Santa Catalina, hidden surfer gem at the Pacific

Santa Catalina is a dreamy village at the Pacific of Panama. It is mainly popular as a surfer village with a great beach and a beach where you can relax without the big waves, protected by a small island. It also is the hub to Coiba Island, something untouched like the Galapagos. Trips there are most expensive and I chose not to go, this is something for the future ūüôā

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After some really good sleep we start the day with our standard breakfast. White bread with green pepper, tomato, cheese and thunfish.  First of all we visit Surf and Shake, a shop for nice fruit shakes and everything connected with surfing, run by a girl from Munich. She tells us to attend the second beach for surfing, not the first one, protected by an island, the one we visited last night after we arrived. Santa Catalina is small and we are looking for another hostel which is closer to the big surfer beach.

Stefan and me enjoy a little chillout after the tough ride the day before and after some coffee Columbiano and our custom thunfish sandwiches.
The Surf and Shake of Santa Catalina
The beauty of the hibiscus is everywhere and beautiful insects and colibri swirl around it.
Stefan and Anne in Santa Catalina at our morning stroll to check out where to stay.
Most beautiful butterflies swirl around everywhere in Latin America. This is a big swallowtail.
A gas station in Santa Catalina, we would have been lucky and could probably have gotten gas over there…

We find a place called Mama Inne’s and move there. It has a great garden and direct access to the beach.

Mama Inne’s in Santa Catalina, a nice terrace but the dorm was not the best you would expect for the price paid. Take the apartment upstairs, you shall be good!
Hola, Hooola! A smart green parrot who always stopps talking when you want to film it… ūüėÄ

I rent a 7’7″ surfboard at a place called Rollo’s which is much smaller than my last ones in Florida but it is still the biggest I can find. The surf is gigantic for my current skill, the waves further offshore are probably 5 – 6 m high and the ones which hit shore are still 2,5 to 3 m. It costs lots of power to get outta there and surf back in but it works very well to my surprise so I spend several hours surfing, observe skilled surfers and try to do the same to handle the massive force of the incoming waves.¬†In my breaks I chill and chat with Anne and Stefan. It’s just relaxed and awesome – for the first time I miss that I don’t have a GoPro! The whole day is so relaxed and it flies by in a second.

At night we try to find something to eat which is quite challenging. We leave one restaurant since we get ignored for 30 min, leave another one where nobody shows up for 15 min and¬†get back to our hostel to eat… It’s crowded with visitors having dinner and we wait another good hour until we finally get our food. This is probably part of being here, to adjust to the time you need for everything? The food is not very good and the room is really hot.¬† The bedding smells of the many people who slept there as well and the night is a disaster,¬†with bedbugs in Stefan’s bed and very few sleep.

I flee from the bed at something around 6 am to take some photos and spend the time outside. After a little breakfast we catch in the little shop back in the village I go to surf. Today the surf is even more aggressive than the day before. I get to know Miri a girl from Munich and surf a bit with her. Later Laura joins our little chat. She is¬†just 19 years old,¬†from Berlin and travels alone and for a long time. She is half Venezuelan and tells us about her experience there, sounds absolutely great and totally in contrast to all the news about the riots…

At lunchtime we leave Santa Catalina since Stefan and me want to be in Panama City at around 6:30 pm to book the trip to San Blas¬†which you have to do the night before the trip until 7 pm. In Santiago we drop off Anne who wants to continue to Costa Rica alone. It’s a lively but ugly town and going around there with the car is really difficult, everybody shouts and honks at us. We are glad when we are back on the Panamericana on our way to Panama City. The ride takes forever although I push the gas quite strong in the frame of opportunities – we don’t want to be stopped again. Short before we reach the city¬†we miss an exit and have to pass downtown to¬†reach Casco Viejo and the hostel. This is my worst city driving¬†experience so far, speeding through traffic stuffed downtown, maneuvering around standing cars and walking people. We make it to lunas castle at 6:55 pm, basically in the last minutes before closure of the lists, and are the last ones for tomorrow’s trip to San Blas, what a¬†relief!

We need to get rid of the car and while we try to find a gas station the police stops us again. A fiendish cop shouts at me in Spanish and I reply about 3 times with ‘No hablo Espanol!’ He doesn’t want to believe me and accuses me that I would have taken drugs. Stefan talks to another cop and tells him that we have to return the car quickly. It’s already 8:40 pm, we haven’t filled up the gas yet and it’s still some way to the rental station that closes at 9 pm… After a full inspection of the car and of us the cop let’s us go, phew. 5 min before closure we finally turn in the car and are somehow totally relieved. Back at the hostel we have way of too much Rum with Anika, a nice girl who lives in¬†Z√ľrich and Jonas from Hamburg. I can’t sleep that night, it’s hot and loud in the dorm and the guys under my bunkbed have sex and it feels like an earthquake. I decide to go to the hostels living room and chill the rest of the night there. It’s way more comfortable and relaxed and early in the morning a trip into Paradise waits for us…

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