We headed to El Tumbes bus station and got our ticket to Sona. It was $10 and supposedly we had to catch it at 830 in the morning in order to make it to Santa Catalina in one day.
The bus was completely full. I was lucky to get the wheel well seat directly below the blasting speaker, whereas others were fortunate enough to get the seats with AC leaking on their heads. They managed to rig something with their curtain to diverge the water which was entertaining to watch.
I had heard from several people that the busses crank the AC and are freezing; our bus started out comfortable then as the day carried on got uncomfortably hot as the AC began to fall behind the weather.
The ride to Sona was supposed to take 6 hours according to lonely planet but it only took us 3.5 even with the stops so we were confused when we arrived at our destination.
We were told the next bus wouldn’t be there until 130 and we had arrived at 12. Lonely planet said a taxi to Santa Catalina would cost $60 but we found a taxi that offered to bring us for $25 and I talked to another couple that said they paid $40 for a taxi.
The ride lasted about an hour and was equally cramped and uncomfortable. It was good having other travelers with us and it seemed that many of them were in the same situation in that they had no accommodation reservations. When I had checked on hostelworld the night before it appeared there were only 2 hostels and they were full but we figured there must be more.
One of the guys, Christopher, had a phone so called the place he intended to stay and confirmed they had availability. The name was Hibiscus garden and it was inland from Santa Catalina about 10kms. The road to Santa Catalina was very isolated. The hostel was no different.
They also had some closed rooms available but chose to stay here because, I mean, look at it it was awesome.
The surprised the place had hot water, (super shitty) WiFi, and some AC rooms.
Dinner there was excellent, best hostel food I’ve ever had. Apparently there is a well known German chef that chooses to work there for pennies just for an opportunity to live in this paradise. The food was about 3x what we normally pay for food here ($25?) But far less than you would expect to pay for it elsewhere in the world.
We had the woman at the hostel call in and reserve a diving trip to the nearby island of Coiba (world renowned diving location) as well as for a night to camp out on the island.