After I had spent some time in Panama City and the San Blas Islands, I decided to travel to Santa Catalina. And if you have the time, also make sure to include Santa Catalina in your Panama Itinerary.
It is a beautiful small town and also super safe for solo female travellers in Panama.
How to get to Santa Catalina
You can easily reach Santa Catalina by taking public transportation from Panama City. You can catch a bus from the Albrook Bus Terminal to Soná and then from Soná you take another bus directly to Santa Catalina.
It will take you around 5 hours to get to Soná and busses depart around five times a day. Just ask for Santa Catalina at the bus terminal and the bus drivers will already know which bus you have to take you and guide you to the right bus terminal.
Also in Soná they already knew where me and the other backpackers where going and the next bus/van was already waiting. It took around another hour to get from Soná to Santa Catalina. However, make sure to arrive in Soná before 4pm as the last bus will depart around that time.
What to do in Santa Catalina?
Why go to Santa Catalina in the first place? A lot of people just skip it and travel straight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro, but why? Such a shame if you ask me, there are so many lovely places to see between these two destinations and basically it’s like missing out on the whole country.
I’d like to think most people come to Santa Catalina to surf of just enjoy some time by the beach. Santa Catalina is known for surfing and they also host surf competitions in the summer months. There are a lot of different beaches, for both pro’s and beginners and boards can be rented at hostels or the resort down the beach.
There are not a lot of people, not a lot of hostels but Santa Catalina was still one of my favourite destinations of my trip. It is a great place to relax, especially after doing lots of sightseeing in Panama City.
There are also possibilities to dive or snorkel or visit Coiba National Park, which I heard is amazing. Other than that, Santa Catalina probably isn’t a place to spend an eternity but I’ve had two lovely days, met some nice people and I can not recommend highly enough to spend some time in this small little paradise.