There is a timeless mystique to that notion of a tropical island resort that captivates the vacationer to no end. This resort could be anywhere in the world – the Caribbean islands off Panama in Central America or those innumerable tropical archipelagos that dot the South Asian seas. There is no debating that any island that skirts the equator- anywhere in the world- is going to have that magic concoction of swaying palm fronds, sandy beaches, azure waters and that year round 80 degree + weather that is so compelling to those from more northern climes (particularly in those long winter months). Bastimentos Island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago in the Caribbean waters off Panama is home to a resort that is quickly becoming a “must” destination for island seekers the world over. An island resort close (but not too close) to city services, five achingly beautiful sandy beaches within walking distance and a national marine park with pristine coral reefs and finally those impossible to describe aquamarine waters of the Caribbean as a backdrop. Sounds like an Caribbean island beach resort that could be better described as an island paradise resort.
This is indeed an island paradise resort that offers a decidedly different twist than the traditional hotels with a more manicured and manufactured island resort experience. It is possible to enjoy luxury in a private resort environment that accentuates the word adventure (stay in Casa Mukul and enjoy scenic views and private pool). This notion of adventure was downplayed among traditional island resorts in years past as these prototypical “Hilton island resorts” focused on traditional amenities like golf courses, luxury spas, wallet busting meals in fancy island resort restaurants. The Great Recession has upended demand for some of these offerings and to be quite frank, consumer tastes are changing. Vacationers still want the resort experience, but an experienced tempered with access to more natural pursuits imbued with local culture and flavor. A more authentic vacation “experience” can be had and according to Island Living magazine, this is the market that is growing the fastest. The Red Frog Beach is geared towards those that are seeking out this more authentic island experience. With local villages integrated into the resort (lot’s of indigenous Ngobe Indian children showcasing those beautiful bright red frogs) and an activity center which encourages non motorized water activities the focus is on meeting the local community and getting into these crystal blue waters to experience the beauty of this abundant natural world. That most of these activities can be done on or near a beach is with the rainforest as a backdrop is the real clincher.
Of course a true “apples to apples” comparison requires taking a closer look at the island resorts that skirt the equator in all sorts of exotic locales around the world: there are Fiji island resorts, Bandos island resorts, Perhentian island resorts, Maldive island resorts, Sun Island resorts, Denerau island resorts, Redang Island resorts and many, many more. Many of these island resorts exist in the South Asian seas and cater to visitors from mainland China, Japan and Australia, New Zealand. For those in the Northern hemisphere, it just takes too long to get there. And once there, plan on a couple of days orienting oneself to the new time zones. By the time you are acclimated for a 10 day trip it is often time to pack up and leave. This is particularly the case for Americans and to a lesser degree Europeans (who might have a tad more vacation time). In any case, the appeal of “getting there fast” is to “take it slow” for a good long portion of the vacation. The Red Frog Beach Island resort benefits from a relatively quick flight to Panama (3 to 5.5 hours) from Houston, Los Angeles, Denver , Miami or Atlanta. From Europe there are direct flights to Panama out of Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Madrid. Panama City is becoming a destination in its own right and it is worth a day or so to explore the historic districts and the Panama canal zone. The quick 45 minute flight direct to the island resorts of Bocas del Toro is interesting in its own right. The tropical scenery is mesmerizing from the sky and as the plane ride unfolds over the Caribbean island chains of Bocas del Toro, the crystal blue waters become punctuated by an incredible array of tropical islands and swirling eddies below.
Any holiday island resort is going to have to fulfill certain expectations on behalf of the visitor. The Red Frog Beach resort is geared towards appealing to those from a variety of different economic backgrounds. We feel that our portfolio of accommodation and dining options is designed to meet any budget- from the high end visitor staying in a private villa with its own plunge pool to the adventure traveler with a backpack who might stay in our Bocas Bound eco hostel . The luxury traveler is as self contained as need be, but the beach activity center and public beaches are for all to enjoy. It is widely noted that the most enjoyable public spaces are those which embrace a diverse group of people and interests. We feel that holds true on Red Frog Beach which is one of the most popular beaches in all of Panama and happens to be on a Caribbean island called Bastimentos.
There are other resorts in Central America, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Honduras but the access to world class beaches is more limited. The Bay Island resorts of Honduras cater almost exclusively to budget divers for certification purposes and the niche is even more narrow for such super exotic locales that are so remote that they better cater to those with specific needs in the viewing of specific eco-systems or plant and animal species that might exist nowhere else. Such island resorts that might fit this category would be the Komodo islands, Galapagos islands, Sonaisali island resort, Filitheyo island resort, Medhufushi, Malolo, Angaga and Tokoriki Island resort. Some of these exist in Indo or Micronesia and are sublimely beautiful but devastatingly remote. One might spend half the time and budget reaching such a destination and that would run counter to the needs of most island resort vacationers.
For the island resort vacationer who is seeking to enjoy the proverbial desert isle with swaying palms, lush vegetation and warm waters a picture is worth more than 1000 words. You will find a very comfortable place to stay at the resort Casa Mukul (pronounced Mukal) which is named for a beautiful area of Nicaragua.
For the naturalist at heart it is important to note that the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) has made the island archipelago Bocas del Toro its long term home for tropical research in a marine environment. There are weekly tours at this facility. More importantly, the placement of such an institution is an attestation to the fact that the world of flora and fauna is alive and well here. Close to 900 species of vertebrates exist in the Bocas del Toro Island Archipelago representing a veritable treasure in biodiversity. Some of the more popular vertebrates that are commonly sighted on our project: Sea turtles (Hawksbill and Leatherback), three toed sloths, Capuchin Monkeys, Caimans, Red Frogs and Red Eyed Tree Frogs. Our private island resort is contiguous to the National Marine Park and much of our private lands are effectively preserves. The coral reefs off the island are in abundance and healthy. We welcome you and our your friends and family to come visit our tropical island resort for not just a vacation, but an experience that will be treasured for many years. With relative proximity, a full slate of adventure activities and a vibrant local culture, you may find yourself coming back year after year.