Santa Catalina Beach

The beach is located on the Chiriqui Gulf in the district of Soná in the province Veraguas, about 110 kilometers from the town Santiago de Veraguas. Santa Catalina is well known like one of the best surfing spot in Central America and is also famous for world class diving in the Coiba National Park with its clear waters and incredible rich sea life. The beach oneself is situated directly in the village Santa Catalina at the end of the paved road. This beautiful black sand beach has a part with the cliff and rocky ground, but has the major part has flat shallow sandy ground. Be prepare to walk a little if you want swim at the time of low tide. In front of the beach you can see the Santa Catalina island. If you are looking searching for quiet and private place, you can just walk little bit to the right, cross the river and enjoy the day in the shadow of the palm trees which are on the other side of the Santa Catalina River.

Surfing in Santa Catalina Panama is world class. There are powerful hollows that break both left and right. The bottom is rocky and the volcanic rock can be tough on feet, heads, knees, back, belly, your cool quicksilver dress and boards! The waves roll in year round and typically range 1 to 4 meters, with the largest between February and August when faces can push 5 – 6 meters. But there are some place where beginners can practice on smaller, yet consistent waves and a sand ground beach. There are also other break in the area, close enough to do not waste your time driving a long distance.

Tourist facilities
Directly on the beach is a restaurant and in the town there are other options where you can refresh. In the center on the corner is a small supermarket where you can find almost everything what you need and of course some bars where they serve the national cold beer. In the village and its surroundings there are several lodging options such as camping, cabins and hotels. General they offer basic simple accommodation, but there are rooms for all tastes – with air conditioning, hot water and cable TV or other ones just with fan and cold water only.

Santa Catalina is one of the main starts points to visit the islands of Coiba and Cébaco. In the village you can find several small company which provide boats trip to this island and around the area. If you want to learn to run the wave at one of the best beaches in the country you can rent the board a take a classes in a surf school . If you want to dive at Coiba island in the village you can find the Scuba Center Coiba, which organize the diving trip to the national park. Coiba National Park is one of the world’s best and most spectacular dive sites. Diving around Coiba Island in Panama is often described as a mixture between Galapagos and Cocos Islands where you can dive with incredible amounts of fish – including whale sharks, mantas, eagle rays and turtles. Around town there are many pristine beaches, offering excellent opportunities for swimming and snorkeling for non divers.

Como Llegar

To visit Santa Catalina you have to drive through Santiago (252 km). The 3 1/2 to 4 hour trip from Panama City to Santiago is a pretty straight forward drive down Highway 1, know as the Pan American Highway. The most difficult part of the trip is finding the turn for Soná. You can drive throw the center of Santiago, but I prefer continue about 6 kilometers more on the highway and after turn left to La Iguana (unfortunately there are no traffic sign, just crossroad) and at the next big cross road turn right (almost turn back) where a small sign points to Soná. The road to Soná (297 km) is 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 pretty 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. About half way to Santa Catalina, you will make a left turn at a well marked intersection close to the Los Tigres (347 km). From here it is only 18 km. To reach Santa Catalina by bus you have to go to the bus terminal at Albrook. Take a bus to Santiago at Veraguas Province. From Santiago change for the bus to Soná. There are three buses daily from Soná to Santa Catalina (05:15, 12:00 and 16:10) or take a taxi who the price is about $ 25.00 per trip.

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