Golfing and Fishing: Panama Offers the Best in the Region

Few regional projects can offer as much in one place as Buenaventura does. One of the main attractions for foreigners coming to the country is golf and fishing (and we could also mention adventures to some of the more than 1,000 islands that are part of Panamanian territory, but we’ll save that for another occasion).

The Buenaventura golf course stands out as unique in Panama and Central America. Just over a decade ago, the development of the best golf course in Panama began to take shape. To achieve this, no expense was spared, entrusting the task to one of the most prestigious design firms in the world: Nicklaus Design.

As Troy Vincent, the individual responsible for designing and constructing the course, reminisces, “Our goal was to create a classic-style course suitable for all skill levels. We had to consider existing developments during the routing process and integrate the lakes and large trees into the strategic layout of each hole. Various factors must be considered, such as wind direction, vegetation, and the rainy season. It was essential for the fairways to be covered with sand for proper drainage, and selecting the right grass was crucial due to the water source’s salinity.”

The result is an 18-hole course spanning 7,324 yards from the professional tees, with a par 72. It respects and incorporates the natural environment to provide a top-tier playing experience.

Over the years, with meticulous care and attention, the course has evolved, even playing host to significant tournaments like the PGA Tour Latinoamérica, featured in events such as the Lexus Panama Classic and the Buenaventura Classic (held from 2014 to 2016 and 2019).

We have enlisted the club’s golf professional to outline five key characteristics that distinguish the Buenaventura course as the country’s premier destination, a distinction echoed by international media.

1.- Every detail matters

This 18-hole course, which spans 7,324 yards from the professional tees and boasts a par of 72, considers every aspect. Course management prioritizes meticulous maintenance, emphasizing the crucial roles of trees and water features. Additionally, the greens feature significant undulations.

2.- The wind factor

The standout feature of Buenaventura Golf Course is the dynamic experience it offers. Depending on the presence of wind, the course feels like two distinct courses. The front nine remains relatively unaffected by wind, while the back nine, situated closer to the beach, becomes significantly exposed.

3.- There are no guarantees for an easy par here.

Whether there’s wind or not, hitting the green in two shots doesn’t assure you a par due to the size and undulation of the greens.

4.- Hole 3: the easiest and one of the prettiest

I describe hole three as a short par 4 where players can lay up with a 4 or 5 iron. From there, they can use a pitching wedge to reach the green, which is not obstructed by any bunkers. Additionally, I find it to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing holes, with stunning landscaping and natural surroundings.

5.- Be careful with hole 5

Hole 5 can heavily influence your round right from the start. It’s a highly challenging par 4 with a narrow fairway, out-of-bounds to the right, and water to the left. Strategically placed bunkers make it tough for those opting for drivers off the tee. Given its length, no other club can be effectively utilized here.

Foreigners can explore the countryside in various ways, with special memberships offering several benefits. Additionally, there’s the Expats League, described by a professional as an all-encompassing experience. It combines sports, gastronomy, and music to enrich the community with culinary delights typical of Buenaventura. A diverse range of soft drinks, beverages, and cocktails cater to various tastes. Music plays a significant role, too, with renowned artists often participating and mingling with competitors during the tournament.

But what sets Buenaventura apart as a unique course? We sought the perspective of some foreign residents.

Melissa Turgeon

“I’ve been here for five years, and I must say, this is the best course in Panama, and I come back here every chance I get. The tournaments here are phenomenal, and the conditions are always pristine. It’s not just a good place for families; it’s a great community.

The staff takes care of you and makes you feel special. And the course… it’s fantastic. It’s long and challenging, and people worldwide come to play here because of its well-deserved reputation.

It’s just a really enjoyable environment to be in.”

Brandon Sheehan

“I’ve been a club member for a year now, and I must say, the course and the practice area are in exceptional condition. The staff is incredibly friendly. When I first joined, I didn’t know anyone and wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I’ve since met people with whom I can play regularly.

Sometimes, I come alone to practice or play a quick round. What I appreciate most is the opportunity to socialize with others; the tournaments I’ve participated in have been unique. It’s genuinely a fantastic place.”

Kim Schumacher 

Foreigners and locals alike are like friends here. The facilities are fantastic, and every hole boasts its beauty. The course management is welcoming and open, making us feel at home whenever we play. Ultimately, we’re all friends enjoying being on this golf course together.

Simone Shumacher

I am just beginning my journey in golf, and I find coming here very relaxing. Listening to the birds adds to the tranquility as I practice and strive to improve my game. Initially, I viewed golf as more of a social activity, but my enjoyment of the sport has grown over time. The clinics, the instructors, and the foreign women’s league have all contributed to this. I’ve made many friends and had much more fun than I anticipated.

Brett Ironside 

We chose to become members of Buenaventura not only because the course surpasses others in the beach area but also because of our previous experiences. We were members of two other courses for over five years. It’s important to note this for context. In Canada, we’re accustomed to public courses with lower maintenance standards and private ones that are meticulously kept.

Buenaventura embodies the latter. The upkeep of the fairways, the quality of service, and a significant difference is the package they offer for foreigners. As members, our entire group of friends can join, which wasn’t possible in other clubs. Here, we’ve formed many friendships with Canadians and Americans, providing us with regular playing partners and camaraderie every week.

Jennifer Ironside

We’ve forged numerous friendships, and Buenaventura stands as the premier golf course in the beach area. The community continues to expand, with new members joining every day. It’s incredibly enjoyable, as there are frequent tournaments with enticing prizes, and the best part is that there’s always something happening here. This makes it a destination where you’re inclined to spend the entire day.


One of the many myths surrounding the origin of the word “Panama” suggests it came from the native peoples, translating to “abundance of fish and butterflies.”

This notion isn’t far-fetched. The isthmus of Panama boasts a rich diversity of fish species and features locations with optimal conditions, making it renowned worldwide as an ideal fishing destination.

The Buenaventura Marina stands out as an excellent starting point to explore the bounties of the Panamanian sea.

Let’s explore the best-known spots for indulging in this sport.

Pearl Islands

During the peak season from December to May, this archipelago comprising over 40 islands is teeming with species like red snapper, grouper, and amberjack. Pacheca Island and its neighboring islands are known for sightings of giant catfish, tuna, sailfish, and wahoo, among others. The shallow reefs of Las Perlas attract many species thriving in the Pacific waters of the Gulf of Panama.

Piñas Bay

It is one of the premier destinations for sport fishing globally, boasting over 200 world records. Piñas Bay is renowned for its black marlin fishing, with opportunities to catch wahoo, dorado, jack, and other game fish species. The peak fishing season typically runs from December to March.


This natural reserve ranks among Panama’s most remarkable destinations. UNESCO designated Coiba Island National Marine Park a wildlife refuge and offers plentiful sport fishing opportunities. Anglers can target black marlin, yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, Pacific sailfish, and dorado. While the peak season spans from December to April, excellent fishing can be enjoyed year-round.

Offshore waters teem with diverse species such as roosterfish, grouper, black tuna, swordfish, wahoo, and snapper. Inshore fishing presents opportunities to reel in blue trevally, saw mackerel, rainbow runners, jack crevalle, and more.

Gulf of Chiriqui

One of Panama’s best-kept secrets. Its waters boast some of the finest billfish opportunities. Specimens can weigh around 200 kilos, and it’s common to reel in sailfish and snappers weighing over 50 kilos.

Now, what types of fish inhabit Panama’s marine ecosystem? The abundance of fish in Panama is such that the country’s waters are a true paradise for those who enjoy this sport. Depending on the season and sea conditions, these are the most notable species found along its coasts.

Black Marlin

While blue marlin inhabits all warm seas, black marlin is strictly limited to the Pacific and Indian oceans. Unlike blue marlin, which rarely venture from the deep blue open ocean, blacks are known to prowl shallow shoals and nearshore waters.

Blue Marlin

Many anglers consider hooking and releasing a giant blue marlin the most significant challenge, thrill, and achievement of sport fishing. Blues are caught in oceans worldwide using live and dead baits and large trolled lures.

Pacific Sailfish

The sailfish inhabits the warm waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans. This fish grows considerably larger than its Atlantic counterpart, with individuals over 100 pounds being typical.

Yellowfin Tuna

Yellowfin tuna (and its close relative, the bigeye) are highly sought by sport anglers worldwide. Anglers often engage in fast-paced action, casting poppers at schools of 20-pound “footballs” or deploying kite baits to target the world’s most giant yellowfin, which can exceed 300 pounds and even reach over 400 pounds in the eastern Pacific waters off Panama.

Cubera Snapper

These snapper giants are all about raw power. Engaging with them requires significant stopping power; otherwise, anglers may find themselves battling the fish and the reef or risking a sudden shipwreck. Pacific Cubera, with a record weight of 78 pounds, 12 ounces, inhabit shallower reefs, often striking with explosive force at large poppers.


The striking image of an illuminated roosterfish with its distinctive high, comb-shaped dorsal fin slicing through the green coastal waters, warmed by the trail of live bait or popper, is a sight etched into the memory of every sport fishing enthusiast. Roosterfish are exclusive to the eastern Pacific, from Baja to northern South America.


Amberjack, sometimes referred to as Reef Donkeys, may not boast striking appearances, but their strength is undeniable. Known as “Pez Fuerte” in many parts of Latin America, which translates to strong fish, they inhabit tropical reefs in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.


Crafted for velocity, wahoos are often likened to torpedoes with fins. Some anglers consider wahoo the swiftest fish in the ocean; size-wise, they make a strong case. Their initial burst, particularly when hooked with a suitable tackle, is exhilarating.

Golden Mahi-Mahi

This fish reigns supreme in offshore fishing. It is an agile hunter, a spirited contender, and a tenacious, often acrobatic combatant. Despite its beauty, it tends to put up quite a resistance.

Mullet Snapper

The mullet snapper, known as “Pargo Lisa,” is an elongated species inhabiting the eastern Pacific waters from Baja to Peru. Unlike typical snappers, they dwell in midwater rocky zones at depths of up to 150 feet. Occasionally, they venture to the surface and can be targeted using poppers.

Almaco Jack

The Almaco Jack, a game fish from the Carangidae family, shares its family with Yellowtail and Amberjack. It feeds day and night on smaller fish, such as baitfish and small squid. Its meat, thick and dense akin to tuna, can be seamlessly transitioned to resemble albacore when prepared as sushi.

Finally, what’s the ideal time to plan your fishing trip? Here’s a month-by-month calendar detailing the most representative species you can expect to encounter.


Considered one of the most prolific months for fishing, January boasts 100-250-pound yellowfin tuna, 100+-pound sailfish, 50-60-pound dorado, and black and blue marlin.


January and February mark the “Panama summer,” offering similar fish to January with the addition of striped marlin found offshore.


March is one of the prime months for giant yellowfin tuna, along with prolific numbers of black marlin, blue marlin, and often striped marlin. Additionally, large roosterfish and cubera snappers are most abundant for those interested in coastal fishing during this time.


April marks a transition month, offering rich waters for various types of fishing. Coastal enthusiasts can target roosterfish, Cubera snapper, and other game species. Yellowfin tuna are also plentiful during this period.


Sailfish dominate the seas in May, drawn by increased southerly winds that bring abundant baitfish to the water. Successful fishing techniques include trolling live baits and using poppers or topwater plugs.


June heralds the beginning of the roosterfish season, with specimens often weighing over 70 pounds. Sailfish remain abundant alongside black marlin, blue marlin, and striped marlin.


July offers diverse fish species, making it one of the best months for varied catches. Black marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, and dorado abound. Anglers targeting large roosterfish and cubera snappers can find success from the shoreline.


August is a warm month, and black marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, and other billfish species are present. Given the warmth, it is advisable to take occasional dips in the water to stay cool and comfortable during fishing outings.


September is the prime month for wahoo fishing, with occasional light showers lasting less than an hour. Blue and black marlin remain plentiful in the waters during this time.


Despite occasional showers, October marks the peak of the “green season,” with the benefits of rainfall becoming evident. This month boasts large black and blue marlin populations, offering thrilling encounters for anglers.


As the rainy season typically draws to a close, November is one of the prime months for catching roosterfish and cubera snappers. Anglers can expect to encounter black and blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, and dorado weighing between 40 and 60 pounds.


December sees an abundance of various species, including black marlin, blue marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna, roosterfish, cubera snapper, and dorado, making it a fruitful month for anglers seeking diverse catches.

Do you want to live or invest in Panama?

Get in touch with us and obtain advice and support.

Latest articles


Todo esto hace de Buenaventura el destino perfecto


If you are interested to learn more about Fairways Panama. Contact an advisor now!


If you are interested to learn more about Fairways Panama. Contact an advisor now!