Main Kitesurfing Beach:
Giant sand beach with a prevailing cross-on wind direction but worth noting there is a pretty significant tidal movement over the course of the day, which makes it best for beginners when the tide is lower. More advanced kiters are able to get out any time of day. If you’re looking for flatter conditions, you’re best getting out at low tide or in the morning when the wind tends to be a little smoother. Although the beach never feels crowded (given the size), mornings are also quieter so you can quite often get the place to yourself or at least plenty of space. This is the perfect time to practice riding unhooked or work on trick variations with loops such as Darkslides. High tide or afternoon riding tends to offer the best ramps and strongest wind, which I really enjoy for boosting or learning board off variations where you need more time in the air. Shuffling is always a good shout here as you will have no doubt heard about the odd Stingray, which reside here. For advanced kiters, simply ride out of the shallows and you’ll have no issues. Overall, an awesome spot with a wide variety of conditions and warm water, which makes a nice change from many other parts of the world.
Punta Chame Sand Bar:
Only one word is needed to describe this place…butter! The flattest water I’ve ever kited in, the sand bar is only accessible by boat or is roughly a 20 minute kite from the main beach for those who can head straight upwind, simply kite to the point and then make the crossing. Something else that makes this spot a little more special is the fact that it only works during the Spring tides of the Luna cycle, when the tides are at their lowest point. You can plan your stay by checking out the Punta Chame tide tables to ensure you’re here when it’s fully out. Heading here feels like a bit of an adventure given that it does take a bit of commitment to get to and it’s worth heading with a buddy just to be safe. The effort is definitely worth the reward though, once you reach what must be kilometers of glass like water.
The Mini Lagoon:
Both lagoon areas in Punta Chame work best around mid-tide as at low tide they are shallow/empty and at high tide they can become more choppy. This gives you a good 2-3 hours during each cycle however, to go and play. The ‘Mini Lagoon’ is a short 5-10min downwinder from the main beach and is a good spot to head if you’re on your own or not as confident in your ability to get home. If you see the mansion downwind of you then you’ve made it to the right spot. Best to head here in the morning when the beach is less busy if you can and a great option if you’re after some flat water but the sand bar isn’t an option. Can get more crowded in the evening given how accessible it is.
The Large Lagoon:
As featured in Hidden Lines Chapter 3 with Youri, Kevin and Nick, the ‘Large Lagoon’ is place to go for anyone keen on a freestyle session. Roughly 20 minutes downwind of the main beach (head past the ‘Mini Lagoon’ and you’ll find the place. This one is a really big space so there’s plenty of room for you and your mates. If you can organise yourself a driver, there’s also the option of getting someone to get you afterwards from the roadside to bring you back to town. This spot is best for more advanced kiters and it’s best to give yourself plenty of space as there are some downwind obstacles.
Besides the options described above, if you do get yourself a day where it looks like the wind won’t take a midday siesta, then it’s worth ensuring your friendly with at least one of the local fisherman. You can charter one for $150 or so with your mates and then head towards Panama City for an hour or 2 in the boat. Out to sea there’s myriad little islands, ship wrecks and other things to see. Choose and island to stop at, pump up and you’re on your way. You’ll find flat water sections and get to check out the best bits you’ve seen on the way out heading back by kite. Visit the sand bar if it’s out or even head to the lagoons, you can choose your own adventure here. On the occasion I did this total kite time was around 4 hours so you’ll no doubt get your fix for the day with this one.
Places to stay:
Ready for those incredible spots but still need a place to stay?
Check out the Panama Kitesurfing Guesthouse right at the Main Beach.