Kayaking to the Deserted Santa Catalina Island

Our first full day in Santa Catalina, (of Veraguas, Panama), we woke up and went directly to the beach to do yoga.  The beach was small and slanted (at least during high tide), so there wasn’t really a good spot for yoga.  There was a lot of natural debris in the sand and locals walking around doing errands.  It wasn’t a great spot for lounging.  So we decided to kayak to the deserted Santa Catalina island, which is close by and has a white sand beach. 

We rented 2 kayaks for the day from our hostel, Tiki Lodge, for $5 each.  The owner of the hostel loaded the boats into the back of his truck and drove us to the beach (it’s only a block away but would have been difficult to carry).  We placed our belongings in waterproof bags and tied them to the boat with rope. 

The island is easily visible from the mainland and it took about 30 minutes to paddle over. 

Upon beaching the boat, I noticed that the sand was covered in an absurd amount of hermit crabs.  They were everywhere.  I had to step carefully because the crabs were quite slow and didn’t seem to know to get out of the way of a human foot approaching from the sky.  They were attacking mussels that had washed to shore.  I left a piece of coconut on the sand and an hour later it was covered in crabs.

There were two other people on the island when we arrived: a Polish couple that was attempting to snorkel.  They soon realized there were no reefs near the island and headed back for the mainland.  For the rest of the afternoon, we had the whole island to ourselves.

We explored a shipwreck and the ruins of what may have been a restaurant/bar in the past.  I couldn’t find any information about these particular ruins, but would be interested to know if anyone can find any information! 

On the note of local ruins… We later walked through the remains of an old surf camp on the mainland, between Playa Estero and Playa Santa Catalina.  Sitting upon a cliff overlooking the ocean, this was a popular place in the 1970’s – until the ocean began to eat away at the cliffs and the buildings started to fall into the sea.  Because of this, the original owners have been unable to sell the land.  So there the ruins remain, haunting the shoreline and waiting to face a watery death.

There was talk of a hiking trail on the island. We kept an eye out and possibly found it, but would have needed machetes to hike since everything was quite overgrown. In addition to the many hermit crabs, we also saw Halloween crabs and giant mushrooms.

We stayed on Santa Catalina Island until early evening when storm clouds rolled in.  The paddle back to the mainland was extremely choppy and the current got pretty strong.  If I were to do it again, I would leave by 4 PM to avoid the storm.  But on the bright side, we got to see a rainbow!

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