Santa Catalina, Time For Some Sun and Waves
After a month in the cold, humid and rainy highlands of Panama, we decided it was time for some sun and waves. We packed our mold infested clothes and equipment and drove out to Santa Catalina on the Pacific Coast. Santa Catalina is a well known surf spot and we heard it also has nice sand beaches to hang out on. After negotiating some dirt roads with no signs, and after stopping and asking directions a few times (if you do not like asking for directions, do not drive down here), we finally rolled into the town of Santa Catalina. There really isn’t a whole lot going on in “town” here besides a few restaurants, hotels, and dive and surf shops. Just as we decided to drive on the beach road in search of a potential campsite, the sky opened up and torrential downpour came down upon us. Although nice and warm, these are not the best conditions to set up camp, so instead of camping we found ourselves a “nice,” cheap hotel for the night in hopes of sunny skies the next day. The only “nice” thing about our hotel was that our room was on a second story and had an amazing view of the main surf break in the morning. The room however was pretty nasty. There was a resident bat, who did not really bother us much and he left the first night. There was mold on the pillows and distinct body shapes on the sheets! Yeah, I am sure they changed the sheets between guests -not! It is a good thing we have all our own bedding and pillows (not to mention cleaning equipment ).
According to locals and other travelers we talked to, the main break, which is only surf-able at high tide because of the rocks, is one of the best in someones book. The downfall of the break as we saw it was that it is a pretty small break and every morning there are 20 to 30 surfers out there waiting in line.
After a couple of nights in the hotel -after all the view is awesome, it was very cheap and we put a lot of work into cleaning the room- the weather finally decided to cooperate with us, so we found a great place to camp right on the beach at the Oasis Surf Camp. the nice thing about stayin a couple of days at “roach motel” was that it gave us a chance to scout the area for a good camping spot. There is one interesting drawback to the Oasis Surf Camp: you have to drive across a small river to get to it. The river is only a few inches deep at low tide, but impassable by vehicle at high tide, so you have to plan your entry/exit by the tide chart.
We set up camp right on the edge of a nice long beach and hung out and enjoyed for a few days. We had only planned to stay here for a day or two, but found ourselves here for 5 or 6. The beach was great for walking and soaking up the sun, and had a nice mellow break for beginner surfers. We also enjoyed some fantastic sunsets here, and had some delicious dinners some made by Luis and some at a restaurant called Los Pibes, owned by two Argentinean brothers. Argentineans really know how to grill!
It felt great to be living in the Landcruiser and our Campinglab tent again. We had forgotten how comfortable we have become with our living set up after staying at the house for so long. There is something that feels right about staying outdoors in a beautiful place, sleeping in our own comfortable bed (even if it is on the roof of our truck) and waking up in the morning to enjoy coffee cooked out of the back of our truck. Life couldn’t get much better than this
On a nature loving note, we totally fell for all the local crabs. Hermits, ghosts, land, red sands. We even saw a large hermit climbing a tree! We had never seen that before.
We definitely recommend a visit to the sleepy town of Santa Catalina (well, maybe not the town itself). If you are in the area you do not need to be a surfer to enjoy this areas beauty, there is good fishing and definitely good beaches.
A question for one of our readers (all three of you ). What tree do these seeds come from? Please! We know in Venezuela they call them “pepa de samuro,” but what tree are they from.
And as a parting shot: an artsy photo we both like