Literally at the end of the road, the tiny fishing village of Santa Catalina in the Veraguas Province of Panama sits near some of the best surfing spots in the country, and is the closest port to Isla de Coiba, Panama’s top diving and fishing destination.
A quiet fishing village in seclusion until discovered by surfers in the 1970s. Protecting their hidden world class surf, Santa Catalina was kept secret by the surfers for quite sometime. For years, only adventurous surfers visited Santa Catalina who made the long trip here on rough roads and slept in rustic rooms for the pleasure of riding La Punta, a right point break. The roads and accommodations have improved, while still keeping a rustic charm. For the moment, Santa Catalina remains a quiet beach town with little to offer other than ocean views through the palm fronds, friendly locals, cheap seafood, and amazing surf and diving. Surf Spots include Santa Catalina, Punta Brava, Punta Roca, La Puntica and El Estero.
Today, Santa Catalina offers a smattering of surf camps, low cost hotels and a few eating establishments. Still fairly secluded, the closest town with ATM, grocery, other basic services is Soná which is about an hour away. Visitors to Santa Catalina come for outdoor recreation and relaxation. While there are a number of gathering spots for evening dinners and socializing, Santa Catalina is not the all night party spot found in a lot of Central American surf destinations.
The attraction to Santa Catalina, Panama is its natural beauty and vast natural resources. With the Pacific Ocean roaring up on its beautiful black sand beaches (Playa Santa Catalina and Playa Estero), lush forest and friendly people, Santa Catalina is a great stop for travelers wanting to enjoy some of the best of Panama’s natural beauty and local flair on a minimal budget. Dozens of islands are scattered through out the ocean, just a short boat ride from Santa Catalina. Many of these islands offer relatively unexplored white sand beaches with surf breaks that equal and sometimes better the world renowned break at La Punta in Santa Catalina. Islands around Santa Catalina include Cebaco, Cativo, Octavia, Pelonas and Isla Coiba and Coiba National Park.
Hotels in Santa Catalina:
• Hotel Santa Catalina (Kenny’s Surf Camp)
• Hibiscus Garden Hotel in Lagartero Beach
• Sol y Mar Hotel
• Casa Dos Palmas Hostel
• On the Reef Hotel
• Casa Maya
• La Buena Vida Hotel
Tours in Santa Catalina, Coiba and Cebaco:
• Diving Courses in Santa Catalina and Coiba Island
• Diving in Isla Coiba National Park with Scuba Coiba
• Fishing or Pleasure Vacation Packages to Coiba and Cebaco Islands