Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family Friendly Field Trip ( Surf Trip) - Playa Venao, Panama

Thetravelingclassroom decided to kick off the summer season by taking a surf trip.  (Summer arrives here in Central America in December, after the rainy season:)  We just could not wait to get some surfing in.  We drove 5 hours from where we live in Boquete, Panama to Playa Venao, Panama.   Playa Venao is more of a dry rain forest with a slightly different climate (warmer) and different animals (more bugs and reptiles).  We were able to stay for 7 days - woo who:)

Days 1 & 2:

 During our first few days we were greeted with rain.

 Did that stop us from surfing - no way!  We have some mud stained white board shorts and rash guards to prove it.
Days 3 & 4:

 We walked up and down the beach exploring.  We found a great little place called La Playita. (the next beach cove over) They have free roaming pets: emu, ostrich, red loured parrots, ducks, doves, monkeys, and a huge iguana. There is also a quiet cove where you can snorkel.
Days 5 & 6:

We perfected our surfing, found some cute critters, and went out to eat at the Playa Venao Resort Restaurant. Playa Venao is best surfed at mid to high tide.  During low tide you can typically find close outs. (Waves that are not very surfable).  Our days were scheduled around the surfable tide.  When we could surf, we surfed.  When we couldn't surf we found some other fun activities to do.
 Day 7:

 We enjoyed our last beach hours before heading back to the mountains.  So sad because we were not ready to go home...the water was clearing up and a new swell was arriving...

We came up with ten fun things that you can do with kids, other then the typical tourist activities (pool time, tours, restaurants, boat rides to islands, etc.)  Any kind of guide you can bring or get your hands on can make your time away from the waves even more interesting.

10 Fun Things To Do If You Can't Surf:

1.  Birding:   Birds can be found all during the day but you can find more during the first light of dawn (if you are not heading out for dawn patrol surfing) and at dusk.  We found some great birds (woodpeckers, hawks, herons, sea gulls, etc.) sitting by the pool and walking down the road looking in the trees. I would suggest bringing along a bird guide if you have one.

2.  Reptile hunting:  Reptiles like to hide.  The Central American Whiptail  we found was hiding behind a trashcan.  You never know what you might find when you take out the trash:)

3.  Amphibians:  Tree frogs like to find a safe spot to sleep.  We found our blue eyed tree frog in the shutters of the windows.

4.  Sand dollars:  A careful scan of the beach might lead you to find some hidden sand dollars.  If you are tempted to take some home make sure they are not alive.  You can tell by the little hairs on the sides and if you watch closely you might even see them moving in the sand.  The dead sand dollars are usually white with no hairs on them.

5.  Rocks & Sea glass:  Finding pet rocks and sea glass of different colors can be loads of fun.  We found a lot of different colorsaround the river outlets into the ocean.  Everyone started their own collection.

6.  Trees & Flowers:  Take a look around and see if you notice any different trees or plants.  The tree we found was a young Kapok or Ceiba.  There were some pretty hibiscus flowers around as well as banana and papaya trees.  Unfortunately we did not find as many coconut trees as we had hoped.

7. Crabbing:  While walking on the beach we found red crabs, sand crabs, and ghost crabs.  Just look for the little holes in the sand.

8.  Insects:  From dragonflies flying over the beach sand to lightening bugs flashing in the overgrown brush at night...this climate was perfect for insects.  Watch out for scorpions, neuro-toxin caterpillars, and venomous spiders hiding behind couches, in board bags, in shoes, or under towels.  We did find one of each while we were there and we safely disposed of them:)

9.  Shells:  While we were visiting there were not a lot of shells.  We did find a few though.  It's always fun to add a few to the jewelry making collection.

10. Sea life:  A few times we observed fishermen running down the beach, casting their fishing lines into the water; trying to catch a fish in the fish frenzy just off the shore.  The pelicans looked like they didn't have a problem catching a fish or two.

  We also saw a sting ray or two jumping out of the water.   One of the kids even got a little surfing ride on a sting ray back when she accidentally stepped on him ---oops sorry little guy:)  I was just so glad she didn't get stung.  If you ever do get stung make sure to ask for the "lingua de suegra" (mother-in law's tongue)  plant and cut it up and put it in boiling hot water.   Then put the stung area in the hot water solution as soon as you can stand it.  This help deactivate the poisons and decreases the pain.  We learned this tip a few years back when we encountered a sting ray and needed some help.

Did we miss something you like to do when you can't surf?  Please share.  Do you have a  favorite beach or surfing spot?

Thanks for stopping by and traveling with us....


  1. What an amazing trip Dinah! Your kids are so privileged!

    My favorite surfing spot is Super Tubes, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa. I spent hours and hours watching surfing on that beach. The highlight of every year was the Billabong and drooling over Kelly Slater :D

  2. Lindy, your surf spot looks really pretty, I would love to visit it one day:) I just learned to surf myself about 3 years ago now. I graduated from my huge long board to a fish tail...I can catch the wave and go down the line... Maybe someday I will learn to smack the lip and do a cutback:)


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Welcome! Bienvendidos! Shalom! from our family here in Panama to yours...

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