“For the past 15 years me and a handful of friends from the area around David have been coming down here on the weekends to surf. Sometimes just to get wet and wash of our week of working, sometimes to surf perfect waves all by ourselves. On good days now there’s maybe ten to fifteen guys out there, that’s what we call a crowded day”
- local surfer Adolfo
La Barqueta breaks on all swell directions and is part of Panama’s less explored coastline, with only a handful of others in the water on a busy day. It's an exposed beach break with a consistent but sometimes challenging wave and very little crowd. It’s somewhere competent intermediate & advanced surfers should be flocking to as a playground of improvement and relative solitude. La Barquata works best around mid tide, high tide turns into a shore break and low tide closes out but the whitewash could be surfed by beginners on a calm day. Its only down side is that it can't really hold swells larger than 5ft without a lot of water moving around, leading to sometimes challenging or unsurfable conditions.
La Barqueta gets waves all year round but works best in the dry season (December till May). During the rainy season it only works in the mornings as the wind changes from a light offshore breeze to a strong onshore wind around noon messing up the surf.
Since La Barqueta is a beach break and the sand is constantly moving the break changes every day. Usually the best spot to surf is in front of the big white building, just a bit left from the beach entrance, this is where you’ll find some friendly locals in the water on weekends.
From all the spots in the area La Barqueta catches most swell, if it’s flat you’re not going to find any waves in the area.
There’s only one surf shop in the area, Full Drop, David. They pretty much sell everything you need for surfing, from wax to rashguards. However they don’t rent out boards and will only have a couple for sale starting at 600$. There’s no other places to rent boards a La Barqueta. Bring your own board!
Las Lajas is a beginner proof beach break in the area is Las Lajas, within an 1.45 hour drive of La Barqueta. This long stretch of beach offers great conditions for beginners and intermediates to improve. Las Lajas runs best from mid to high tide. You can rent foam boards at Johnny Fiesta’s hostel for 10$ a day, they also offer accommodation starting at 10$ a night. If you’re looking for a shortboard you can check with the local surf school, they’re only open on weekends for lessons but there’s usually someone around to get you set up with a board.
To get to Coco beach you have to cross through two checkpoints at the Costa Rican border, don’t forget your passport! There are no places to rent a board. Coco beach is the perfect place to go when the swell gets too big for La Barqueta to hold (over 5 ft) and it’s just a big mess out there. It’s only a 1,5 hour drive from La Barqueta. The peninsula stop most swell coming in which makes it usually about half the size of La Barqueta. The waves get better & bigger on southern swells.
If you’re looking for an awesome weekend trip both Bocas del Toro & Morro Negrito offer some world class breaks that are definitely worth checking out when you’re here!
- text by Isabelle Eijkelkamp, picture by Sandra Reep-Gruber