Once a small fishing village with relatively few visitors, Santa Catalina has become a world-renowned surfing destination for pros and beginners alike. Located on the Pacific coast of the Veraguas province, Santa Catalina is the place to be if you like to surf—or, if you’ve ever wanted to learn. Just keep in mind, the village is still minimally developed, with just a handful of restaurants and accommodations, as well as a grocery store and surfing schools.
Experienced surfers should head to the black sand beaches of Playa Santa Catalina, where you’ll find powerful waves that can surpass nine meters and feature great tubes. Punta Brava is another must-visit for experienced surfers, offering strong breaks and great tubes. Beginners, and those who want to give surfing a try, should head to Playa Estero, where the waves are smaller. You can also hit up one of the area’s surfing schools to rent boards or take lessons. Besides surfing, Santa Catalina is also the departure point for most tours to Coiba National Park.
Take the bus from Panama City to Soná. Once in Soná, switch buses or grab a taxi to Santa Catalina. All together, the trip will take between 5 and 6 hours.