The 10 Best Surfing Lessons & Surfing Schools In Panama

Panama is famously known for the Panama Canal, its rich biodiversity, and amazing natural attractions, but that’s not all. Panama is actually one of the best-surfing destinations in the world.

The true surfer’s paradise has a huge variety of breaking points and reefs perfect for any keen surfer. There is something for every level of surfer. The incredible variety of beaches gives anyone from beginner surfers to seasoned professionals the opportunity to hone their skills or simply stand up on the board.

The 10 Best Surfing Lessons & Surfing Schools In Panama

With so many surfing hotspots on offer in Panama, you can imagine how many surfing lessons and schools there are to choose from. Finding the best lessons for you can be tricky. Don’t worry though we’ve done the hard work for you.

We have produced a list of the 10 best surfing lessons & schools in Panama looking at what they offer you. At the end of this article, you will also find a buyers guide, providing you with some key things to think about when looking for lessons.

Without further ado let’s get stuck into the list.

1. Beach Break Surf Camp

Based in Playa Venao this surf camp is owned by lifelong surfers. They aim to share their passion for surfing through unforgettable experiences. It doesn’t matter if you are new to surfing or consider yourself an advanced surfer, there is something for everyone.

Beach Break offers a variety of surfing packages that range from 5-10 days, staying in accommodation within 3km of one of the best surfing beaches in Panama. Every stay includes 1-2 hour daily surfing lessons, surfing analysis, unlimited board rental, photographs of the day, food, and accommodation.

Beginners will learn the basics of surfing including basic maneuvers and theory. More advanced surfers will learn more technical maneuvers and work with the coaches to improve their current skill set.

If your looking to learn in a relaxed environment from high-quality instructors then Beach Break might be the one for you.

Pros

  • Lessons for all – Current surfing ability doesn’t matter.
  • Perfect for families – Beach Break has surfing packages geared towards families.
  • Location – Being right near one of the most popular beaches is a massive bonus.

Cons

  • No shorter stays – You have to choose a package that lasts at least 5 days.

2. Panama Surf School

Panama Surf School in San Carlos provides surfers with a variety of options. This surf school can offer you anything from private 1-1 lessons to an immersive surfing retreat.

With 10 years of experience, the dedicated surf coaches strive to get you up on the board. If you are more experienced maybe one of their fantastic surfing trips or surf courses is more up your alley.

Whether you prefer to learn in a group or on your own is completely up to you. This surf school offers lessons in a larger group, on a 1-1 basis, or in semi-private lessons where only 3 people are in each group.

Panama Surf School will help you gain confidence in surfing or work on your technique no matter what your age. You can be 5 or 65.

Pros

  • Huge variety – There are an unbelievable amount of lessons and camps to choose from.
  • Fun for all ages – They take surfers from 4+.
  • Private lessons – You might want to work on your technique alone.
  • Other activities – You have the chance to try other sports here.

Cons

  • No swimsuit provided – There are no swimsuits to rent/buy, you have to bring your own with you. This can be hard for those traveling light.

3. Safari Surf School

At Safari Surf School you can dive into an eco-friendly, eight-day surfing vacation. The highly passionate and qualified instructors teach you everything from the basic foundations of surfing to more advanced maneuvers and skills the better surfers can perform.

The family-run business aims to deliver the best vacation surfing experience they can. Aside from the amazing daily lessons they offer guests accommodation, food, surf theory classes, and video review sessions. This gives you as a surfer a more well-rounded experience and one you won’t forget quickly. The backpacker hostel accommodation is also a great place to make friends during your time in Panama.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly – It’s always good to try and be eco-friendly.
  • Packed itinerary – You will always be doing something at the Safari Surf School.
  • Theory lessons – This will improve your knowledge about surfing.

Cons

  • No shorter stays – Harder to work around your vacation plans.

4. Red Frog Bungalows

Founded in 2008, Red Frog Bungalows boasts the most experienced surfing lessons in Bocas Del Toro. The biggest advantage to learning to surf with Red Frog is that most of the popular surfing spots in Panama all fall within a 20-minute drive away.

This surf school has worked with some of the best surfers in the world including Kelly Slater and Felipe Toledo. On offer at Red Frog are guided surfing tours, daily lessons, 1-2 hour lessons, and enjoyable surfing escapes.

If you are an experienced surfer this is definitely the school for you. The lessons look at detailed performance analysis, looking at how you can be developed whilst surfing in some unbelievable breaks.

This school might not be the best option for less experienced surfers. The breaks are some of the biggest around that are more suited to experienced surfers.

Pros

  • Location – This school is located near all the surfing hotspots.
  • Top-quality lessons – The instructors are some of the best in Panama.
  • Experienced surfers – This school is designed to meet the needs of advanced surfers.

Cons

  • Not suitable for beginners – There isn’t anything here for new surfers.
  • Exclusive to staying guests – No public surfing lessons are available. You have to stay at Red Frog to surf with them.

5. La Buga Dive & Surf

La Buga Dive & Surf are happy to teach any level of surfer how to surf or improve. They pride themselves on offering fun and entertaining lessons that not only teach you how to surf but also how important it is to stay safe in the sea.

They offer lessons to suit all of your needs whether you are a beginner or an experienced surfer. For beginners, the surf school will take you to Isla Bastimentos to give you the opportunity to learn in some friendlier conditions. More experienced individuals will find themselves making the most of the bigger breaks where the instructors will work on the more technical side of your surfing.

Daily lessons and surfing tours are available for those that want them. The school is happy for you to book a one-off lesson or long-term classes. They want to be flexible to meet your needs.

Pros

  • Flexibility – At La Buga, you can have as few or as many lessons as you wish.
  • Adaptability – La Buga adapts their sessions to suit your skill level.
  • Location – This is another school found in a brilliant spot.

Cons

  • No surfing camp – This is not the school for those looking for an extended surfing holiday.

6. Hotel Santa Catalina Surf Lessons

Hotel Santa Catalina provides tourists with top-of-the-range surfing lessons. Surfing lessons here are designed to suit any type of surfer. You could be a seasoned professional or somebody that still has no idea what sex wax is!

One thing that Santa Catalina does very well is find suitable locations depending on your ability. They are dedicated to monitoring the surf to identify where to take beginners so that they can comfortably get to grips with how to surf. By identifying the surf that day they also ensure experienced surfers get the chance to surf the big 14-15 feet waves Panama has to offer.

The hotel is happy to transport you to the best destinations and offers private and group lessons daily, run by qualified instructors.

Pros

  • Lessons suited to you – Every lesson is adapted to suit your needs.
  • Split into groups – Each group is split into groups based on their skill set.
  • Private lessons – You might prefer to learn on a 1-1 basis.

Cons

  • No surf camps – The hotel offers no surfing camps.

7. Sansara Surf School

If you are in or around Cambutal then the Sansara Surf School needs to be your first choice. Offering different levels of lessons depending on skill levels, Sansara provides surfing lessons with a hands-on approach.

The instructors work hard to give you the best experience possible no matter what stage of surfing you find yourself at.

Their beautiful accommodation makes it easy to stay for a week, taking part in daily surfing lessons with your family, friends, or other solo travelers like yourself. At Sansara you are thrown into the surfer lifestyle whilst learning to ride a wave for the first time.

The expert-level guides can point out the best surfing spots for professional surfers and even work with you to master your technique.

Pros

  • Destination – Tropical location is always nice.
  • Variety of camps – You can stay here for a whole week or just have one lesson.
  • Expert coaches – This school has expert-level coaches for top surfers.

Cons

  • Holistic approach – The holistic approach might not suit everybody.

8. El Ranchito Surf School

In Tonosi you will find the El Ranchito Surf School. This school offers tailored lessons for beginner, intermediate and advanced surfers. The instructor here has 12 years of experience so you can rest assured that he’ll get the most out of you.

Whether you want to get on the board for the first time or master a specific skill you will find something for you here.

The schools here last 6-14 days and include daily surfing lessons lasting 90 minutes, use of the equipment during your whole stay, accommodation, daily transport, and photos of you surfing.

This escape is the perfect getaway for those looking for a fun/interesting week of surfing.

Pros

  • Variety of camps – You can stay for one week or two.
  • Location – Tonosi is one of the best places to surf in Panama.
  • Expert instructor – The instructor at El Ranchito is highly qualified.

Cons

  • No daily lessons on offer – You have to take up the option of a full week’s camp.

9. Mono Loco Surf School

Mono Loco Surf School run fun and safe lessons for all level of surfer. Based in the perfect location in Bocas Del Toro, Mono deliver a variety of lessons. The lessons available from Mono Loco include 1-5 lessons, group classes, and private one-to-one sessions.

This gives great choice to those of you who are looking to surf with your friends and family or on a 1-1 basis to develop your ability. On top of this Mono Loco are happy to take you out on a special guided surf tour. On this tour, you will be taken to a number of surfing hotspots.

Once at the surfing hotspots, you will be given time to surf on your own. For those less confident on the board, the instructor will work with you to get you up and running.

Pros

  • Variety of locations – The chance to see other surfing spots gives you a more varied experience.
  • Choice of lesson – Being able to choose between 1 and 5 lessons lets you plan around your holiday.
  • Suitable for all – Anybody can learn to surf with Mono Loco.

Cons

  • No surfing camps – There are no specialized surfing camps with this school.

10. Bocas Surf School

As far as location is concerned Bocas Surf School is arguably the best on this list. This surf school is an over-the-sea guest house. You could only be closer to the sea if you were in it.

The surf school offers daily one-off lessons, three-day camps, and one-week getaways to its guests. The dedicated surf instructors provide world-class surf theory before taking you out on the water to improve your technique. For more advanced surfers, lessons are adapted to look at more high skilled movements and techniques.

Included in the stays at this school are your accommodation, board rental, transportation, and your breakfast.

If you are looking to dive into an experience then we have to recommend you to stay here for one of the camps. The location is simply magnificent and the instructors are highly qualified, and who doesn’t want to wake up on the water every day. We think you would regret not doing more than a few lessons here.

Pros

  • Location – By far the best place to stay on this list.
  • Variety – There are so many lessons and camps to choose from.
  • Package – The package on offer is a life-changing experience.

Cons

  • Only breakfast is included in the package – You will have to find somewhere else to eat your other main meals.

Takeaway

Now it’s over to you… Whether you are a beginner looking to ride a wave for the first time, or an advanced surfer looking to master your technique, Panama has something for everyone.

This list has outlined 10 of the best surfing schools out there, all of them offering something unique. Some offer long stays with daily lessons and theory, whilst others provide 1-1, one-hour lessons. Now with this list, it’s up to you to narrow the options down to find the one that suits you best. Good luck!

Buyers Guide

Here are some things to think about when looking for the surf school that suits you.

Camp VS One-Off Lessons

Are you looking for a one-off lesson or do you want a fully immersive surfing holiday? You need to think about this carefully when looking for the perfect school. Some schools offer both options whilst others only provide one service.

Which type of lesson you are looking for will greatly impact your experience.

Group Or Private Lessons

If your want to book private lessons make sure the surfing school you a picking offers them. Not all schools can offer this service so you need to have a good look at what is on offer. The last thing you want to do is book a one-week surfing camp to then find out you have to be put in groups of 6.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Surfing School Worth It?

Yes, Attending a surfing school is definitely worth it. Learning from an experienced surfer is an invaluable experience and one you won’t forget. You will have a lot of fun and improve your surfing drastically.

What Is The Best Surfing Location In Panama?

Panama has a wide variety of good surfing hotspots. Playa Venao, Bacos Del Toro, Santa Catalina, and Isla Bastimento are just a few of the most popular surfing spots.

Is Bacos Del Toro Good For Surfing?

Bacos Del Toro is the surfing Mecca of Panama. The warm waters with big swells result in the perfect surfing conditions for beginners and intermediate surfers. Breaks can easily reach 14-15 feet and the tropical setting creates any surfer’s heaven.

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