As much as we love our home in Nosara, Costa Rica, and our home break Playa Guiones, we can’t say no to a new adventure. When we decided to expand our operations at Safari Surf, we looked far and wide for a wave and location that reminded us a bit of our roots in Playa Guiones but still had an independent culture and identity. Most of all, we wanted a new adventure for ourselves and our Safari Surf guests. After leaving no stone unturned and much deliberation, we settled on a little slice of paradise known as Playa Venao, Panama. To find out more about our Panama operation and why we fell in love with Playa Venao, continue reading below for Why More Visitors are Heading to Panama & How we Settled on Playa Venao for Safari Surf.
Playa Venao’s isolated location
Playa Venao is located southwest of the capital, Panama City. Panama’s serpentine shape stretches northwest to southeast, boarding Costa Rica and Columbia, as well as the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. So, what most people associate with as northern Panama, is actually western Panama, home to Playa Venao. Playa Venao is a long, sandy beach that stretches the length of a south-facing, crescent-shaped cove on Panama’s Pacific coast. To get to Playa Vanao, travelers fly into Panama City, where they can either arrange a transfer with us, take the Playa Venao Shuttle, or take the public bus to Pedasí (the nearest town) and then a cab to Playa Venao. The total trip to Venao winds through Panama’s dense jungle and takes about 5 hours. The destination is well worth the trip.
There’s a wave from every type of surfer
Playa Venao is completely south-facing, making the area a swell magnet for powerful south swells. These swells originate in Antarctica and travel north to our shores, producing formidable surf. During swell season, Venao holds some serious size but remains approachable, just like the waves in Playa Guiones. Fear, not new surfers, Playa Venao has beginner waves as well, even on big days. Playa Venao’s crescent-shaped cove allows for large swells to transform into massive waves towards the middle of the bay. On the sides of the cove, however, the waves are much smaller and even beginner-friendly. Thus, Playa Venao truly has waves for every level of surfer. An advanced surfer can travel with their beginner friends and even paddle out at the same time.
There are waves year-round
Like our home break in Nosara, Playa Guoines, Playa Venao’s swell season coincides with the rainy season during the North American summer. From mid-May to late August, Panama’s Pacific coastline is battered by gargantuan south swell after south swell, making summer the perfect time of year to visit for avid surfers. In the dry season, which lines up with North America’s winter, those same south swells arrive in more intermediate and beginner-friendly sizes. The Dry Season still has its share of sizable days, and with the extra offshore winds, the dry season is your best opportunity to get barreled.
The community is small, but there is still plenty to see and do
Playa Venao has blossomed into a bustling surf community in recent years, but it’s still small compared to the likes of Nosara and other surf destinations around the world. Part of the community’s charm is its intimate size and personable feel. As Panama is a popular retirement and expatriate destination, its residents come from all over the world. In Playa Venao, you’ll, of course, hear Spanish and English, but you’re likely to also hear Hebrew, German, Portuguese, Russian, and much more. Additionally, Playa Venao’s multi-cultural microcosm makes the diverse food scene exciting and ever-changing. There are not many surf spots where you can have Shawarma, almond flour, gluten-free pasta, and Galo Pinto within walking distance of each other.
It’s surrounded by nature
Like Costa Rica, Panama has an incredibly biodiverse ecology. As the isthmus of Central America (linking the North American continent to South America), Panama’s proximity to the equator and its dualling coastline make it home to one of the most fascinating ecosystems on the planet. Panama is home to coastal mangroves, tropical lowland humid forests, tropical mountain forests, freshwater wetlands, active volcanoes, and stunning coral reefs. Playa Venao sits on the southernmost point of the Azuero Peninsula, which is home to the adjacent Cerro Hoya National Park, which houses a sea turtle refuge. Overflow wildlife from the nearby national park, along with Playa Venao’s protected waterfall and river areas, combine to create a unique natural setting that’s unlike any other surf destination.
If you’re a fan of the Safari Surf team in Costa Rica, you’re going to love our Playa Venao, Panama team, and location. Playa Venao is an extension of what we’ve built in Nosara, and we couldn’t be more excited to grow with the Venao community. To find out more about Panama or to book your stay, head to our website.