Due to its proximity to Costa Rica, Panama is often overlooked as a destination for incredible surfing.
But whether you’re a tentative beginner or a seasoned pro, there are plenty of excellent waves to catch on its S-shaped coast.
Below, you’ll find seven of the best surf camps in Panama!
Promoting a balanced, healthier, and simpler lifestyle, Las Olas Surf & Yoga combines surf coaching and yoga.
Their surf camps are excellent for beginner and intermediate surfers and yogis. Their seven-day surf camp kicks off every morning with a yoga class to make sure you are sufficiently stretched out and relaxed before you hit the waves.
Also included in their package are two surf theory and video feedback sessions that focus on the theoretical aspects of surfing.
With Las Olas Surf & Yoga you won’t have to worry about a thing, as they provide premium airport transfers. You start your day off right with not just yoga lessons but a gorgeous breakfast. Not to mention delicious lunches and dinners!
You can escape from the pressures of daily life with Las Olas Surf & Yoga, as their oceanfront surf oasis is tucked away in tranquil, tropical wilderness.
Santa Catalina is a surfing paradise in Panama, and it is here that Panalive Tours provides surfing and yoga camps for all surfing levels over the course of five days.
Panalive Tours are well-known for their ecotourism and sports packages that aim to provide you with the best vacation that gets you back to nature, so by the time you go home you feel reconnected to the world around you and refreshed.
Their five-day camp includes two yoga sessions to help you fully relax, and three surf lessons provided by instructors with a wealth of experience. The surfing classes are taught in several languages. Diving tours and guided hikes are also available occasionally, whenever the surf is flat.
You’ll stay at one of the best hotels in Santa Catalina, the Vista Coiba, that offers sea view rooms, garden views, a private beach, and a bar that is well-stocked, so you can kick back and relax at the end of the day with an ice-cold drink.
You’re made to feel right at home at El Ranchito Surf Camp, a qualified surf-school with homely, cabana style accommodation situated in shady, tropical grounds. It is located at the southernmost point of Panama, and if you’re a nature lover it is a great place to escape from the hustle and bustle of your daily life.
The abundance of trees and the tranquil sounds of nature that drift into your open kitchen is sure to make all your stresses slip away. Plus, the large hangout area is a great place for you to chill with members of your party, or new friends you make at the camp!
You’ll stay at the camp for seven days, and six of those days will include 1.5-hour surf lessons. Delicious dinners are served daily, and there are vegan and vegetarian options available.
There are classes for both beginner and intermediate surfers. Beginners will have their lessons in Playa Guanico, a sandy beach with a safe current, gentle waves, and an empty line-up.
You will be taught the basics of surfing in the white, frothy waves where the water will only reach as high as your chest.
This is a great way for you to familiarize yourself with the strength of the waves and get comfortable with them. You will also be taught the techniques of popping up correctly on your board, and how to keep your balance.
After a few days you will then be taken out to the line-up, so you can learn more about the ocean.
Here you will learn about surf etiquette, judging the waves, and how to choose the right one. Your instructor will develop your skills, so you can catch as many waves as possible.
Intermediate surfers will have the chance to develop their skills and push themselves to the next level, namely staying on the board for much longer! You will receive more in-depth insight into surfing, and learn now to do the three basic maneuvers of surfing, i.e. bottom turn, cutback, and top turn.
You will also learn how to pick up speed on the wave, as only with the right amount of speed and strength can bottom turn be achieved. You will be taught on land how your agility, balance, and strength work as one, before you hit the waves to put your newly learned skills to the test!
Safari Surf School pride themselves on the eco-friendly, sustainable surf experience they offer.
Their highly-qualified and dedicated instructors are on-hand to teach you everything you need to know about surfing, and on your immersive, eight-day vacation you can make friends with like-minded travelers, while leaving the tiniest carbon footprint behind!
All the surf equipment you need is provided at the school, and you are guided through lessons by patient instructors.
The Safari Surf School package includes breakfast with water, coffee, tea, and fresh juice that is available throughout the day. You can attend surf theory classes and video review sessions, and when it’s time to go home, you will be given complimentary surf photos and videos.
The backpacker hostel accommodation encourages friendship-making, and you’re sure to leave with a wealth of amazing memories.
Safari Surf School has divided surfing levels into 3 simple categories, and you will need to let the school know of your current skill level before you arrive.
If you’re not entirely sure of what that is, the instructors will be able to determine what level you’re at during your first session and how you will proceed with your learning for the rest of the trip.
Beginner classes will start with the basics, such as proper paddling technique, placement, and the basics of ‘pop-up’ technique. You will also learn proper water safety and ocean awareness, and the ‘Turtle Roll’ surf stance.
Meanwhile, intermediate classes will teach terminology such as backside, frontside, impact zone, the line-up, and take off zone. You will be taught to catch open-faced waves independently, and bottom-turn and trimming on an open-faced wave.
The school provides high-quality, sustainable boards of all shapes and sizes from longboards to shortboards, from ‘fishes’ to everything in between. Every board is waxed with non-toxic and natural biodegradable surf wax from Sticky Bumps, and recycled surfboard leases made by WaveTribe help you keep in close contact with your board.
Every guest is given a lycra rash guard to keep the sun and rashes at bay, and the instructors are always there to keep a close eye on you to make sure you’re always safe and comfortable.
Surf Safari School believes in creating as little waste as possible, so their older boards are taken out of circulation every year and given to local schoolchildren for them to learn how to surf.
A week at the Nat Kendall Yoga retreat in Cambutal is certainly an adventure! A week of yoga and surfing at this tropical sanctuary is sure to rejuvenate you.
You will have two yoga sessions a day, one before you hit the waves to make sure you are stretched out and ready for surfing, and a yoga session after to unwind and relax after a busy day in the water.
If you’re a complete beginner to both surfing and yoga there is no need to feel intimidated, as every session is an all-levels class with modifications made to suit your skill level.
You will stay at Sansara, a comfortable, intimate beachfront oasis that has air-conditioning, an outdoor pool, and plenty of hammocks to lounge in. Every cabana also has a full in-suite bathroom, air conditioning, mini fridge, North American outlets, and a private patio.
Cabanas can accommodate up to 4 people, with king-sized beds, two queen beds, or twin-bed options.
Pillows are hypoallergenic, and the linens are made with sustainable high-quality fibers. Showers come with complimentary organic shampoo, conditioner, and soap. You can request hairdryers and irons at reception.
To make the most out of your vacation, it is recommended you bring a refillable water bottle, a few swimsuits, sunglasses, hats, yoga clothes, footwear suitable for the beach and hiking, sunscreen, insect repellant, aloe vera and coconut oil, a rain jacket for the wet June through November months, a flashlight or headlamp for strolls in the evening, personal toiletries and a first aid kit, a camera, iPod, or laptop to help you capture the experience, and books to read.
However, many of these items can be purchased at the neighboring surf shop if you forget to pack an item, or run out.
There is no need to bring a wetsuit as the water is always warm and inviting, and at Sansara, finding beach breaks, point breaks, and reef breaks is easy. There is also no need to bring yoga mats or surfboards as these are provided at the retreat, but you can of course bring your own if you wish.
All classes are small and intimate, and most of the staff at Sansara speak fluent English. However, a stay at Sansara is an excellent opportunity to practice your Spanish too!
Located in one of the most famous surfing spots in Panama, Beach Break has something for everyone, from solo travelers to family vacations, from beginners to more advanced surfers who want to sharpen their skills. Beach Break Surf Camp is a premier surfing spot located at the front of the Hotel Playa Venao.
Its location is a definite draw. The sandy bottom of the beachhead makes it ideal and incredibly safe for those who are new to surfing, but Playa de Venao has a wide variety of breaks for those who like a challenge.
No matter what your surfing level, instructors will be by your side every step of the way as your confidence grows. You will learn fundamentals as a beginner such as the correct footwork and balance, standing up, surfing safety, understanding the waves, and how to properly warm up.
If you’re a more experienced surfer but would like some guidance and to develop your skills, then the instructors can help with that too! You can learn surfing etiquette, how to read the waves, and how to improve your speed.
If you’re a total beginner, then a visit to the Beach Break Surf Camp is a bit on the pricey side.
The entire package can cost anywhere from $400 to over $1,500, but if you are serious about surfing and want to make the most out of the experience then it’s totally worth it. This price covers everything too, from the coaching fees to the meals you eat, so it could definitely be value for money.
Red Frog Bungalows is a private getaway resort that provides one of the best surfing lessons in Isla Bastimentos. They are located along Red Frog Beach, and their instructors have decades of experience to their names.
Again, the location of Red Frog Bungalows is a huge draw, as they are close to many of Panama’s best surf spots. Each morning, the surfing instructors will consult the surf report that day, so you are getting the best breaks possible.
Another appealing aspect of Red Frog Bungalows is their private sessions.
These lessons are not open to the public, making for small, intimate lessons that only guests can attend and ensure total privacy. Surf trips tend to last around 4 hours, but if the conditions are right, you can stay in the water most of the day!
Red Frog Bungalows is an ideal getaway for those who have a passion for surfing and already have some experience.
Most of the surf spots around Red Frog Bungalows are the best in the world that intermediate and experienced surfers will adore, such as Carenero, La Costa, Playa Bluff, Playa Paunch, and Silverbacks.
Surf Reports In Panama
It’s better to visit the Pacific side of Panama between April and November, while the Caribbean side is ideal during
December and March, although it can get swells pretty much any time of the year except September and November.
Surf reports for Panama can be found at surf-forecast.com.
Surf sports are categorized by region, and with the Wave Finder tool you can find the best wave in Panama each day based on local surf forecasts.
Although most people think of Costa Rica as the go-to destination for surfing in Central America, the conditions in Panama – not to mention the exquisite beaches – make it a surfer’s paradise!
Our above picks for the best surf camps in Panama are also putting Panama on the map as a desirable surfing destination.
Whether you’re a dedicated surfer who wants to totally immerse yourself in a vacation that’s all about catching some waves, or you’re a beginner who wants to dip your toes into surfing and maybe do some yoga as well, our top seven surf camps in Panama are sure to cater to your needs.