Santa Catalina is a small international fishing and tourist town that is home of the best waves in Panama and the closest launching point to Coiba National Park.
Located on the Pacific Coast in the center of the country, Santa Catalina was founded in 1918. With a few families, the small community was able to live off the land through primarily the abundant fishing. The town was, for the most part isolated without roads until the 70's. During the earlier years of the 1970's, Santa Catalina was 'discovered' by Panamanian surfers. The waves are known not only for the consistency, but also their quality and raw power with a break that averages 10 to 20 feet. The trickle of surfers made the difficult journey winching their trucks and shoveling their way to make weekend surf camps.
There are now a wide variety of international residents living in Santa Catalina that can be felt at the different restaurants and boutique hotels. Tourism for surfing, diving and sport fishing are now on the rise. Although still remote, Santa Catalina is a destination point for many active adventurers that want to experience the incredible variety that Panama has to offer. With three dive shops, over a dozen restaurants and hotels, various options for fishing expeditions and tours to Coiba, Santa Catalina is the premiere destination for central Panama.
Surfing in Santa Catalina - Veraguas
Santa Catalina has some of the best surf in Central America. The four main breaks around town and the variety of the surrounding island waves make for a surfing odyssey.
La Punta (The Point) is an advanced right and left break with a sharp rock bottom. With incredible tubes, long rides and lots of power it is surfed from medium to high tide. The surf reaches heights of 25 feet and rarely drops below 5 feet. This consistent break is rated as one of the world's top 20 for its rights.
Estero Beach (Estuary Beach) Break is a long sandy beach located at the northern end of town. It has lefts and rights over a sand bottom that works well for both experienced surfers and beginners.
Punta Brava (Angry Point) is a point break located north of the Estero Beach Break. It breaks at low tide over sharp rock bottom, and has lefts and rights, but the lefts are best. It is very powerful and has a great tube section.
Punta Roca (Rock Point) is a point break on the south side of Santa Catalina. It is a left point break surfed at low tide over a rock bottom ledge, with short rides, but big hollow tubes.
Several islands at Coiba and the closer Cebaco Island both have world-class waves with white sand beaches.
Home to several competitions each year, Santa Catalina is a prime destination for surfers from around the world. Lago Bay is just 10 minutes away from the waves.