Surfing in Santa Catalina

by Carina Forster – Intern from Austria

The laid-back town of Santa Catalina hosts a charming mix of international surfers next to locals who are still catching lobsters with their bare hands.

While more experienced surfers test their limits in the world-class waves at a spot called the Point, the smaller but still quite powerful waves at close-by Playa Estero are perfectly suitable for beginners like me.

After making my way through the first set of breaks, the first thing I instantly did as I was surfing in Santa Catalina for the first time was holding on for a minute to admire the wild beauty of widely-stretched Playa Estero.

However, there is not a lot of time to enjoy this view, as waves are constantly rolling in, forcing every single part of your body and mind to concentrate on this very moment. At some point you see the perfect one, which is going to be your wave, and you start paddling, going faster and faster, giving all your strength until you feel the ocean taking you with it. You stand up, riding the wave, forming a part of this incredible force of nature. The pure feeling of happiness makes you forget everything else, it makes you swim out over and over again, until you reach your physical limits.

And there is nothing more pleasureful after an exhausting day of surfing than having some fresh fish for dinner while enjoying the sunset on abandoned Playa Estero.

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Learn to Surf in Panama! (Beginner and intermediate levels)

Surfers represent a diverse culture based on riding the waves. Some people practice surfing as a recreational activity while others make it the central focus of their lives.  For those who currently surf, or wish to learn to surf, Panama offers to the surfing enthusiast two oceans from which to choose, the Atlantic and Pacific. This allows locals and visitors to take advantage of currently weather and wave conditions, not to mention that some of the most popular surf spots are within an hour or two from the cosmopolitan Panama City.

Day 1 – Welcome to Panama!

Today at the appropriate time an EcoCircuitos guide will be meet you at the Tocumen International Airport to assist and transfer you to your hotel located in Panama City. You will also receive an EcoCircuitos information kit. Once you arrive to your hotel, please check. Your transfer will take 25-30 minutes approximately.

Day 2 – Surfing the Pacific

After breakfast you will be transferred to El Palmar Beach located an hour and 15 minutes away from Panama City in San Carlos, Panama. It is one of the most renowned surf spots on the Pacific Coast of Panama and features waves ideal for both beginners and advanced surfers. The lessons are designed to teach you the fundamentals of surfing. Whether you have never surfed before or tried a couple times, professional instructors will teach you the secrets to speedy progress while having lots of fun.   This course starts with on the beach instruction. Then you will hit the water with an instructor, who will guide you through the different techniques to help you catch and ride waves on your own. Surfboards are included and we have special boards for beginners. Lodging will be in a hotel nearby, (B,L)

 Day 3 – Surfing the Pacific Part 2

After breakfast you will be heading to one of the several surf spots of Rio Mar or another nearby surfing spot to continue with your surfing lessons. Rio Mar suits beginners and surfers of all levels. There are consistent beach breaks – lefts and rights, and a world class right point break. Other breaks close are within 15 minute driving distance. Transfers to other surf spots are available upon request. At the appropriate time in the afternoon, you will be transferred to your hotel in Panama City. Hotel in the City, (B,L)

 Day 4 – Caribbean Coast of Bocas del Toro Archipelago

Early in the morning you will be transferred to Albrook domestic airport for an one-hour flight to the Bocas del Toro Archipelago located in the Caribbean of West Panama near the border of Costa Rica and has become an outdoor lover’s paradise. Surfing in Bocas Del Toro, is different from surfing in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua or other places in Central America. The surf here is island/reef surf, similar to what a surfer might find in the South Pacific or Indian Ocean. Upon your arrival, you will be pick up by our representative and transferred to you hotel. After lunch in the afternoon, you will have a yoga class with a certified instructor to get ready for your upcoming surfing adventures. After yoga you can organize a tour or activity to get to know the Bocas area. Depending on the time we may be able to sneak in a quick visit to a nearby beach. Hotel in the area, (B,L).

Day 5 & 6 – Bocas del Toro Archipelago

After breakfast you will meet your surf instructor that will give you a theory class about surfing Bocas del Toro. The instructor will explain to you all different wave details including where the peak and channel are. According to your level, stance and personal preference the instructor will select the most suitable spot for your session. All sessions include theory class, bilingual certified teacher, surfboard, rash guard and transport to and from the break. Hotel in the area, (B,L).

Day 7 – Return to Panama City-Full Day City Tour

In the morning you will be transferred to the Bocas local airport for your flight back to Panama City. Upon arrival an EcoCircuitos representative will take you on a tour to visit the ruins of Old Panama and continue to Casco Antiguo (the old city compound), which dates from the late 1600’s.
A bilingual historical guide will describe the events in history leading up to the movement of the capital city founded by Pedrarias to its present location. Casco Antiguo is home to monuments of Ferdinand de Lesseps and other important historical Frenchmen that attempted to construct a canal through Panama. The full day tour continues with a visit to the Miraflores Locks at the Panama Canal where large ships can be seen transiting the Canal.
Enjoy a presentation by the Panama Canal Authority about the history of the Panama Canal and marvel at the workings of this feat of human engineering. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant. The tour will continue to the Panama Canal area, including the town of Balboa, formerly part of the Panama Canal Zone. In the late afternoon you will return to your hotel in Panama City. Hotel in the City,(B,L).

Day 8 – Departure

At the appropriate time, you will be transferred to the International Tocumen Airport for your departure. (B)