Santa Catalina is best known as a place for surfing, diving and fishing. Most visitors take advantage of its proximity to the National Marine Park of Coiba Island, named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005, encompassing the largest live reef on the Western coastline of the American Continent.
Santa Catalina offers some of the best surfing spots in Panama, and it is the closest access point to Coiba Island, offering visitors world class diving.
Coiba Island is among the top dive spots on earth for the serious scuba diver, but also for average people who like to just pass the day sight seeing nature, snorkeling, whale and dolphin watching, bird watching, trail hiking or just beach lounging.
Santa Catalina’s beautiful beaches, lush forests and friendly people make it a great stop for travelers who want to enjoy and experience one of Panama’s best beach and island destinations while being able to travel on a minimal budget.
Hotels in Santa Catalina are limited to only 20 rooms, resulting in a small group of family owned and operated hostels, B&B’s, and boutique hotels, each offering their own individual touch and charm, with a very personalized service.
Now listed as one of Panama´s Top traveler destinations tourism is slowly changing this sleepy fishing village. Newly paved roads offer safe and fast access from the Interamerican Highway. An increasing number of comfortable, air conditioned accommodations with private hot water bathrooms, as well as backpacker hostels and surf camps have cropped up. Along with a number of restaurants with national and international cuisine that will appeal to almost everyone and invite you to stay and relax a few days. Still, everything is small and very authentic and has the personal fingerprint of the owner. There are no hotels with more than 20 rooms, nor buildings higher than 3 floors or international franchise businesses.
Local fishing families are living together with foreign business owners in the village and everyone shares the same sentiment that Catalina should remain a low impact tourist destination which provides sustainable growth for the collective benefit without eliminating the authenticy of Santa Catalina.