6 Top Panama Surfing Schools for Both Beginners and Experts

One of the biggest open secrets of Panama is how fantastic it is as a surfing destination. It’s one of the best surfing countries in the world with the best surf instructors. If you or your kids are looking to learn how to surf, you need to find the best Panama surfing schools out there.

Almost every major hotel and beach in Panama has surfing schools and surf camps for their clients. Among the best surf camps in the isthmus are the Beach Break Surf Camp, Hotel Santa Catalina Surf Camp, and Panama Surf School San Carlos. There’s also the Red Frog Bungalows, La Buga Dive Center and Surf School, and Sansara Surf and Yoga.

These surf camps are among the best surf classes that give superb surfing lessons. If you’re around these places and you want to learn how to ride a wave, go to these classes. They can give you superb instructions that will make you a much better surfer.

Surfing Around Panama

Before we talk about finding the best Panama surfing schools, we need to first understand the surfing scene in Panama. The isthmus has a variety of breaks that correspond to the skill of its users. With so many beaches to choose from, you can be there all day and not feel like stopping.

Panama is in a unique position in the world when it comes to surf spots. Its beautiful beaches are only rivaled by surfing meccas like Hawaii, Sydney, and Brazil. The country has beaches that face both the Pacific and the Carribean, giving it a good variety of options.

Panama’s best surf season in Panama is from April to June. This is the time when the seasons are changing from dry to wet, so there’s more wind activity. You will see offshore winds the entire day, together with some of the most consistent swells.

If you want to play along the Pacific Coast of Panama, July to August is another great time. The waves that you will get from the southwest are fantastic, as low-pressure areas form on the other side of the Pacific. You can get beautiful overhead waves during this time, which can be as much as double in size.

For complete beginners, it’s best to surf around the early periods of the dry season. This starts from around mid-December, so January to late March is a great time to play. The winds will be light, the weather will be sunny, and expect very mild swells. These waves offer a good period to find surf classes in Panama.

You would also want to consider moving away from the crowd in Panama. Holidays in Panama peak during holidays, including Semana Santa or the Holy Week before Easter. Christmas and New Year also have the beaches packed. Depending on if you’re ok with a crowd, places like Playa Venao and Santa Catalina come in crowded all year.

What Are The Best Surf Beaches in Panama?

surfer on the crest of the wave

When looking for places to go, there are many prime locales for surfing in Panama. These places include:

  • Playa Venao, South Los Santos
  • Santa Catalina, Veraguas
  • San Carlos, Panama Oeste
  • Red Frog Beach, Isla Bastimentos
  • Bocas Town, Bocas del Toro
  • Playa Cambutal, Los Santos

There are more beaches available to many surfers, but a good chunk of these places don’t have developments. In this case, most of the list we have above are great places to learn surfing.

If you’re an advanced surfer, you will find many surf spots in many of the more isolated beaches in Panama. This, however, needs more than money. You would need a way to move around, including camping gear and a way to survive alone.

For people looking for the biggest swells around Panama, you would want to have boat access too. Many of the surfers who swear by Panama’s swells point to islands accessible only by boat. If you don’t want to waste your money and even have a bit of an adventure, it’s best to ask. Talk to the locals and they’ll point you in special surf spots where you’ll only find yourself and 4 other surfers.

If you’re looking to learn from the best Panama surfing schools, here are some of the best around.

1. Beach Break Surf Camp, Playa Venao

Beach Break Surf Camp is one of the most premier surfing spots and beachfront hotels. It fronts the Hotel Playa Venao for accommodations, providing classes to surfers of all levels. It’s one of the best choices to start your surfing journey, whether you’re alone or with family.

Beach Break is in Playa Venao, which is one of the most famous surf spots in Panama. It has classes for both beginners and more advanced surfers who want to learn extra skills. Why would you want to go here?

What makes Beach Break Surf Camp different is the locale. The sandy bottom of the beachhead makes it very safe for beginners. Playa De Venao also has different breaks where you can test your mettle.

The camp offers coaching sessions for different surfing levels from start to finish. People will be there to handhold you as you gain confidence and the right skills to boot. If you’re a beginner, expect some fundamental details taught to you. These include:

  • Surfing safety
  • Warming up
  • Fundamentals of footwork and balance
  • Standing up
  • Understanding the waves

If you already have good experience surfing but still need some work guidance, they also have coaches that can help. They can help you improve on some more advanced skills, including reading the waves. They will also teach you surfing etiquette, and improving your speed.

Is the entire surf camp worth it?

Beach Break Surf Camp can cost a pretty penny if you are a total newbie. You would need to pay for the entire package, which goes anywhere from $460 to more than $1600. If you don’t mind paying, you’ll get to cover everything, from coaching fees to your meals.

They also have other activities you can do so you won’t tire yourself out of the entire thing.

2. Hotel Santa Catalina Surf Camp, Veraguas

Among the best surf spots in Panama is Santa Catalina, located in the sleepy locale of Veraguas. From here, you’ll find different surf camps available to you, so all you need to do is pick. The best in the area, however, is Hotel Santa Catalina’s Surf Camp.

Known as Kenny’s Surf Camp since 1981, Hotel Santa Catalina renovated its facilities in 2010. Since then, they offered different kinds of surf retreats for tourists and families. They have everything for different skill levels, so you won’t find it hard to learn how to surf.

What makes Hotel Santa Catalina unique is its location. Even within the locale, their beachfront is superior. They have a beach break that is great for beginners trying to learn. The hotel’s beach also has a nice point break for more experienced surfers.

If you want to try by yourself, the hotel offers the use of their surfboards and longboards for free. The staff also know their stuff, with the coaches providing easy to understand lessons. It’s the total package that you’re looking for if you’re in Santa Catalina to relax.

Apart from surfing, they also offer yoga lessons during their surf retreats, great for families. Their rooms allow for great accommodation, providing clean and hygienic abodes when you rest after surfing. If you get tired of surfing, you can also go around diving, snorkeling, and play some indoor games.

If you’re here to surf, you can enjoy surfing as much as you want. Their world-class surf break is hard to match, even by others from the same area. It’s the open-secret of a beautiful surf paradise.

3. Panama Surf School, San Carlos

So far, we’ve listed hotels that double as Panama surfing schools. While this is common across Panama, there are also legit surfing schools in the isthmus. One of the most legit teams that do so is the Panama Surf School in San Carlos.

Panama Surf School is the only legitimate surfing school closest to Panama City itself. They provide daily classes to all skill levels, with bilingual instructors who are there to help. Their home base is in El Palmar, which has one of the best swells in the area.

El Palmar has among the most newbie-friendly waves, with its consistent beach breaks giving a long, gentle wave. This movement gets more powerful as the rainy season comes closer, so you can get a better challenge as you learn.

Panama Surf School takes advantage of this great beach, providing superb surfing classes from concept to application. If you have children, the surf school is great at teaching them concepts that are easy to understand. Their teachers are patient and have the right skills that will further your child’s skills further.

If you’re an adult wanting to learn how to surf, they also have private lessons you can enjoy. They will teach you everything, from how to paddle to moving through different boards. Instructors are friendly and their experience is hard to match.

Panama Surf School specializes in teaching newbies, especially with the beach conditions. You can keep coming back to get their lessons as their instructions are inexpensive. Many students go back to the surf school many times a year, with students from 7 – 57 and up.

4. Red Frog Bungalows, Isla Bastimentos

If the review was from a few years ago, one of the possible surf camps we will endorse is the Selina in Red Frog. Many customers started to complain about the quality of service, however, so we had to look deeper. Out of nowhere, we found one of the best surf camps in north northwest of Isla Bastimentos.

We’re talking about Red Frog Bungalows, which is a private getaway resort that offers one of the best surf lessons in the locale. You can find them along Red Frog Beach, with surf guides up to 20 years of experience under their belts.

What makes Red Frog Bungalows great is their dedication and their proximity to the best surf spots. Every morning, surf guides will start their day checking on the surf conditions for the day. This care allows them to find only the best breaks you can use.

What we love about Red Frog Bungalows are their private sessions. Their lessons are not open to the public, providing surf lessons and guidance only to their guests. Their surfers only go around a dozen at most at a time, which means you get a ton of privacy.

Most of their surf trips last for around 4 hours, but on a good day, they help you stay on the waters most of the day. By the time you get out of their facilities, your surfer’s “gas tank” is on full.

Red Frog Bungalows is best for people who have a good surfing experience under their belt. Most of the local surf spots are some of the best in the world, great for intermediate to experienced learners. These surf spots include:

  • Playa Paunch
  • Playa Bluff
  • Silverbacks
  • Outer Dumps Left
  • Inner Dumps
  • La Costa
  • Carenero

As you can see, Red Frog Bungalows offers access to the most advanced surf spots in Panama. They can help teach you to become a better surfer, even with our experience.

5. La Buga Diving Center and Surf School

If you’re looking for some premiere experience when it comes to surfing, your best bet is the La Buga Diving Center and Surf School. Located in Bocas Town, the heart of Bocas Del Toro, if offers some of the best surfing instructions in the country.

La Buga is famous across the country for being one of the best, if not the best, dive and surf centers in Panama. They offer lessons from beginner to expert level, changing their lessons to your experience level.

They take advantage of the wide array of options that surfers have in Bocas Del Toro. Different areas have something for a different skill level, so they bring you to those spots and teach you. Their surf instructors will make sure you have a good time every time.

For starters, the instructors of La Buga Surf School will bring you around Isla Bastimentos. The conditions here are some of the best during the right season. They will teach you first about the specific theories about surfing, including safety protocols and etiquette.

If you want to do other activities, you can go around and drive underwater. They offer world-class diving facilities where you can get your license too. Whether you need a quick lesson or a long-term surfing class, La Buga Surf School is the best choice for you.

6. Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort, Cambutal

For those who find themselves around Cambutal, one of the best surfing schools there is also one of the best hotels. We’re talking about the Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort, offering the best surfing on this side of Panama. Their holistic, hands-on approach is among the best in the biz too.

Sansara Surf Resort offers different levels of instruction for various skill levels. They offer lessons for beginners who want to learn how to stand up and ride. Sansara also has lessons for intermediate surfers who want to feel better, bigger waves. They also have expert level surf guides that can be there to work out and experience point breaks with you.

You can go to Sansara during a week of surfing retreat. You can go there as a solo tourist looking to discover your love for the waters. Come there with friends and family and enjoy a vacation you will never forget.

The experience in this beautiful surf destination is nothing short of amazing. The location of the beach converges with the jungle, so you don’t only get surfing lessons. Your entire experience is wondrous and downright enjoyable.

The surf team in Sansara is among the best in the business. Your coaches and the staff care for your experience, so you can expect to feel like you’re in paradise. Everyone will teach you the best surf spots and give you the best instruction in your life.

Whatever you do, Sansara Surf and Yoga Resort has some of the best surf lessons for you. If you come there, we’re sure that you won’t notice the days going by. Sansara has the perfect surf you will enjoy for sure.


Finding the best surfing schools in Panama is a matter of searching. Most of the best surfing classes are available in resorts themselves, which makes sense. Their proximity to the best beaches and surf spots give them some of the best surfing options in Panama.

If you plan on learning how to surf in Panama, you can do so with a retreat. A few days with these Panama schools will give you the best lessons in your life. Whether you’re a total beginner or someone with good experience, some instruction never hurts.

Learning more and more surf techniques and playing around world-class surf breaks is always superb. Once you learned enough, find your own piece of Panama by traveling around. See hidden surf spots that only a few people like you share.

Do you plan on surfing around Panama? Do you have your own surfing secrets around Panama? We’re sure you and your family would love our picks for the best Panama surfing schools.

Matt Romero

I’m Matthew Romero, one of the guys behind PanamaLifeInsider.com I am incredibly passionate about Panama, its beautiful territory, and all the incredible opportunities which offer to people coming here from all over the world both either visiting and settling. In this blog, I decided to share my passion with you!

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