Monthly Archives: March 2015

Things to do: Isla Bastimentos’s Chocolate Farm

Where chocolate grows on trees!

If you are visiting Panama, touring the chocolate farm on our island is a must.  CNN says it’s one of Panama’s top 11 things to do.

The History of Chocolate in Panama

things to do in Bocas del toro: cacao farm

Visit local, organic, cacao farm on Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro

To early Central American Tribes and even the ancient Mayan and Aztec communities, the cacao plant was very valuable, even used as currency.  As immigrants came to Panama from the other Caribbean Islands, they bought land and employed the native peoples in the production of the plant.  Then, with the discovery of America, chocolate was introduced to Europe and there it was transformed into the product we know today.

In recent times, Ngobe natives have bought back their land and continued production themselves.  At present, about 30 indigenous families own the Oreba Cooperative…Oreba meaning “chocolate” in the Ngobe language.  The Oreba Shop is located on Bocas del Toro on Isla Bastimentos.

Panama’s Chocolate Today

Oreba Chocolate is considered by Swiss experts to be among the finest in the world.  Mix the paste grinded from seed with some sugar and milk, and you’ll get milk chocolate, or leave it without and you’ll get dark chocolate.  These Ngobe families pack all of their products by hand and export them to Switzerland or sell locally.  For a fascinating “plant to product” presentation visit: http://thekatecoast.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/a-magical-place-where-chocolate-grows.html

Chocolate Farm Tours

On Isla Bastimentos, at the top of the highest hill just above the rainforest canopy, you’ll find Oreba Chocolate Farm.  From Red Frog Beach, it’s about a 25 minute hike.  Get ready to roast, grind and sample the goods!!…..and don’t forget to take home some chocolate nibs!

Dive Panama: 2 Oceans in 1 Trip

Dive at the "Galapagos of the Caribbean" in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Dive at the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Panama is easily one of the top 5 diving destinations in the world.  Worldwide experts have called our region in Bocas del Toro the ”Galapagos of the Caribbean.”  Its rich biodiversity comes of its privileged geographical location. 1600 islands comprise Panama and from it’s mountainous interior flow 500 streams and rivers draining into both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans. Bocas del Toro (one of the 9 main Islands) is the most popular dive destination in the country.

What You’ll See Diving Here

On the Caribbean side (our side), say hello to over 250 reef and gamefish, 52 kinds of different coral and more than a dozen species of sea turtles! You’ll fin past nurse sharks, stingrays, dolphins, lobster, starfish, seahorses and vase sponges–all thriving among the dramatic and diverse reefscapes of Bocas del Toro.

On the Pacific side, look for whales, dolphins, black marlin and even the 400-pound jewfish!  Enjoy amazing volcanic formations and abyssal drop-offs.

There’s more.  Weather permitting, it’s possible to dive the famous Panama Canal and see the first sunken trans-isthmian railroad and the 19-century trains that ran on it to build the Canal.

All in all, your diving experience exploring Panama’s underwater worlds should leave you astonished, amazed and “sea”duced!

How You’ll Get Here to Bocas del Toro

You decide:  Fast and convenient or slower and less-costly. There are 3 main options with Panama City as your start point:

  • a flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro (45 minutes.)

  • a bus from Panama City to Almirante (10 – 11 hours) and a boat to Bocas del Toro (30 minutes.)

  • driving from Panama City to Almirante (10 – 11 hours) and then a Ferry to Bocas del Toro (2 hours.)

Experienced diving instructors and friendly local companies will help advise and design the perfect tour for you and your party.

 

Love to hear about what you are looking for when you dive! Underwater architecture? Swimming mammals? Bright coral and reef fish? Join the discussion!

11 Reasons to Say “I Do” to Beach Destination Weddings

After experiencing a destination beach wedding in Bocas del Toro, Panama, it’s hard to imagine another wedding venue that compares.

Destination beach wedding in Bocas del Toro Panama Caribbean

Make your vows on a secluded Caribbean island with a romantic Red Frog Beach wedding.

Think about experiencing something like this. The wedding begins at 5:00 pm.  Guests walk on the sandy pathway through the tropical forest towards the sparkling Caribbean Sea.  Everyone has enjoyed breathtaking scenery, lively coral reefs, Panama’s colorful birds, dolphin families and maybe a monkey or two.  As you now approach the beach, waves gently wash to shore in rhythm. You feel  the soft breeze of ocean’s air  and see a stunning sunset spreading through the sky.  All of this beauty fills you and the people you love most. All are transported into sublime, pure, natural beauty.  It’s just one of those moments that will never be forgotten. Cradled in this moment, in this dreamy, far away place, two hearts are bound together.

Cut! — Switch to indoor wedding scene at the clubhouse in your hometown…

Which wedding celebration connects with you?

Here are 11 more reasons for a destination beach wedding:

  • Less expensive than you think.
  • The couple only pays flights for themselves.
  • Guests pay their way.  (After all, it’s a vacation for them, too!)
  • Stay a few extra days in paradise in a private villa for your honeymoon. Booyah!  2 birds with one stone.
  • Stunning, unforgettable venue. Nature’s price tag? 0 dollars.
  • Fewer guests.  Close family and friends make an intimate and memorable event for everyone.
  • Stress-free.  A wedding planner is always provided at your destination of choice. Any worries for your all-inclusive destination wedding are handled by them.

  • Plan several days of fun events for your guest to choose. Try SCUBA or snorkeling, the zipline, hiking to secret beaches, oceanside bonfires, a massage on the quiet beach, or Yoga for the group.

  • Once-in-a-lifetime experience, in a once-in-a-lifetime place.

  • Red Frog Beach weddings are out of the hurricane-zone in Panama, so you can come any time of year!

  • Getting the most romantic, beautiful back-drop ever.  That’s E-V-E-R!

What makes a beach wedding special for you?