of different skill levels. Swell brings waves with heights ranging from 2 to 10 feet.


Playa Venao

Playa Venao is a renowned surf destination located on the Pacific coast of Panama, approximately 25 kilometers southwest of Pedasí. This beach has gained recognition for its consistent and quality waves, attracting surfers from around the world. Playa Venao’s reputation as a reliable surf spot is further enhanced by its role in hosting international surfing competitions.

The beach break at Playa Venao produces both left and right-handers. Average heights range from 3 to 8 feet. During peak swells, the waves can reach even greater heights, providing challenging conditions for more advanced surfers. Exposed to the Pacific Ocean ensures a steady supply of swells, contributing to the spot’s reputation for reliability.


Morro Negrito

This remote beach is a haven for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path surfing experience, away from the crowds and surrounded by untouched natural beauty. Morro Negrito’s pristine setting and challenging waves make it an ideal destination for adventurous surfers.

Characterized by a variety of wave types, including reef breaks and beach breaks, the coastline features an exposed rugged and rocky terrain, contributing to the formation of powerful and challenging waves. Surfers can encounter both left and right-handers.

Waves at Morro Negrito can vary in size, with average heights ranging from 4 to 10 feet. During peak swells, the waves can reach even greater heights. The remote location and exposure to Pacific swells contribute to the consistent and powerful nature of the waves.


Playa Cambutal

A hidden gem renowned for its powerful waves and serene natural surroundings, this secluded beach has gained recognition among experienced surfers seeking an off-the-beaten-path destination that seamlessly combines challenging surf conditions with opportunities for relaxation, yoga, and an intimate connection with nature.

Playa Cambutal is characterized by a mix of point breaks and beach breaks, contributing to the variety of surf conditions. Surfers can expect both left and right-handers, creating a dynamic surfing environment. The waves at Playa Cambutal can be substantial, with average heights ranging from 4 to 10 feet. During peak swells, experienced surfers can encounter waves reaching even greater heights. Exposed to Pacific swells ensures a reliable and challenging surfing experience.

Playa Cambutal is not only known for its challenging waves but also for its tranquil and untouched natural surroundings. Surrounded by lush hills and a pristine coastline, the beach offers a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of more crowded surf destinations. The peaceful atmosphere makes Playa Cambutal a perfect retreat for surfers seeking both adventure and tranquility. Beyond surfing, Playa Cambutal provides opportunities for yoga and relaxation. The beach’s serene environment and connection with nature make it an ideal setting for yoga sessions, allowing surfers to complement their physical activities with moments of mindfulness and relaxation. The presence of yoga retreats and wellness offerings enhances the overall well-being experience at Playa Cambutal.Surfing in Cambutal beckons to those in search of an authentic and intimate surfing adventure.


Ride the Wave: Your Next Surf Adventure Awaits

Panama unfolds as a tapestry of surfing wonders, and our exploration has taken us through some of its most coveted beaches. Santa Catalina, with its consistent and powerful waves, stands tall as a premier surf haven, offering challenges for all levels. In Bocas del Toro, the vibrant Caribbean culture meets diverse waves, creating an enticing playground for surfers. Riviera Pacifica emerges as a convenient surf haven, catering to every surfer’s taste with its variety of breaks. Playa Venao, celebrated for reliability and international competitions, beckons surfers to its pristine shores. For the adventurous souls, Morro Negrito and Playa Cambutal present off-the-beaten-path paradises, where challenging waves meet serene natural surroundings.

Discover Sansara Resort: Your Gateway to Panama’s Surfing Bliss

Amidst these surfing wonders, Sansara Resort stands as your gateway to an unforgettablesurf Panama vacation. Nestled in Cambutal, this haven not only offers luxurious accommodations but also provides access to thrilling whale-watching tours, allowing you to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. Sansara’ssurf vacation packages are crafted for enthusiasts of all levels, combining the thrill of surfing with the tranquility of yoga and relaxation. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Panama’s waves, surrounded by the comfort and luxury Sansara Resort provides. Visit our website and make your reservation today to surf, unwind, and create lasting memories at Sansara Resort.

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