I have been to Panama twice now and visited Santa Catalina both times as I absolutely fell in love with all it has to offer. Between surfing for the advanced or beginners, snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, relaxing on the ocean, meeting great people,and eating great food. At Rancho estero you are overlooking the ocean at the perfect spot where a river tributary merges with the ocean. When the tide goes out you can walk forever or just across the way to another surf hotel. I felt like rancho estero is perfect for couples as you can have your own private thatched roof cabin. It's a little outside of town so having a car is nice but it's possible to walk as well. There is a good (yet very slow) restaurant next door Mama ines which also has internet for $1/hour. The bathrooms are shared but clean and you even get a warm shower. Last but not least, Zigor was amazing to us, he showed us to our room, gave a tour of the shared kitchen (stove, utensils, refrigerator, sink, etc), cracked open a coconut, and gave surf lessons (Estero beach is perfect for beginners). They also rent boards. The only negative I could say which was beyond the hotels control, is one morning someone from another hotel decided to drive onto the beach (which is public land in Panama) and blast music from the car at 5 AM. Despite that, I would stay here 100%. Truly astounding people and place.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Rancho Estero is located at the end of the road to Playa Estero and is on the bluff overlooking the beach and the surf. The view from this property is simply amazing. We have a series of small cabins that can accommodate 1 to 6 people. We offer free internet access and a common kitchen. There are plenty of hammocks, chaise lounges and decks to relax on. Several restaurants are located close by. The town and the surf break "La Punta" are in walking distance. Rancho Estero is a very popular choice because of its priceless views, unique location and friendly vibe. ... more less