The surf world chased early January swells in the Caribbean, Pat Schmidt included.     Photo: Ryan Struck

Don't Ignore the Caribbean Swell

Bocas del Toro, Panama

A big swell popped up on the Caribbean radar. We booked last minute tickets to score what was shaping up to be one of the better swells in awhile. The surf world was on point and the likes of Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia and Greg Long could all be seen surfing around town. Pictured is Pat Schmidt from New Jersey. We posted up in Bocas del Toro and worked on making a few good images. This particular evening was during the tail end of the swell. I set up on the inside with a fisheye lens in the waterhousing, right where the waves hit the reef. Our goal: link up on an air section as close as possible. This photo is a bit pulled back but I love how it shows Pat's frame (6' 4") set against the jungle background. Kid rips.
The Caribbean is definitely a place known for big waves, however, if you are looking for a Jaws or a Mavericks you're outta luck. Puerto Rico usually garners most of the attention in the Caribe with impressive breaks such as Tres Palmas and a few other dredging waves I'd rather not name. Notoriously fickle and famously picturesque, there are plenty of little nooks around the region that produce heavy water. Panama has been on the rise as a popular surf destination, and this last swell produced a flurry of media attention. This big swell popped up on the radar and we all booked last minute tickets to time the swell just right. Last minute decisions proved the right call.

While the Caribbean has no shortage of rideable waves (and impressive breaks such as Tres Palmas), it isn't known for monster waves. 

So when a big swell popped up on the Caribbean radar near Panama earlier this month, we booked last-minute tickets to score what was shaping up to be one of the better swells in a long time. The surfing world descended on the isthmus, including Kelly Slater, Sunny Garcia, and Greg Long.

Pat Schmidt and I set up shop in Bocas del Toro and worked on capturing a few good images. This particular evening happened during the tail end of the swell when I was set up on the inside of the wave with a fisheye lens where the waves hit the reef. 

  Photo: Ryan Struck

TOOLS: Canon 70D, 10-17mm, 1/50 second, f/8, ISO 100

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