|Santa Catalina is about an hour and a half drive South Southwest from Santiago. Whether you are coming from Panama City or David, you will travel through Santiago. Santa Catalina is a five to six hour drive from Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport and a four to five hour drive from David. The roads have recently been paved up to the edge of Santa Catalina, making 4 wheel drive no longer a requirement.If you are driving to Santa Catalina, the most difficult part is making the correct turns in Santiago. The guide books are inaccurate and signage is poor off of the Transamerica highway. For the best information available, see the Santa Catalina Beach website. It includes pictures of the signs and landmarks for the turns.Using public transportation, buses can be taken from Panama City or David to Santiago. In Santiago, change to the bus to SonÃ¡. In SonÃ¡, catch the Santa Catalina bus. Using public transportation is very safe and reliable. Buses can be taken from Panama City or David to Santiago. In Santiago, change to the bus to SonÃ¡. In SonÃ¡, catch the Santa Catalina bus or you can take a taxi from Sona for around $30.
Another option is to arrange for a driver from Panama City to Santa Catalina or from Santa Catalina back to Panama City.
Please also download and save our travel info sheet containing all the information you need to get yourself to Santa Catalina.
Getting Around Santa Catalina
Most visitors to Santa Catalina travel around town by foot. There are two primary roads in Santa Catalina. The main street which is the paved road that brings you to town and ends at Playa Santa Catalina, and an unpaved road that heads east to Playa El Estero. This road has several small branches that fork off and head toward the sea.
The whole area can be traversed by foot in 20 to 30 minutes. If you choose to drive, generally, 2 wheel drive is okay, unless you are going to venture further into the countryside, cross rivers, or drive on beaches. If you travel by vehicle you will make plenty of friends by picking up those who are on foot making their way to the beach!!!
Panama is safe In a Newsweek magazine article on tourism safety worldwide, Panama received the same tourism safety rating as the USA. Panama is one of the safest countries in Latin American for tourists and also for living. The Panama Canal along with Panama’s stable democratic government and Panama’s first-world infrastructure make it a desirable holiday destination. The Pan American Highway which spans the length of the country is well maintained and supports an excellent public transportation system. Panamanians generally embrace foreigners and are happy to share their local knowledge.