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Oasis Surf Camp
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Reviews (128)
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All reviewsin townlocation is greatcouple nightsbottled waterbeach breakrelaxing placebeginnerswaveslessonsurfsurchargetidesparadiseporchbungalowpowerhuts
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Reviewed January 13, 2012

Getting to Santa Catalina is a little tough, 5 hours from Panama City. The first 2+ hours is on a nice portion of the Panamerican Highway, the last on a construction site (as of Jan 2012). This turns out to be a plus, keeping a barrier up for whiny tourists.

Santa Catalina is a tiny surf/watersports village with 1.5 stores, no pharmacy, several restaurants and places to stay.

Oasis is the only spot we saw which is actually on the beach, and you have to cross a river on foot or in a 4x4 to get to it. Its got ~10 bungalows under the trees on a long and wide beach break next to a small river that comes out of the jungle. The bungalows are simple, comfortable enough for 15-20 USD/person/night. Decent beds, ceiling fans, hot water, clean sheets. At high tide, you sleep 15-20m from the break, with a steady breeze and sound of the waves coming through the windows. They also have tents available with air mattresses and clean sheets.

The family that runs the place is nice and accommodating, as long as you understand that its a surf camp, not an Intercontinental. If you get snotty, they'll politely ignore you.

The food was surprisingly good, seafood and pasta, langustina and clam spaghetti (al dente) was very good and reasonably priced. Decent breakfast too.

Since the place is remote, expect them to not have everything you want all the time. In fact, in the village, they often have nothing at all - except eggs, beer and rum. Bring what you think you will need, including medications. They have trucks that come through 1-2 times a week with fruits and vegetables, make sure to get a supply if you see something you like. The closest real store is an hour away. Otherwise, go local and eat what's in the menu for 5-10 USD per meal.

BTW, the local Abuelo rum is highly recommended. Buy it at the liquor store/bar just off the main intersection. 10usd/liter there, 7usd in the city. The locals like to get smashed in the evening, so if you need to get something done, get it done before dark.

The surf was tiny, 1-3ft. But if you are there to surf, ask around for the good spots.

The atmosphere around the camp was a little lame, everybody was too worried about impressing each other on how cool they were, how YOU are the tourist and they are somebody else. Few hellos and smiles. Maybe we were unlucky.

We made our own party, enjoyed it thoroughly.

One other place worth checking out - Rancho Estero, a bit more comfort and a bit more adult. Amazing ocean view and great owners.

  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank archikyiv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 12, 2012

My girlfriend and I stayed at Oasis in early January for two nights. It is absolutely gorgeous there. surf breaks were quite small, but ideal for beginners. The owner was very friendly and accommodating (he drove us into town to meet the bus upon departure) and the Italian cuisine was delicious enough to drown out the whining child. The only draw back was the lack of drinking water, they had small water bottles for sale. They didn't have an eco-filter to purify the tap water, and no one in town sells water. Our second day there, the bottled water delivery arrived with larger bottles, but I prefer to make less waste and they should too if their going to operate a business in a remote setting. Travelers and hotel operators have a responsibility to be green-minded and limit their footprint even if the local population doesn't.

Room Tip: we opted for no AC and used the fan instead. It saved us $10 a night and we slept great.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank denis m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed January 9, 2012

Lost reservation, no water, no electricity, hot water burning skin from body. Restaurant had almost nothing on the menu. Allowed cars with 20 loud speakers to park next to cabanas for a few extra bucks - blasting til 4 AM. Way to expensive for the value. Felt like a hostel at $12 but priced at $55.

The Italian, the Bartoletti's I think, family running it was very rude and lazy. Happy to be out of there. Will not come back, EVER.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled solo
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Thank eddie45678
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed December 5, 2011

First of all, they were supposed to pick us up in the village santa catalina. No one came and so we walked for some time and it was easy to find. The only problem was that we had to cross a river and as it was high-tide it was almost impossible to get on the other side without having something wet.
Secondly, as we came there, there was only the mother of the hostel-owner which was an elderly lady, not too amused of being there alone with us.
The first night, we were the only guests, we ordered some food at the restaurant. Prices are quite high, and the quality of the food is ok but nothing extraordinary.

To the accomodations: Most of the cabanas are right at the beach, but the dorm is behind them and annoying to reach as it has no path and therefore we had to walk through the grass. The room was wet the whole time and the shower was not working properly (cold or burning hot, no option in between).

The italian family, who is running the hostel, are lazy and I saw a lot of strange scenes. (The young kid of them spends the whole day long in front of a tv in the middle of the restaurant. A dog which was bleeding in the restaurant and no one cared, until we asked kindly to remove the blood from the floor, but no one cared about the dog, etc.)

After 2 nights we changed to the Surfer's Points, which is right across the river and had the best 7 days in Santa Catalina.

Room Tip: Not in the dorms, the other rooms are supposed to look better.
  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled with friends
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Thank Daniela B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed September 28, 2011

I had a love/ehhh relationship with Oasis Surf Camp. The place is absolutely beautiful! The buildings are right on the beach with gorgeous ocean and palm tree views from the porches. Everything is very clean and well maintained, and it's obvious that the owners care a lot about the property. We had plenty of room in our bungalow and the air conditioning kept it cool enough at night. We ate all of our meals at the main building, and the food was the best we had during our week in Panama. The surf lessons offered were well done and well priced. And at the end of the day, when the surfers have all disappeared, the black sand beach with its tide pools and shallow river were a delight to walk along. The only drawback is that the camp seems very much the owners’ home. It’s as if you’re staying with a distant relative – they’re eating dinner with you, the kids are watching cartoons in the morning, family dog watches you come and go. And while some might think this is charming, for me personally it meant I couldn’t relax. I was too worried about being polite and grateful, making sure the room was spotless when we left, not complaining about our bungalow’s lack of porch furniture. I could practically hear my mom saying, “be on your best behavior!” But all in all, I would recommend it to anyone looking to stay in Santa Catalina. The location on the beach and the quality of the food are far above the other accommodations we saw in this small town.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank jackie s
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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