Boasting world-class surf and beautiful beaches, SANTA CATALINA is considered by many to have the most impressive waves in Panama. Catalina’s popularity has skyrocketed in the last decade, through surf tourism and as the jumping-off point for Isla Coiba, which offers similarly world-class diving, but the distance from major cities and airports has left this small fishing village fairly well preserved.

The village and most of its businesses – many owned by expats – are based around the main street, the road from Soná, which ends where the concrete meets Santa Catalina beach. It is an unimpressive pebble-strewn strip, where the fishermen pull up their boats and unload their catch, and where boats leave for Coiba. Most of the accommodation and restaurants are located off what is often called the beach road, which deviates left at the public phone box, ending 2km later in the swath of sand that is Playa del Estero. This is a far nicer beach, where most of the surf classes take place. If you can’t afford to go to Coiba, you’ll find plenty of decent snorkelling and nice white sands at the nearby islands of Santa Catalina and Cébaco.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Panama features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

16 pictures that show the colours of Panama

After a recent trip to Central America, travel photographer Nori Jemil shares some of her best pictures of Panama.  The geographically strategic isthmus of …

30 Dec 2015 • Nori Jemil insert_drive_file Article
10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

10 things you didn't know you could do in Panama

There’s a whole lot more to Panama than its famous canal. Hiking, rafting, surfing and diving are just a few of the excellent adventure activities on offer, a…

08 Sep 2015 • Megan Eileen McDonough insert_drive_file Article
A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

A little piece of paradise: visiting Panama’s San Blas Islands

Let’s clear one thing up straight away: getting to the San Blas islands is not easy, whichever way you’re coming from. And that’s quite deliberate. The…

23 Oct 2014 • James Rice insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs