Santa Catalina & Pacific Beaches

surfing1Santa Catalina is one of the most popular pacific beach towns in Panama and offers some of the best surfing in the country. It is also a good jumping-off for trips to Coiba Natinal Park, which offers some of the best diving and marine life in Central America. Santa Catalina is not very developed but does have a few budget accommodation and food options.

Check out www.santacatalinabeach.com for more info on accommodations and things to do.

Getting to Santa Catalina: Buses depart from Albrook Bus Terminal in Panama City to Sona at 8:20am, 10:20am, 12:45pm, 2:20pm and 4:20pm or you can take a bus to Santiago (which departs every 20min) and then another bus to Sona. Be aware that the last bus departs Sona for Santa Catalina around 4pm, so if you are arriving after this time you may have to take a taxi.  It takes 5-7 hours to travel from Panama City to Santa Catalina.

Other Pacific Coast Beaches:

venao-surf
Playa Venao is located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, near the town of Pedasi, and offers one of the best untouched surf spots in the country. Playa Venao is about a 5-7 hour trip from Panama City, but offers an off the beaten track option for surfers and beach lovers. Isla Iguana, just off the coast of Venao, offers beautiful white sand beaches and abundant wild life.
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Isla Contadora and the Pearl Islands are located just off the Pacific Coast of Panama and are famous for the recent Survivor series that was filmed there. The main island, Isla Contadora, can be reached by ferry or plane from Panama City.  Most hotels are in the mid to high price range, but definitely are worth it if you are willing to splurge a little for a bit of island paradise.
santa-clara1
Santa Clara is a nice, white sand beach about 2 hours from Panama City. This is not a surfing beach, but is awesome for swimming and enjoying the sunshine. There are only a few options for places to stay, but you have your choice of camping on the beach, renting a cabin close to the water or renting a shared room a little bit up the hill from the beach.
lajas1
Las Lajas is a great stopping-off point between Panama City and David or Bocas del Toro, as it cuts the journey in half. There are a few different options for places to stay, and in the off season the beach is often deserted. Try Cabanas Las Lajas, which offers cabins for $15 on weekdays.  These cabins are a stone’s throw away from the waves. The beach is not the pretty white sand that some people seek, but the beach is huge, perfect for long walks. and the calm water is perfect for swimming.
Check out other Panama surf info