According to the Spanish Royal Academy the world “estero” signify: flat swamp land, impassable, usually filled with water from rain or close river or lake, with a lot of in aquatic plants. For surfers means more than all the good waves and a meeting point with other surfers from all over the world. Playa El Estero is located at the eastern end of Santa Catalina town at the end of dirt road.
This is the right beach, where beginners can practice on smaller, yet consistent waves and a sand beach, lessons and board rental are available from a local surf camp. But also offers powerful hollows for experienced surfers that break both left and right. The bottom is rocky and the volcanic rock can be tough on feet, heads and boards! The waves roll in year round and typically range 4 to 15 feet, with the largest between February and August when faces can push 20 to 25 feet.
The breakers are both left and right and the bottom is rocky. Usually the waves oscillate within 4 to 15 feet, larger waves can be found between February and August, when waves can pass from 20 to 25 feet.
The beach is quite flat and is about 1.5 kilometers long and its width is determined by the level of the tides. On the one side is limited by a river and the other side by a rocky reef. Right on the beach there is a camp that offers lodging in small cabins and also has a restaurant and camping area. From El Estero Beach you can walk to the Santa Catalina, the walk takes about 20 minutes.
Santa Catalina is a five to six hour drive from Panama City's. The first part is the 3 1/2 to 4 hour trip from Panama City to Santiago 252(km)) is a pretty straight forward drive down the Pan American Highway. The most difficult part of the trip is finding the turn for Soná. You can turn directly in the Santiago and try find the way throw the city but I thing that the better idea is continue about 7 km by Pan Amarican Highway and turn left to (La Piña, Los Peñones) and go towards Soná. The road to Soná is 2 lane and rougher than the Pan American Highway, but generally in good condition. Typically, it will take 30 to 45 minutes. As with any secondary road in Panama, watch for pedestrians, bicycles, livestock, wildlife and the unknown! It is a picturesque drive with rolling hills and farms.
Shortly before entering Soná there is an intersection with a Shell gas station on the corner and a large number of signs. A left turn here puts you on the road to Santa Catalina. This part of the trip offers views of a number of local villages where the residents live in thatch huts, ride horses, and work on the large “fincas” or agricultural units in the area. The road is in generally in good condition, but there are several places under construction. Anywhere along the way, the road could be lined with chickens, people, cattle, horses, or wildlife. It is a pretty drive. Drive slow enough to enjoy it! About half way to Santa Catalina, you will make a left turn at a well marked intersection. Straight would take you to Los Tigres. Plan on the Soná to Santa Catalina portion of the trip to take at least an hour.