Bocas del Toro surfing photo courtesy of James Vybiral
It seems like people use phrases like “world-class” too casually these days. But one glance at the picture above indicates that Bocas del Toro is a serious world-class surfing destination. Five years ago, Stab Magazine ranked Bocas del Toro as the 11th best beach-break in the world:
“Bocas del Toro, a collection of equatorial islands on Panama’s right coast have a beach or two that’d get a young Leo DiCaprio’s travel bug itching. We’re talking remote rainforests teeming with jaguars and toucans, lined with powdery beaches, surging with hollow, dumping wedges … and a slab or two for the hellions. Indeed, there’s no Surfline cam giving you the heads up, and that’s precisely what makes it worth missioning for.” – Stab Magazine
The largest waves, according to MagicSeaWeed, are in January and February when they average seven-foot swells with 82% consistency. At times, the swells reach 12 feet. The smallest waves are generally in September and October when the average swell is three feet with little consistency. Surfing is always comfortable as the Caribbean water temperature in Bocas stays between 80.7–85.7°F (26.7–30.4°C) year-round.
|Bluff Beach||Left and Right Breaks||Break close to shore|
|Paunch Beach||Left and Right Breaks||Left—barrels when the swell is big|
|Silverbacks||Right Break||Biggest waves|
|Carenero Point||Left Break||Longest rides|
|Wizard Beach||Left and Right Breaks||Good surf at all stages of the tide|
Bocas del Toro’s Silverback photo courtesy of James Vybiral
Bocas’ geological positioning is what makes the surfing special. The mountains to the west shelter the area, allowing for offshore east-northeast winds created by Caribbean storms. This creates predictable quality waves, especially in January and February.
Some of the best surf spots, according to MagicSeaWeed, include Isla Colón’s Bluff Beach and Paunch Beach, Isla Carenero’s Carenero Point, and Isla Bastimentos’ Silverback and Wizard Beach.