THE GARDEN Imagine, a world filled with jungle, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, islands of story books, coconut filled palms, and trees of another lost time which stretch as far as the eye can see. Imagine a world in which many of the inhabitants transport themselves not by car, but by horse. A world in which the true power lies with the land and its animal occupants, and the ocean with its stunning beauty and ecosystem beneath the surface. A world in which there are more natural fruit trees per acre, than road signs, and more stars than the eyes can absorb. A world in which evenings are spent listening to the sounds of nature around you, and watching curiously as the jungle, mountains, and night sky light up with the magic of a million fireflies . . .
Imagine . . . Surfer's Garden The incredible community we reside in is located on the Pacific side of Panama, in a very tropical region, on the Veraguas Peninsula. Specifically, Surfer's Garden is located in Playa Reyna, which is the beachfront neighborhood within the district of Mariato, Veraguas. Created in 2001, the Mariato District, also known as Llano De Catival, totaling 1,408.9 km² comprises the west-facing coast of the Veraguas-Azuero Peninsula, fronting the Gulf Of Montijo. It shares the peninsula with Los Santos and Herrera Province, separated by a crest of low mountains, named the Macizo de Azuero. Mariato is thinly populated with only 5,847 residents (2010) dispersed over 149 settlements. The district seat, Llano del Catival, is the largest population center with 2,490 people, accounting for 43% of the entire district.
Our community is very safe. You can experience the best of Panama culture here, and it is well looked after by local residents and officials. In Mariato alone, you'll find a local police station with very friendly and helpful officers, numerous schools, a medical clinic, a walk-in bank with a fully functional ATM, multiple markets, as well as the Mayor's office. The Mayor of Mariato, Angel Batista, has just been re-elected for another term, and is very adamant about protecting his wonderful community and improving it through numerous community projects. Angel plans to enhance and preserve the area and its people not only through environmental projects but through policies, and developments in the future too. Many of which we at Surfer's Garden will be facilitating !
Environment Veraguas, and in particular the region in which we reside, is simply stunning, and quite tropical ! Mountains of jungle, a never-ending variety of trees, plants, and animal species, rivers, waterfalls, and more. This land offers tourists and visitors amazingly close contact with jaw-dropping nature. There are more than 200 varieties of orchids alone; more than 400 species of birds, in addition to a huge variety of mammals, reptiles, and insects, ranging from fireflies, to tropical frogs, monkeys, and jaguars! Mariato and our community is also backed by the Cerro Hoya National Park, which means this surplus of nature isn't going anywhere anytime soon, and hopefully never! Punta Mariato at the southern tip of the district also holds the title as the southernmost point of North America. As well, this portion of the Pacific coast and ocean, is extremely unique. While you may more often find coral reef, island atolls, and turquoise water filled with an ecosystem that could spin the head of any marine-biologist, on the Caribbean side of the Americas, 'The Garden' (our land and ocean environment) here on the Pacific is host to exactly that ! Just a short boat ride from our front door, and visible from our resort, lies Isla Cebaco, an incredible island surrounded by reefs, surf, and an incredible population of sea-life. If thats not enough , you'll be glad to hear that just another short boat-ride away, resides Coiba National Park and its island atolls, consisting of a huge number of islands both large and small, and some of the most mind-blowing white sand beaches, turquoise water, ocean life, and snorkeling/diving in the world. Coiba also holds the title of the largest coral reef on the entire Pacific coastline of the Americas. A very special place you certainly don't want to miss !
Culture & Customs It is said that long ago the region of Veraguas was explored by Christopher Columbus on his fourth voyage, during which he attempted to establish the first colony in the new Spanish mainland, but failed due to attacks of defense by the native indigenous tribes. Today, Veraguas has many groups of inhabitants, mainly of Spanish-Indian origin called campesinos, or country-people. The majority of Panamanians, including those residing here in the region of Veraguas, are Christian, most of which are Roman Catholics due to centuries of Spanish colonial influence.
The people of this community are extremely friendly, and hospitable. They pride themselves on hard work, living off of, and in harmony with, the land, as well as their cultural aspects such as music, art, dress, and religion. Don't be surprised if you find yourself waking up on Sunday to find that nobody is going to work, but instead they are dressed in their best traditional clothing and on their way to church.
Food The traditional food of these peoples, includes typical Latin American ingredients such as rice, corn, beans, platanos, vegetables, and plenty of fish/seafood and locally-raised chicken. Fruit also has a large presence here, as the natural environment here is host to hundreds of species of tree and fauna, many of which bare fruits of numerous variety, including: mango, papaya, banana, coconut, lime, and many more; some of which are unique to this area alone. We'll be sure to provide you with plenty of all the above, to keep you happy, full, and ready for your next surf !
Panama General The history of Panama goes far into the past. From the days of indigenous tribes, to the ages of the pirates, and to the separation from Colombia and the creation of the Panama Canal, this country has had quite the interesting and adventurous journey. These days, Panama can be seen through multiple lenses depending on where in the country you find yourself. Panama City, as the capitol, is host to one of the largest international business hubs in the world and is one of the most advanced cities in Latin America. However, venture away from the city, and you will find yourself in a number of different worlds, from the tropical caribbean, to the both temperate and tropical Pacific, into the mountains and forests of the interior, and down to the Darien Gap which separates Panama from Colombia, where the land is inhabited only by indigenous Panamanian tribes still living in bamboo huts and wearing loincloths.
The culture, customs, and language of Panama is predominantly Caribbean Spanish. Panama has a very diverse population which consists largely of mixed Spanish, Native American, and African descent/ancestry. Personally, our favorite aspect of the local Panamanian culture and people, is the indigenous tribe known as the Kuna Yala. The Kuna Yala originate from the tropical coastlines and islands of the Panamanian Caribbean, and to this day still maintain tribes and villages on these islands where they continue their traditional ways of life. However, some of these indigenous peoples have migrated to various parts of the country, especially Panama City, and it is not uncommon to cross paths with them while you explore the country. You will surely recognize them as they still wear their traditional tribal clothing, which radiates color and culture.
Immigrations to Panama are represented by ethnic groups in the 19th and 20th centuries: British and Irish, Dutch, French, U.S. Americans and West Indies/Caribbean (esp. Afro Caribbean) nationalities, in which thousands of Barbadian and Jamaican workers played a role in the construction of the Panama Canal. Also important was the immigration of Arabs and Asians, in particular the Chinese who can be found doing business in Panama City, or operating small businesses and markets throughout the country.
Throughout the country of Panama, including the capitol city, you can still find ruins, remains, and intact buildings born in a different Panama of long ago.
A woman of the Kuna Yala tribe portraying perfectly the beauty and magic of these ancient peoples of Panama.
Another lost cove amongst the mountains, and jungle. Just one of many found along the coastline here.
The stunning land and ocean-scape you will come to know at Surfer's Garden, found amongst the atolls of our coastline.
The red circle shows the coastline and area in which we are located. The island just offshore of the mainland is Cebaco Island, which contains numerous snorkel and dive locations, incredible fishing, and some world-class surf.
El alcalde, the mayor, of the Mariato District: Angel Batista, with the quiet pueblo of Mariato in the background.
A sight quite common in this magical place; horses roaming free, clear streams, and an environment as green and lush as any...
One of the smallest, yet most beautiful islands, found hidden amongst the many others in the island atolls of Coiba.
An elderly campesino in traditional clothing, amongst his native and beautiful environment.
A Panamanian man wearing typical dress and hat, plays the folklore violin.
A common dinner dish here in coastal Panama: Fresh fish off the grill, rice and beans, salad, and lime.
Don't forget an ice cold beer!
It wasn't so long ago that the lands and oceans of Panama were navigated by Pirates of the fairy tales we share today.
La cuidad/the city, of Panama which acts as the country's capitol, has seen much change over the centuries. Once part of an ancient world, this city was inhabited by indigenous tribes before it was even a city, merely a jungle bordered by the sea. Since then it has been colonized by the Spaniards, attacked by pirates, including Captain Morgan (yes, THE Captain Morgan), and now in modern day has become one of the largest international business capitols of the world, and one of the most advanced cities in all of Latin America.
Surfer's Garden ® - Panama is a sustainable surf lodge, owned and operated by surfers/travelers just like you. With a focus on sustainable tourism, we dedicate ourselves to offering the best Panama surf tours / surf trips, as well as an array of other activities including but not limited to hiking, fishing, and snorkeling/diving. We will make sure you have an unforgettable experience here on the stunning
Pacific coast of Panama !