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Somewhere on the bay of Japan, and on the shores of Chile, there is a storm conjuring. A combination of rain and wind is pronouncing itself over the ocean. Amongst this, a combination of waves have started to form, starting their journey across the ocean, carrying currents, and waiting to fulfill their purpose. Some waves will move and ultimately break upon rocks and coral. Waves that are lucky will continue their journey, gathering energy and finding their purpose in Panama, in a place where some people would consider a surfer’s paradise.

Beach Break Hotel, Playa Venao

Playa Venao is a remote beach town approximately 5 hours and one rough car ride away from the city. People have traveled from places such as Canada, Germany, Israel, and the United States to experience one of Panama’s most well-known surf spots. For an experienced surfer, Venao is a must visit. But for those whose idea of surfing is going on a boogie board and have zero experience with surfing, Venao is still the place for you.

No matter which beachfront hostel or hotel you lodge at, you are guaranteed to find a shirtless and tan professional surf instructor that will guide you confidently and safely into the waters. For my first paddle out, I was guided by one of Beach Break’s hotels patient instructors. Other options for learning how to ride the waves include Surf Dojo and Selina’s. If you are a beginner surfer like myself, you won’t feel the pressure of having to surf the bigger wave to keep up with everyone else. The cove is laid out to appease multiple levels. Smaller waves near the cove and bigger waves in the middle.

My very first lesson started with me pressing my chest against a line drawn on the sand and controlling my arms mimicking the paddling I would do in the water, smooth yet deliberate. On the sand, I learned to move my legs and position my feet, learning everything I would do in the water. When I finally entered the warm salty Pacific Ocean, I held onto the front end of the board, gliding over the waves while splashes of water greeted my face. As we walked closer and closer to meet the wave break, I felt nervous but slightly self-assured.  Lucky for me, I had my instructor close by, and even though I am not a strong swimmer, knowing that I could stay in shallow waters and still surf a nicely sized wave and allow a blanket of security to lay over me.

Photo by Ramon Martinez Photography

For my beginnings attempts, finding my balance was difficult, I would fall into the water, stand back up, press my feet into the ocean floor, wipe the salt from eyes and mouth and go again. Finally, after trial and error, I was able to find my balance on the board, and it was such a freeing experience, gliding along the water. Of course, my surf instructor was holding onto the back of my board. Then in a matter of minutes the water changed, waves that were smoothly folding over were now cutting in at all angles fast and direct. I could feel the strong currents from the riptide but because we remained in the shallow in we weren’t too affected. After a few slightly aggressive waves, mother nature rewarded us with calmer waves, in which I was able to ride and with my eyes on the horizon, engaging almost every muscle in my legs to stay balanced it indeed felt like I was flying.

Photo by Ramon Martinez Photography

The average surfer is drawn to Venao because you get what you came for.  Also, Because of the natural curvature of the bay, it allows them to surf almost every day of the year. And for those who always wanted to try surfing or are curious, make your next vacation to Playa Venao in Panama, where you will be relaxed and accomplished.

Kiersten Brown is a Travel Coach whose mission is to help women of color create their dream life by living in their dream country. You can get her free guide to living abroad here. Or follow her adventures on @kikimarieb15. Have an article, idea, opinion, tips, or just about anything else Panama related you would like to write about on PTY Life? Become a guest blogger like Kiersten by sending a message to

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Kiersten Brown is a Travel Coach whose mission is to help women of color create their dream life by living in their dream country. You can get her free guide to living abroad here. Or follow her adventures on @kikimarieb15.

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