Surfing in the Azuero

The surf here on the Pacific coast of Panama has been great as of late.surf azuero peninsula

It’s normal this time of year for swells churned up from large storms in the Southern Pacific Ocean to produce wave energy that pounds the South and Central American coastline from Chile up to Mexico. March through November is the peak of the Pacific south swell season for the Americas.

Here on the Azuero I usually surf Playa Venao. It’s the most consistent and easily accessible wave we have in this area. It’s almost always ridable and is often blessed with light winds, keeping the waves there clean and surf-able. Recently the swells have often been too big for Playa Venao. Beach breaks like Venao are prone to “closing out” when the surf gets large. The large waves have no where to break clean in one direction, they stretch from one side of the beach to the other and break all at once, leaving no face to ride. The surfer is left with just one big drop down the face of the wave and a huge ball of white water after.

When beach breaks are to big usually there are reef breaks that are more manageable. Here in our area all the reefs are black lava rock not coral. Most of the reefs need just the right tide or swell direction to break, so if one is not from here and does not know the idea condition for that particular reef they are nearly impossible to catch. The tidal range in Panama can change as much as 20 feet within 6 hours. A reef that has beautiful breaking waves on it at low tide at high tide will have too much water. The swells will roll right past the reef with out even feeling the bottom, therefore not break. Or vice versa, at high tide the waves could be perfect and only a few hours later at low tide the reef is just a huge pile of rocks. Each reef has it’s perfect tide and swell size for it to work, sometimes the conditions only come together a few times a year.

Lately, due to good swell and calm winds, many of the reef breaks here on the peninsula have been “going off.” Luckily there has been plenty of folks taking photos of the surf, so I can share them here on the site. Below are some photos from one of our local reefs that the conditions were just right for about an hour one day last week. There was only three of us in the water this day trading waves. A dream for a surfer! Especially for gringos use to large crowds. The photos I am happy to share here, the location I am not. Let’s just say it is near Playa Venao and Pedasi. For the visiting surfer that may find this article and be curious as to where and when to catch this barreling right – well you got to know someone, put your time in or just get lucky!

See you in the water.

Charlie