A Day in the Life at Santa Catalina
When I arrive in Santa Catalina, the bus stops in the middle of town. At first glance, I know I have found paradise. While walking to my beach-front ranchos, I greet local school children and other tourists passing through the village. I pass families and friends bicycling and skateboarding around town. As I enter the gate to Rancho Estero and catch a glimpse of Playa Estero, I have reached Utopia.
Settling in, I visit the town beach to eat Italian food at Penguinos and watch the renowned sunset dip below the islands in the horizon. For late-night fun, I check out No Worries Bar to drink a beer and catch up on the latest news about waves. Here, I bump into tourists I met traveling in different parts of Panama and gain a chance to meet new tourists staying in Santa Catalina.
Early the next morning, I enjoy some yoga on the beach as I begin to watch the sunrise. The waves on Estero beach gently crash upon the shore beginning to cover more of the sand as the tide comes in. When I head back up to Rancho Estero, I meet some friends staying in the cabaņas next to me, to cook breakfast together. Santa Catalina provides the home for fresh papaya, mangos, bananas, coconuts, and pineapple for a delicious fruit salad breakfast.
Carrying my surfboard down the dirt road, I journey through the well-marked path to the point to catch some waves. Reaching the point, I see crystal blue waves towering over me at three meters. The stories of the Santa Catalina waves begin to live up to every word and more. Riding in the last wave of the day, I decide to go check out the town.
Walking down one of the only hills in the village, I run into people I met surfing the point. The streets are crowded with friendly familiar faces, looking for something to do. I spot a trendy artisan market and decide to take a peak. I find local made jewelry, coconut oil and other crafts, creating the perfect gifts to take home to my family. Later, I book my snorkel trip out to the pristine island of Coiba.
Catching an early start the next morning, I head to the Panaderia for a lovely breakfast, and a packed lunch for my snorkel day. I walk down the black paved road: my destination - the beach. I pass the homes of locals in the town and see children preparing for school. I catch a glimpse of the beach, where I will embark on my first snorkeling trip to Isla Coiba.
The sun shimmers off the crystal blue waters of Coiba. I step off the boat into the fresh ocean water. I take my first look at the world below and become breathless. White tip sharks are scattered below on the ocean floors. Schools of grouper and barracuda swim gently past the large sea turtles. I am in awe as I have discovered a whole new world. Moray eels lurch in the rock formations on the bottom of the ocean.
Just before heading back to the boat, I see a giant figure in my peripheral vision. A whale shark is feeding on the plankton. Soaring through the water, I am breathless. The spotted whale shark is eight meters long. It moves sophistically through the ocean.
Journeying back to Santa Catalina, we arrive just a few hours before sunset. The sunset is fading to a close just like my vacation in Santa Catalina. As my journey ends, I am sad to go but forever thankful for the experiences Santa Catalina gave me.
By S. Lewis. February 18, 2014