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Panama Surf trip report from Swell Manget


(Guest post courtesy of Swell Magnet)

If Topanga is “On the beaten path”, and K38 is “Off the beaten path”, then the only way to describe Morro Negrito Island in Panama is “DEEP REMOTE”. I recently returned from a week’s stay at Steve Thompson’s surf camp and I can truly say that he has found some real secret-spots. I went down there with ten buddies and guess what??? There were a total of 11 guys surfing and not another surfing soul to be found for at least 50-100 miles. While I did not like every break we surfed and we did not get perfect surf every day, the travel and adventure experience was a priceless.

Morro Negrito Surf Camp is located on a small island called La Ensenada off the Pacific coast of Panama. To get there from LA, you need to fly 6 hours to Panama City; take a 6-8 hour bus ride to a launch not to far from a town called David, and get on a ponga boat for an hour boat ride to a serene beach that flanks the camp. Now that does not sound to time consuming on the surface, but you also need to hit the launch on a high tide. Tides in Panama are a 17-foot swing! Arriving on a low tide turned the above journey into a two-day trek. While we did enjoy getting some time to explore Panama City, the anticipation was too much for some of the guys who were a bit cranky about the delays.

 Lodging: bunks and mosquito nets, electric fans for the evenings. Restroom: manually flushing toilets and bucket showers. If you go during the less arid season that starts in the end of May, you will get fresh spring water showers and all the pure island water you can drink.

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Staff: friendly and helpful, Antonio is a master at opening coconuts and Jeff the surf-guide was great and always was looking out for us.

The Surf: To start off, the water is 80-82 degrees, the sun is intense. Bring a long sleeve rashguard and some good facial sun block. While there are a few sandy breaks, the real surf can be found with a rocky bottom, boils and tabletop reefs that keep you on your toes. Also, the tidal swings of around 17 feet can have a drastic effect on any break, your surf guide can help you with the right break for each tide and swell condition.

My favorite break is called Left-Overs. It is located off of the neighboring island, Silva. Left-Overs is a wave that sets up next to/over a rock pile and bends around in a perfectly shaped left that is like a little machine. We surfed this break only a few times, but got it from shoulder high to well over head. If you cannot surf and enjoy this wave you should pick up a new sport. This wave is made for cutbacks, floaters and off the lip snaps.

Next to Left-Overs is P-Land. This is undoubtedly the heaviest barreling wave at Morro Negrito. We caught this break on a rather big and harry day. It is also a left and while there were no serious injuries at P-Land, it did claim one board and scared the crap out of myself and most of the crew. It breaks over a gnarly tabletop reef and is unforgiving if you get stuck on the inside. Later during our visit we caught it on a smaller day we had a bit of fun (less adrenaline), but still very challenging.


Please visit Swell Magnet's Surf Travel page to finishe reading about their Morro Negrito trip.

See more photos and inquire about booking a surf trip at Morro Negrito


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