Private Surf Island, Panama

Have you ever dreamed of surfing in a tropical paradise with perfect warm water waves to yourself? This is your opportunity. We have a surf camp that opened in June 1998 that will fulfill your ultimate wave fantasies. It is located on a small island in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panama (Gulf of Chiriqui)

The surf camp is located in Panama on an island called ShangriLa . The scenery around the camp is jaw dropping and so are the waves. You will see monkeys, parrots, dolphins, sea turtles and all different types of life around Surfer Paradise.

There’s also diving, fishing, exploring, or just relaxing in a hammock.  On the island there is a variety of wild life including monkeys, many types of bird, parrots and deer.

The Surf Camp is actually two islands, one being the surf camp island and then a smaller island. The surf camp island has the living accommodations. Cabanas are located on the side of a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Water is supplied by a fresh water spring on top of the hill that has been piped down for drinking and showering. Electricity is supplied by a generator with 110-volt (American style). There’s a large sandy beach break directly in front of the surf camp.


The smaller island is about a 30-minute boat ride. This is the island of the largest waves. When the waves are flat everywhere else, you’ll find head high wave here on the average. On the north side of the island there are lefthanders going off and on the south side of the island there are right breaking waves. (Something for everyone) We provide two boat trips per day or one major boat trip per day to the various surf breaks, one early in the morning, the next later in morning or early afternoon.

We are up to 10 breaks at this time within a short distance of the camp. More discoveries are being made all the time. Some break best on high tide, some on low tide. Here’s a description of each:

Emily’s: is a left point break, often described as playful. When there’s a good swell, getting double barreled on the same wave is possible. With a swell, wave is generally, head high to two feet overhead. Tide: Medium tides.

The Point: Left point break about ½ -mile from camp. Generally breaks, 3-4 foot bigger than Emily’s, it is also fast and hollow, making it easy to get barreled on. On a big swell, it has been compared to a Pipeline-type wave. Quite often I have heard people say, “That was the best wave of my life!” Tide: Medium tides.

Sand bar/ Rivermouth break: South of big island, this break is a series of “A frames” up and down a long beach in front of a small island, just south of the main island.

El Toro: surfed at medium tide and breaks both right and left. It is between two major rock formations. .

There four breaks are on outside island. One is a big wave left reef break, next is a smaller, but very fun left reef break, the other a right break reef pass and the last is an island wrapper going right, and should only be surfed at medium to high tide.

With a good swell, the outside island can produce waves that are double to triple overhead. With an average swell, it will generally have 2-4 ft overhead conditions. When the swell is right, one of the breaks on this island has been described as a “G-Land style wave”. We’ve seen surfers get standup barrels at these breaks with spitting tubes.

We also have a two mile long sandy beach breach that is good for beginner surfers and for warming up.


Details & Pricing

We take pride in being able to offer a complete surf trip package. You will be hard pressed to find another surf camp that offers what we consider the essentials:

  • Beachfront Lodging on a secluded Island
  • Daily boat trips to private beach breaks
  • Three meals a day
  • Wireless Internet (at port facilities)

Pricing is $107 per night per guest

All guests will arrive at the International Airport in Panama (PTY) on Saturday. The taxi driver will meet you at the airport and take you to the bus station for immediate departure to the surf camp. The bus will take you to the town of Guabala’, depending on the time of day. The bus trip takes about 5 hours. Our driver will be waiting here to take on the 20 minutes ride to the port. If it is after dark, then you will spend a night in the port at some cabanas that we have built. The next morning, our boat will come ashore to pick you up and take you on a 25 minute trip to the island. The island is located in the Gulf of Chiriqui, about 80 miles from the border of Costa Rica. All food, shelter, daily boat trips are included at the surf camp. Beer, soda and snacks are extra. IMPORTANT NOTE:The surf camp does not start to charge you until you are picked up at Guabala’. That is because up to that point, you are paying the expenses of taxi and bus. So, if you (for example), arrive at Guabala’ at 5 a.m. than that is when the clock starts. The actual daily rate is $107, so if you arrive at the camp Sunday and stay until Friday afternoon, than that is 6 days. 6 x $107 = $642 total. If want to stay an extra day and have an extra day with a Saturday afternoon surf camp departure, then you will be charged 7 days.

Your departure from the island will be Friday afternoon for the trip back to Panama City. We will arrange your last hotel night in the city and your transport from the hotel to the airport for your Saturday airport departure.

No more than 15 surfers will be accommodated on the island at one time. I will be taking reservations on a weekly basis and when the week is filled, the week is filled.  We want to keep the place un-crowded with maximum surf for each person.

Most clients who sign up for this package fly into Panama city Sat. evening, arrive to the camp Sun morning after a 20 min taxi ride, 5 hr public bus ride, 30 min. mini-bus ride, then 30 min. journey to the island by boat, enjoy 5.5 full days stay at the camp, and leave camp Friday afternoon with the tide to catch their Sat. morning flights. If you fly into Panama City on a Th. or a Fri. you will enjoy 1-2 extra days at camp at a charge of $107 extra per day and if you fly out of Panama city on a Sunday the extra day on the back end costs $107.

The $642 week long package includes:

  • 30 min. mini-bus ride from the Panamerican Highway to our port (Puerto Yurre) provided by our very own Ceferino Rodriguez
  • Boat transport to the island
  • 5.5 days stay (lodging) at the surf camp
  • 3 meals per day and
  • Daily motorboat trips to the excellent reef and beach breaks that define our small but beautiful and remote camp as a wordclass surfing destination.

We will arrange for, but do not pay for:

  • Hotel stay in Panama City at the front or back end of the trip when necessary ($50/night for 2 beds, we make the arrangements!)
  • Taxi ride to and from the airport to the bus station (~$20 each way, David Fernandez will be ready to assist you)
  • 5 hr public bus rides to and from Panama city ($15 each way)

Other optional services include:

  • Surfboard rentals at $25/board/day
  • Surf Lessons at $30/hr for a private lesson, $15/person/hr for 2 people, and $10/person/hr for groups of 3 or more.
  • Massages are available for $20 for 30 minutes.
  • Outer island fishing trips are available for $320/day (divided between fishermen)
  • Cold drinks (soda, juice, and beer) at $1.50/bebida.


Fishing in the Gulf of Chiriqui region is regarded as a world class fishing destination. There have been many write-ups in sport fishing magazines about the marlin, sailfish, Wahoo and tuna that have been caught in this area.

We operate primarily as a surf camp. Fishing off the boats is offered at no charge as the boat captains drive around the surf breaks keeping an eye on the surfers. I have seen fishermen catch a dozen fish in a few hours, mostly in the 10-20 lb. size. There is no charge for this type of fishing.

We also offer an outer island trip, which requires a payment of $320 for the extra gas used by the panga boat. This can be divided by the number of fishermen onboard. This trip will go up to 15 miles from the camp. There have been some marlin hookups lately as well as small tuna, Wahoo and roosterfish.Fishing4

Also available is our 27 foot serious fishing boat with bait well, standup center console and twin 115 hp motors. We should be able to get out to the Coiba Island and Hannibal Bank area where large marlin and tunas can be caught. This boat will rent for $700 per day (guests at camp price).

What to bring

The weather is tropical, so all you will need is your trunks, sunglasses, warm water wax and alot of sunscreen. Reef shoes are a good idea for coral and rock breaks.

Citizens of the U.S.A. must have a valid passport. There is no visa requirement.


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