I met Sebastian at the end of January while capturing the sunset on the rocky beach at the Hotel Santa Catalina.
At the time, I didn’t imagine that I’d still be here today.
That’s what happens: Santa Catalina draws many in with La Punta, its world-famous surf break.
Then it seduces with its stillness, silence, space, and slower pace of life.
Nothing to Do Here
Other than surfing, there’s not much to do here. This is a place to practice what my yoga teacher Brandi calls “the important task of doing nothing.”
(Seeing how I’m still writing and publishing daily, I clearly need more practice in this most important task.)
Shops are limited to a fruit stand, a couple of small beach shops, and two small “convenience” stores that have less in stock and smaller variety than a New York City bodega before a snowstorm. The closest ATM and hospital are in a town that is 60–90 minutes away.
There’s no “shopping scene” here, nothing to buy, no place to go to “run errands,” and no souveniers to take home, other than photographs of sunrises and sunsets and memories of conversations held in hammocks under the canopy of stars.
Ah, the stars. Let me tell you about the stars.
They have stars here.
Not the celebrity kind, but the originals — the ones in the sky.
I realize they have stars everywhere, but I’m from New York City, where the bright lights — a wondrous beauty in their own right — mask the natural beauty of the night sky.
Even in my sixth week here, I still find myself stopping in the middle of the dark winding road on my walk back from dinner and craning my neck to look up at the sky in awe. I do it so often that I may be developing the opposite of “text neck.”
I’ve witnessed many other visitors take the same position. Other than the surfer’s stance, this could be the most common body position in Santa Catalina.
The Slower Pace
Beyond the surfing and the stars, beyond the friendly hospitality of the locals — every restaurant feels like you’re eating in someone’s house, because you are — there’s something else about this place that I believe is the real draw.
As Sebastian writes, Santa Catalina is “a place where even the Wi-Fi takes things slow.”
From conversations with people I’ve met here, and with some from my life outside this place, I sense that this, more than anything else, is what we are most longing for right now.
I’ve shared with friends about this place, about how the wi-fi and cellular service go out without notice for unknown periods of time. The response is always the same:
That sounds nice.
So reluctant are we to pull our own plug that we secretly long for someone to pull it for us, to force the disconnection with the online and outside world so that we can connect within.
Spaciousness of Time
There’s a myth that busy entrepreneurs crave “more time,” but most people I meet acknowledge that “more time” would just bring more things to do. What I hear is a longing for space, for time to catch up and connect, with others and within ourselves.
Most often, what I hear is a craving for time to stop.
Santa Catalina is a place where the rhythm of the day is dictated by the rhythm of the tides. It’s a place that prioritizes stillness over busyness, where a day off is just that — a day to rest, not a day to run errands.
Santa Catalina offers spaciousness of time and place: an emptiness that is not loneliness, a stillness in which you can feel the pulse of your heart, echoing the rhythms of nature, and a silence in which you can hear your inner voice.
You can feel these rhythms at low tide, in the heat of the midday sun, in the waning light of sunset, under the canopy of stars in the darkness of night, and in dozens of moments throughout the day.
In Santa Catalina, time stops.