DISCOVER SOME OF THE BEST SURFING IN THE
WORLD BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE DOES
BOCAS DEL TORO
Legend has it that Bocas del Toro gets its name from waves crashing upon volcanic rock making a distinct sound similar to the roar of a bull. It comes to no surprise then that that nine ocean facing islands in Bocas Del Toro boast some of the best surfing in Caribbean and the world. The main surf season runs from late November to March with secondary season in June, July and August. The waves are varied to fit all needs; sand beaches of the highest quality to reef points and secrets breaks lie around every bend in this archipelago.
Sweet Bocas has partnered with famous surfing pro Terry Simms to offer special surfing packages. Surfing guests can access the numerous waves in the area by private boat. This area is rich with islands and coves that create waves as well as numerous beaches with great sand bars. There is a good range of waves for new surfers who are just gaining skills. For the seasoned surfer looking for a solid barrel, the Bocas region offers several world class waves. We love this area for its diversity in reefs and beach breaks. Because of the multiple islands in the area, there many nooks and crannies that provide uncrowded waves
Please contact us to arrange a surfing experience.
During your stay at Sweet Bocas you can take to opportunity to volunteer with Give and Surf, a locally embedded organization whose mission is to provide sustainable empowerment to hundreds of individuals in Bocas del Toro through education and community development, with whom we have made a partnership.
Not only does each volunteer receive a free surfing lesson, but can have an incredibly rewarding experience by visiting local communities and leaving and positive imprint.
With Sweet Bocas you will explore a unique, off the beaten path part of Bocas del Toro. One that offers opportunities to connect with natives, explore hidden gems, and learn how you can support our partnership with Give & Surf.
We invite you to help us support this partnership so we may continue to work with local teachers, sponsor highschool and middle school scholarships and provide access to education.
Please contact us to learn more.
Sweet Bocas Surf Guide
Isla Colon, the main island, is a seven minute boat ride from Sweet Bocas and boasts five major surf spots which our boat captains can navigate to at the best times to surf.
Located just out of town at Playa El Istmito, this is a mellow beach break with sand bottom suitable for beginners and longboarders. It throws both lefts and rights and is great for beginners to just practice standing up and going straight on the whitewater. It does need a larger swell to start showing and will be breaking smaller than everywhere else. If your kids would like to learn how to surf, this is the spot to go to.
One of the first breaks that starts showing. It’s a fun right-hander when small, and once it is head high or overhead, breaks pretty steep and powerful to both the left and right. When small, it’s suitable for beginners but not afterwards. With a sand/reef bottom, if it gets just a bit bigger, it starts closing out as it breaks in a small gap in the reef.
Surfers looking for some reef experience can try out Paunch which gently breaks mostly to the left but also has a right. With clean faces great for playing around, Paunch can get quite square if the surf is really big, which is only for experienced surfers.
Outer dumpers provides one of the fastest rides in town. With a steep drop, surfers should get ready for a short tube. This is a wave you really don’t want to fall off, as the reef is exposed right in front of you as well as caves under the hole where the wave breaks. Inner dumpers provides a longer ride with clean steep walls and at the right size can also give you some really nice tubes.
Only for advanced and pro surfers, when conditions are right, Bluff is hollow, fast and very powerful. It breaks almost over the shore and eats boards when it’s hungry.
Depending on which break you’re going to, it’s just a 10-15 minute boat ride from Sweet Bocas.
An A-frame that breaks in the middle of a channel, Old Man’s is a fun wave for everyone. Even though it’s a reef break, the water is deep enough for it not to be a hazard so it’s great for beginners.
A fun right suitable for beginners, that also breaks in the middle of the channel with a sandy reef bottom. On bigger days it can be more powerful.
The point break that put Bocas del Toro on the surfing map, it has an inner and outer section that when it’s big, can connect to make for very long rides. With 5 distinct peaks this break can hold a lot of surfers. This break starts working at 4 feet and can hold swells of up to 12 or a bit more. With the right angle, expect hollow and powerful tubes. Plenty of current. Only for intermediate – advanced surfers.)
Isla Bastimentos has several nice breaks and rarely any crowds.
WIZARD BEACH / PLAYA PRIMERA
The uncrowded beach break is great for beginners when small, and can offer pretty good conditions when it gets bigger before it starts closing out. Wizard beach usually works when everything else is too small.
RED FROG BEACH / PLAYA SEGUNDAS
A nice break for beginners who would like to try out waves a little bit bigger before they take that extra step. The beach also boasts several bars and restaurants. This is a great location to learn how to surf, and relax on the beach.
PLAYA LARGA / LONG BEACH
Although more difficult to access is has less less crowds than Carenero and several breaks that offer truly world class waves. When it’s on, challenging drops and hollow tubes are in order.
An open ocean wave on the west tip of Bastimentos, Silverbacks is only for big wave surfers. It starts showing at about 10 feet when the swell in the open water channel suddenly hits a sharp ledge that drains the reef and produces Bocas del Toro’s most powerful and sickest waves. Experts and pro surfers only! Get in early and go to the right as it’s easier to get out before it kills you.
The breaks mentioned above are the ones which are accessible to all tourists. They can be found anywhere online, with a bit of research. The simple rule in Bocas del Toro is: The easier/cheaper it is to get to, the more crowded it will be.
At Sweet Bocas, however, there are no limits and no wave is too far away. This opens up some other spots where you will practically be the only one in the water. One of these waves is Kusapin.
At a remote indigenous village called Kusapin, located on a peninsula on the far side of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, there is a magical wave. It is a very heavy beach break, which already works with a little bit of swell.
MORE ABOUT BOCAS DEL TORO
Bocas del Toro surf has been compared to Hawaii’s north shore (on a smaller scale) and certain places in Indonesia. The way the bottom drops off the coast is one of the reasons why the waves break with so much power in Bocas del Toro. Even though Bocas del Toro only receives short period swells (mostly under 11 seconds), the dramatic drops in the continental shaft create hollow, barrelling waves. Add to that some reef, a little sand or a certain angle to the coast line, consistent seasonal swell seasons, and you got yourself some serious tropical world class surf.
The winter season swells (November through April) are produced by the combination of a) the Intertropical Convergence Zone or ITCZ (where winds originating in the northern and southern hemispheres come together), b) the dry winds of the northern coast of Colombia and certain Caribbean islands which are practically deserts, and c) the Caribbean high pressure systems that form every winter in the mid Atlantic, providing significant push and pressure gradient differences.
The result of these three combined factors is a massive acceleration of low pressure pushing constant north eastern swell into Bocas’ wave window, which does not stop for weeks or even months at a time. Another swell contributor which brings a more northerly swell comes from the low-pressure systems that drive swell down from the Gulf of Mexico into other spots of the Archipelago of Bocas del Toro.
The summer season’s swell is produced by the early hurricane season coming off Africa (Bocas del Toro is not within the Hurricane zone). Just like during the winter, the swell glides over the Atlantic and accelerates thanks to the high-pressure systems of the Caribbean, and then hits several dry and windy islands in the Caribbean and northern coast of South America, producing the same type of NE swell as in the winter.