I just got back from a morning surf session.
Mid flood-tide, beach break, waist to chest high glassy, offshore breeze.
Decent waves for Puerto Armuelles.
I was out on my fish, and I had a bunch of fast little rides; a fine way to start the day.
Favorite Puerto Armuelles Panama Surf Spot
My favorite surf spot is located a ten minute drive north from the center of town (twelve minutes on a bicycle).
[UPDATE: since then I have discovered a much better surf spot out by the Manaca neighborhood. I will put a link here when I write that up]
The beach is called Corazon de Jesus. It is a small beach front neighborhood that is becoming popular with expats.
For that reason, it is probably the most surfed beach in town.
Corazon is a beach break, as are most of the local surf spots, with equal numbers of lefts and rights.
Surf Conditions in Puerto Armuelles, Panama
The waves there are usually clean, rideable probably about a third of the time in the rainy season.
Right now it is the rainy season.
The ocean in Puerto Armuelles has been know to be flat as a pancake for a solid month during the rainy season.
However, the rainy season is also when we get our south swell.
We have ten days of solid of 3-5 foot “epic” Puerto Armuelles conditions usually once or twice a season.
Guys come from as far away as David (an hour and a half) to catch our ideal surf conditions.
About that time, David’s own main break Playa Barqueta is getting pounded by 15 to twenty foot close-out faces. Playa Barqueta has a full-on exposure to a huge Antarctic swell. It is an all -around nasty place to surf with super dangerous currents.
In Puerto Armuelles, under ideal conditions, we are probably riding 8-10 foot faces.
The usual situation involves an offshore breeze in the morning that turns to onshore around midday – Except on cloudy days, when the wind never picks up and the surf stays good all day long.
Surfers In Puerto Armuelles
There might be as many as a dozen surfers in town, mostly old gringos, mostly longboarders.
Most of these surfers have lived and surfed in Hawaii, California, or both.
Most of the surfer gringos are busy starting up businesses.
(A few of the old guy surfers run the Hooked on Panama fishing lodge. They are often too busy with clients to get out surfing much.
Big Panama Surf Near Puerto Armuelles
Sometimes, however, they come back to town with fantastic stories about surfing the really big breaks out at the tip of Punta Burica
Punta Burica is about a half hour from town by boat, or an hour and a half by car.
There are witnesses who say the wave out there is huge, hollow, and breaks for almost two kilometers.
For guys who really want to chase big waves from Puerto, you need to drive out of the shadow of Punta Burica.
Punta Burica effectively blocks about eighty percent of the power of the prevailing southwest swell.
You Have 2 Options To Get Big Waves
1. If you are looking for professional class surf, just hop in your car and drive the two hours to world famous Pavones.
Pavones is on the Costa Rican side of Punta Burica. It hosts some of the most amazing left handed barrels on the planet.
2. You could also charter a local Puerto Armuelles fisherman to run you out to the tip of Punta Burica for the day.
You can decide to stay out on the point with Juancho and Luzmila at Mono Feliz.
In season, you can get into some awsome waves out there.
Why Puerto Armuelles for Surfing?
My wife and daughter travelled all over Panama for three solid months when we first got here in late 2006.
We visited some of the top surf destinations: Santa Catalina in Veraguas Province, Playa Venao and others in Santos Province of the Azuero Peninsula. We have since spent time in Bocas del Toro.
The bottom line was that the best surf destinations had that sort of “cool” surfer vibe that just didn’t attract us as a family.
In addition, most of the best surf places were no more than a collection of cabanas, a few restaurants, and lots of bars.
There was no sense of “place” to anywhere we visited.
That is, until we arrived here in Puerto Armuelles.
My wife and I moved from Seattle, Washington.
We did not want to lose the very livable small village lifestyle that Seattle’s neighborhoods are so famous for.
Like Seattle, Puerto Armuelles is also composed of distinct and attractive neighborhoods.
Puerto Armuelles is a highly “liveable” town with an excellent sense of place, and a “good feel” to it.
My decision to become a Puerto Armuelles surfer was a decision to put our family’s quality of life ahead of just surfing.
For our family, it was definitely the right decision.
For me, as a surfer, Puerto Armuelles has been a good choice.
Living in Panama has been a good choice for the whole family.
P.S. If you are looking for surf conditions in Panama. A good place to look is Magic Seaweed.