Buenaventura Marina

Buenaventura Marina / Rio Hato / Cocle / Panama

This post is supposed to be a resource for sailors and other boaters that come to Buenaventura Marina or are thinking about it.

Buenaventura is one of the few marinas on the Pacific side of Panama. It is also the newest, only opened in 2018. Everything, from the dock, to the fasteners, water & power supply is new and of the highest quality.

The marina manager Emilio has worked in Shelter Bay marina before and is a hands-on guy who’s always around, super helpful, and friendly.

— This is a draft and there will be much more info —

Supplies and provisioning in Buenaventura Marina

There are plenty of supplies available. For quick shopping, you will find a Felipe Motta shop that mostly stocks drinks, but also convenience food of higher quality. There is also a Deli Gourmet store. Both are on the upper end of the price range. For bigger and more economical shopping, you will find a large Super99 Supermarket and a Novey hardware store about 2 km away from the resort.

There is an ATM inside the Buenaventura resort, in Puntarenas, next to Mansa restaurant.

Confirm with marina management if the fuel dock is operating. Otherwise, they will get fuel for you in jerry cans from the gas station.

Dining, eating out, and ordering food in Buenaventura Marina

There are a couple of restaurants to choose from and they even deliver to the marina if you send them a message. Mansa is a fusion type restaurant with Pizza, Pasta, and local and international dishes at reasonable prices. It used to be difficult to get there as a river would divide the marina area from Puntarenas (where Mansa and other places are). However, there is a bridge under construction that connects those parts and shortens the walk from 45 to about 10 minutes. This is great!

The entrance to Buenaventura Marina

The entrance to Buenaventura Marina is a greatly discussed topic. We were going on day trips to Farallon Island and Anton Beach a lot. So we always watched the tides very carefully. We found that we could leave and enter the marina about 2.5 hours before and after high tide, depending on the high water level. However, we are on a catamaran and only draft 1.4 meters (4.3 feet). Sometimes, there is a bit of swell entering the marina, but that was always easy going.

If you are on a cruising sailboat, the entrance should really not be a big issue for you. Just wait for high tide and you will be fine. If you have a very low draft, wait for a bigger tide. To be honest, you only get in once and get out another time and probably stay a couple of weeks or even months. The amenities of Buenaventura surely make up for a few hours of waiting before you enter or leave.

Beaches to walk around (and take your dog to business) in Buenaventura Marina

Buenaventura has a lot of open green spaces and a long, sandy beach. You can access the beach from the marina in a five minutes walk along the walls of the marina entrance. There are only a few other people on the beach, so your fluffy friend can roam freely.

If you go towards the inside of Buenaventura, there are plenty of open spaces. Beware that there are no sidewalks next to the roads. Sidewalks are just not a thing in Panama we realized as most people drive with their cars or golf-cart-sized 4x4s. However, there are some paths that are not so busy and you may go on a stroll exploring.

Be aware this is a resort place and you would be expected to have your dog on a leash and pick up the things he leaves behind.

Places to go with a sailboat from Buenaventura Marina

Sailing Catamaran Outventure (yes, that’s us :) ) offers catamaran sailing tours and yacht charters from Buenaventura Marina in Rio Hato in Panama.

Sailing Trip to Isla Farallon from Buenaventura Marina in Rio Hato in Panama

Sailing trip to Playa Anton Sandbars from Buenaventura Marina, next to the Hotel RIU Playa Blanca in Rio Hato in Panama

Sailing trip to Isla Iguana from Marina Buenaventura, next to Playa Blanca

Things to do with a sailboat from Buenaventura Marina

Snorkeling

Snorkeling in Isla Farallon

Fishing and Fishing Charters in Rio Hato, Buenaventura Marina

Fishing offshore, at the entrance to the marina and around the river mouths of Playa Anton

We hope this helps when you are approaching the sailboat anchorage in Santa Catalina Island in Panama.

Santa Catalina / Veraguas / Panama

Well. What is not to love about Santa Catalina? Santa Catalina is among Panama’s places to be. Not only does it have a laid-back surfer vibe, some chilled cafes, and restaurants. Exposed to the open Pacific Ocean in the Veraguas province, you will find very consistent surf and a variety of spots to choose from. Santa Catalina is the hub for trips to the Coiba National Park with incredible scuba diving, snorkeling or sailing. In the last couple of years, a lot of places opened and it seems Santa Catalina is getting some traction, however still far away from any tourist masses.

Anchorage in Santa Catalina

The anchorage next to Santa Catalina Island is great. The holding is good and even though there may be a six feet swell, it is still very much protected. It is getting rolly and around spring high tides and bigger swells, though, as the waves wrap around the island then.

Beaches to walk around (and take your dog to business)

We anchored very close to Santa Catalina Island and were actually able to swim to the beach (at low tide). Dinght, Kayak or SUP landing here is usually ok and only at high tide and big swell challenging.

Dinghy landing in Santa Catalina

If you want to go to town, it’s a different story. This may be rough when there’s a swell of more than three feet and you need to time it right. High tide is the roughest, but all low tide is also not recommended as it’s got rocky ground from a few hundred meters of the highest point of the beach. So you want to come in and out about 1-2 hours before or after low tide. Then you can ride up to the beach and beach your dinghy. If the swell is small, also the dinghy landing here is easy going.

Also be aware of the rocks about half way to the beach of the town. You can see them at low tide, but at high tide they are submerged. As a rule of thumb, you start at the eastern end of the beach of the island and head straigh to the middle of the beach of the town. On the way back, head to the eastern (left) end of the tree line of the island.

Be aware that, especially in rainy season, the weather may change very fast and you don’t realize while in Santa Catalina and only see the squall with pouring rain and strong wind when you get back to the beach. Of course if will be onshore and very choppy and you will have your hands full of supplies..

Supplies and provisioning in Santa Catalina

There are plenty of supplies available in town. First to mention is the amazing fruit store up the main road. You will find a big selection of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as Granola, Seeds, and different things that you would usually only get in Pricesmart or an organic store.

A real novelty is the ATM and the pharmacy on the junction of the main road. Please don’t count on the ATM working though (it didn’t when we were there). There are two more small supermarkets with different, basic supplies.

You can find fuel here if you can wait for a day or two. Bring your jerrycans to the first house on the right side when you come from the beach.

For bigger shopping, there is a bus that takes you to Santiago. There, you will find Cosco Style wholesale shop Pricesmart, all large supermarket chains like Rey and Super99 and also hardware stores like Doit Center and Novey. Also, an electronics shop Panafoto for Cameras like Gopros or even laptops, dehumidifiers, headphones, etc. It will take about 3 hours to go there and the bus leaves at 8 am.

Surfspots close to the sailboat anchorage in Santa Catalina / Panama

There are a couple of surf spots close to the anchorage in Santa Catalina in Panama.

La Punta – Surf spot in Santa Catalina

The best (for advanced surfers) and most famous surf spot is La Punta. From the anchorage at Santa Catalina Island, you can take your dinghy and anchor it right next to the wave in the channel. As the name suggests, La Punta is a Point Break. The main wave is breaking to the right. It is a very consistent wave that can get big in any swell bigger than 4 feet. Then it not only breaks at the point, but with a wide face. As with any point break, there is a channel that you can and should escape to in case you get caught in a set. And there are going to be some set that catch you in a surprise.

If you anchor your dinghy, make sure to have a good holding anchor, we have a Mantus stainless steel dinghy anchor and it has never let us down. Also, watch the waves for a couple of minutes before you decide on an anchor spot and anchor further out if you are going surfing on an outgoing tide.

There are so many things to do in Santa Catalina that we will continue this blog post at a later stage.

What’s there to do in Santa Catalina?

Sailing – you may go on sailing trips to Coiba or Cebaco Island.

Whale Watching – July to October is whale season and you can go on whale watching trips.

Surfing – For beginners and intermediate surfers that don’t feel ready for La Punta, there are plenty of other options, including beginner beach breaks with a surfschool

Diving – One of the main reasons for landbase folks to go to Santa Catalina is the incredible diving in Coiba National Park. You will find around a couple of dive centers in Coiba that take their divers to Coiba and the surrounding islands.

Snorkeling – if you’re not a diver, going on a snorkeling trip to Coiba is also an option and you will see a lot of underwater wildlife. Once we went and saw whalesharks when we were snorkeling!

Fishing – Fishing is amazing, there is Tuna, Dorado (Mahi Mahi), Bonitos, Jacks, Spanish Mackerel and much more to catch in the waters around Santa Catalina and Cebaco. Please be aware that Coiba is a National Park and fishing is not allowed there.

Spearfishing

Relaxing

Hiking

Sailing Outventure offers catamaran sailing trips and yacht charters, based in Buenaventura Marina / Rio Hato.

The following picture is a 360 degree panoramic, aerial picture taken with our drone. You can use your mouse to move around in the picture.

We hope this helps when you are approaching the sailboat anchorage in Santa Catalina Island in Panama.

Los Corales / Las Perlas / Panama – Anchorage

Los Corales in Las Perlas - Sailboat anchorage with clear water and nice snorkeling.
SV Outventure nicely anchored at Los Corales in Las Perlas / Panama.

What an amazing place.

We found Los Corales as a day anchorage, looking for a place with clear water and a nice beach. And wow, what a stunning place it is. The sandbars come out in low tide only, the lower the tide, the better. We anchored on the easterly side. Visibility was good and there was a lot of fish, also some snappers for the Sling that we later converted to Sushi. On a calm day, you may probably anchor here for the night, but it is very much exposed to all sides. There are a lot of protected anchorages around within a short sailing distance.

Sailing Outventure offers catamaran sailing trips and yacht charters, based in Buenaventura Marina / Rio Hato.

Isla Iguana – Pedasi – sailing catamaran trip & anchorage

Sailing Catamaran Outventure anchored next to Isla Iguana in Pedasi / Panama

Isla Iguana is an exceptional stop on the way around Punta Mala if you are going up north to Marina Buenaventura, Marina Vista Mar or Panama City.
We went here a couple of times, always when the northerlies were not blowing very hard. The anchorage is somewhat protected from southerly ground swell by the Azuero Peninsula and a bit by the Island itself from northerly windswell.
Anchorage is in deep water of minimum 12 m MLW. When it gets shallower, there is live coral and you don’t want to drop your anchor there.
We anchored on the southern end of the long beach.
Snorkeling is very good, the water is clear and you will find a lot of wildlife. Among others, saw Angel Fish, Turtles and even White Tip Sharks.

Before you go to Isla Iguana, register as a visitor a couple of days in advance (more info below). Upon arrival, head to the admin building on the northern end of the long beach where you check in. You will need the email confirmation and your IDs.
Then you can either relax at the beach or stroll around the island. Check the visitors center with some large information posters about the wildlife and sites to visit on Isla Iguana.
If you arrive early, you will see a lot of hermit crabs and red crabs. And, as the name of the island suggests, iguanas.
On the eastern side of Isla Iguana is a smaller beach where you can also snorkel, so don’t forget to bring your gear on the short walk.

To enter the island, you need a permit as Isla Iguana is a national park in Panama and protected area. You can easily obtain it by sending an email to MiAMBIENTE, reservaislaiguana@miambiente.gob.pa , with a minimum of 72 hours in advance.
Each person must write their name, ID, age, nationality and contact information. As soon as the information is received, the entity sends an email with the confirmation of the reservation.

Isla Iguana’s carrying capacity is 300 people per day. Of which, 100 are administered by the Ministry of Environment and the remaining 200 by the tourist services of El Arenal beach, main departure point to Isla Iguana.

The working hours at the checkpoint in Arenal Beach to Iguana Island are from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Sundays. – 12:00 p.m. on weekdays and from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on weekends.
However, tourists who make reservations are advised that if they arrive after 10:00 a.m., they will lose their space. This is due to the fact that regularly at that time the required load capacity of the boats has already been met.

The Isla Iguana Wildlife Refuge protects a 53-hectare island covered by dry tropical forests, surrounded by more than 40 hectares of coral reefs, formed by 17 species of reef-building corals.

Its waters are inhabited by more than 347 species of fish and are visited by humpback whales to give birth and teach their young to dive. The island’s coral reefs, along with the mangroves of the mainland coast and the coastal upwelling, support artisanal fisheries on which more than 200 families in the area depend. It is also an important seabird nesting site and you will see birds flying over the island all day.

The following picture is a 360 degree panoramic, aerial picture taken with our drone. You can use your mouse to move around in the picture.

We hope this helps when you are approaching the sailboat anchorage in Isla Iguana in Panama.

Isla del Canal de Afuera

You can clearly see the reef on this drone picture of the anchorage in Isla del Canal de Afuera in Coiba National Park in Panama.

The beach is visited be dive boats that make their lunch break here. So at the weekend, it gets busy for a few hours.

The Islas del Canal de Afuera belong to the Coiba National Park in Panama. As such, you will need to register with the Park Rangers on the main island and pay the park fees for your boat and crew, if you like to stay here.

The following picture is a 360 degree panoramic, aerial picture taken with our drone. You can use your mouse to move around in the picture. Click on the VR button to view in full screen.

We hope this helps when you are approaching the sailboat anchorage in Isla del Canal de Afuera in Coiba National Park in Panama.

Sailing Outventure offers catamaran sailing trips and yacht charters, based in Buenaventura Marina / Rio Hato.

Otoque Island north / Panama – Anchorage

Los Corales in Las Perlas - Sailboat anchorage with clear water and nice snorkeling.
SV Outventure nicely anchored at Los Corales in Las Perlas / Panama.

What an amazing place.

We found Los Corales as a day anchorage, looking for a place with clear water and a nice beach. And wow, what a stunning place it is. The sandbars come out in low tide only, the lower the tide, the better. We anchored on the easterly side. Visibility was good and there was a lot of fish, also some snappers for the Sling that we later converted to Sushi. On a calm day, you may probably anchor here for the night, but it is very much exposed to all sides.