Category Archives: Bocas del Toro

Recently Announced Condos at Red Frog Beach, Panama Are Attracting Many Americans Ready to Move Internationally in Uneasy Sociopolitical Times

Trending: More North Americans than ever consider moving outside the U.S., while Panama continues to be one of the top places to go. The Red Frog Beach Island Community in Bocas del Toro Panama announces the start of construction for its Beach Condos called La Perla Azul to Provide Luxury Island Living alongside Panama’s Economic Benefits.

BOCAS DEL TORO, Panama, April 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Panama has become one of the hottest spots for Americans seeking a 2nd home. A recent poll by Morning Consult/Vox showed that 1 in 4 Americans would seriously consider leaving the U.S. if a particular candidate wins the presidency. Continue reading

10 Keys to the Perfect Family Vacation in Bocas del Toro

Your vacation is around the corner and you want to make sure it is one that builds lifelong memories for all the right reasons. Here are our tips for making sure you are going to have a family vacation that is as perfect as possible.

10 Keys to the Perfect Family Vacation in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an amazing vacation spot for families.

1. Don’t stay on the main island.

Isla Colon, or Bocas Town, is the main island of Bocas del Toro and holds the lion’s share of hotels and restaurants. Many assume it’s the most convenient location, but for families that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bocas Town can get quite rowdy at night, with bars and nightclubs blasting music til the late AM. The island has few beaches to speak of, and not much to do for children.

Other islands are close by, more beautiful, and more kid-friendly. Isla Bastimentos– the island on which we’re located– is famous for it’s perfect beaches and lush rainforests, both of which offer a score of activities. (Check out our virtual resort map!)  At Red Frog Beach, you’ll have extra amenities like restaurants, private pools, cave and island toursjungle zipline, a spa and yoga center, and a world class marina.

 

2. Find kid-friendly accommodations

Not all hotels in Bocas del Toro allow children, choosing instead to cater to the young party crowd or older couples. Even if a hotel doesn’t blatantly disallow kids, it might not have the type of atmosphere or people you want your kids around.

Find a hotel that prides itself on being kid-friendly, as we do at Red Frog Beach. Not only will your child be safer and you more relaxed, there will likely be other kids for yours to play with (and parents for you to meet!)

 

3. Get a house, not a hotel room.

Family Vacation Home Villa at Red Frog Beach

Villas at Red Frog Beach have room for the whole group to feel at home in Bocas del Toro.

Squishing the whole family into a hotel room leads to bickering, tears, and frustration. It doesn’t allow for the space a family needs, nor does it offer a true ‘home’ experience.

Accommodations like the Villas at Red Frog Beach give the family more space, privacy, and flexibility. They also enable you to keep up with the habits that keep you and the family grounded. Family dinners. A bedtime story. Yoga on the balcony. Movie night on the couch.

You can get up to a 6-bedroom Villa at Red Frog Beach Resort– all of which are perfectly located and impeccably designed. Each villa includes a private pool, fully equipped kitchen, daily housekeeping, reliable WIFI, breakfast on the beach, and airport transfer both ways.

 

4. Run on “Panama time”

With so many wonderful things to do in Bocas del Toro, it’s tempting to squeeze too many things into one day. Doing so is a sure-fire way to burn out quickly. Better to give yourself ample time for each activity and actually enjoy it. Going too fast can also be dangerous, given Panama’s thrist-inducing tropical climate.

You’ll also be running on “Panama time” – a phrase we use to describe how life in general moves more slowly in Panama. Even if you and the kids do manage to master a busy schedule, chances are someone or something else won’t. Neither Panama nor your kids are likely to speed up, so you may as well opt for a smooth ride.

 

5. Look for family rates and packages.

Hotels, tour groups, and even restaurants can offer special rates and incentives for families. At Red Frog Beach, for example, we offer a family package that will place you in one of our luxurious villas– complete with private pool, furnished kitchens, and daily housekeeping.

The package also includes daily breakfast on the beach, a zipline canopy tour, family fishing trips, Bar-B-Q events, dual airport transfer, and a private jungle cart in which to explore the island.

Ask about family packages and discounts wherever you go. Many Bocas businesses are owner-operated, giving them the ability to negotiate. It can’t hurt to ask– and you may find yourself saving a lot in the long run.

6. Choose your beaches wisely.

Some beaches in Bocas del Toro are more kid-friendly than others. The same ocean currents that gift Bocas with its excellent surf scene can also make for dangerous swimming, depending on the beach. Bocas also has some of the best coral reef in the region, which is great for snorkeling but not for delicate feetsies.

While Isla Bastimentos has its surf spots, Red Frog Beach also has many shallow, sandy-bottom areas perfect for the kiddos. Another nice beach for kids is Starfish Beach, on the main island of Isla Colon. The water is clear and shallow, and, as the name might imply, glittered with beautiful cartoon-colored Starfish.

 

7. Take a family class at Habla Ya Spanish School.

“School” might not be the first word in your vacation vocabulary, but with the right mindset it can be fun and rewarding. It’s the perfect opportunity to show kids that learning is fun– something one chooses to do, even on vacation (and even Mom and Dad!)

These aren’t your stuffy Spanish classes from high school, either. Bocas del Toro is home to the highly respected language school Habla Ya– and classes aren’t just effective, they’re downright fun. Using a full-immersion technique, they combine classroom time with real-life adventures, like walking tours, souvenir shopping, and eating at local restaurants.

 

8. Widen your kids’ cultural perspective (and your own).

Strolling the colorful streets of Bocas del Toro, you’ll see families with a very different way of life. Rickety houses, bare-bum babies, handmade clothes and simple toys. There’s even an indigenous village, where people live similarly to their ancestors.

Rather than shy away from reality, let your kids observe how families in other cultures live. This is more than a lesson in gratitude. The locals here may never own an iPad, but they have things we often lack: close family ties, time spent outside, and a keen sense of joy and appreciation.

Encourage your kids to observe and interact with the locals here, and do the same yourself. They may start to understand there’s more to life than having the next big thing. One parent told us their most memorable part of the trip wasn’t sailing or snorkeling, but watching their son kick a ball around with the local kids.

9. Encourage them to try something new.

Children of all ages will fall in love with the islands of Bocas del Toro.

Children of all ages will fall in love with the islands of Bocas del Toro.

Many “firsts” are had in Bocas del Toro, whether first time on a surfboard, zip-lining through the jungle, or slapping on a scuba mask. It can be daunting to try such adventurous things, but encourage your kids to experiment. You never know, they may unlock a passion like hiking or sailing that sticks with them the rest of their lives.

In fact, we’ve had kids fall *so* in love with a new island hobby, their parents ended up investing in Red Frog Beach Real Estate.

10. Foster appreciation and interest in the environment.

Bocas del Toro is more than a picturesque paradise. It’s a unique ecosystem with incredible biodiversity and one of the best coral reefs in the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to instill your kid with a greater awareness and appreciation of the environment.

Take a guided tour, and encourage your kids to actively listen to the guide’s commentary. Show interest in your surroundings, point out neat things like animals, flowers, and birds. Give your kids a healthy sense of awe in the world around them; it’s one of the best gifts you can give them.

 

7 Frequently Asked Questions When Traveling to Panama

Here are 7 of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Panama to help you make plans and enjoy your trip! Please contact us with any questions you have about traveling to Panama or Bocas del Toro.

Is Panama safe?

Yes! Panama is safer than most big U.S. cities. It is the safest country in the region and one of the safest in Latin America.  That said, use common sense and don’t wander in poor areas at night, use only authorized yellow taxis, and do not leave your valuables unattended at the beach.

7 Tips for Panama tripsWhen is the best time to book my visit to Bocas del Toro?

Panama is a year-round attraction. The temperature hardly varies, hovering at about 80 degrees fahrenheit.  The sun shines everyday, all year-round.  We like to say October thru November is the “green” season for bringing the most rain to nurture our thriving ecosystem, but there is still some sun everyday, and possibly some rain, too. Contact us to discuss how the best time for you might vary based on particular activities such as sport fishing or surfing.

Will it be a problem if I don’t speak Spanish?

Not a problem!  Most Panamanians in Panama City and Bocas del Toro speak English, along with other languages.  Panama is an international crossroads where English has been established. Panamanians who cater to tourists are especially comfortable with speaking English.

Do I need a visa/passport to visit Panama?

Not typically.  A visa is required if you intend to work/study/live here.  A passport is required for trips of up to 180 days.  Note: a law requires people entering Panama to have at least 3 months before the expiration on his/her passport, so plan accordingly.

What’s the best way to get to Panama?

From the U.S. there are many direct flights to Panama: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, TX, Houston, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, NJ, Orlando, Tampa, and Washington D.C..  From Canada, Copa has direct flights from Montreal and Toronto.  KLM flies direct from Amsterdam, and Iberia from Madrid. There is also a direct flight from Paris. As of 2014, Southwest flies direct to San Jose, Costa Rica which is very close to Bocas del Toro by regional airline or chartered boat transportation.

What is the currency?

The U.S. dollar, also referred to as a balboa.  No currency exchange hassles!  It’s one of Panama’s great conveniences.

What is the number of the Tourism Hotline?

Just call 311. Operators speak English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. They will advise you if you are having a problem and give you general tourism advice.

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!

Reinventing an Island Bar & Grill: Punta Lava

New Owners and a Menu Makeover at Punta Lava Bar & Grill

We are excited to introduce two dedicated owners at Punta Lava Bar & Grill and a menu makeover!

With a location one of Panama’s favorite beaches, Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill offers stunning views, beachfront access, and sea-to-table freshness that satisfies guests day and night.  Recently, Punta Lava has been reinvented by two innovative, dedicated and energetic owners.  We are excited to introduce Rich Littlefield and Kristie Craven, each with 20+ years of valuable experience from Tahoe restaurants to hot bars on Waikiki.  They are the ones bringing the goodness to your plate, and your glass, right here on Red Frog Beach.

Here’s the scoop from our Q/A with them about their love for Bocas, why they relocated here from Hawaii, and how they are making Punta Lava better for guests and the island community.

Inside Punta Lava Restaurant in Bocas Del Toro

Order a Coco Loco at the bar, or the day’s catch of Lobster–you won’t be disappointed

What attracted you to Bocas del Toro & Red Frog Beach?  What attracted us to Bocas and Red Frog is the natural and unspoiled beauty that exists here.   We were enamored by the panga boat taxis to get around, the clear warm tropical waters, the surfing, the diving and the variety of animals found in the jungle here.

We could also clearly see that tourism was relatively new to the area and growing and that Bocas was becoming a destination that people were discovering worldwide.   We thought that Panama was the new Costa Rica and very much like Hawaii must have been fifty to sixty years ago and that the timing was right to locate opportunities here.

When did you know you wanted to run a restaurant as a career? What is the best part?  Kristie and I [Rich] both knew that we always wanted to work for ourselves on a dream or project that we could have direct effects on.  The corporate mega hotels in Hawaii are too ingrained with red tape, bottom lines and corporate policies…  The “best part” we both believe is being able to create nightly exciting specials that we feel the guests will enjoy and then chatting with the guests to hear their feedback and stories about where they are from and how they, too, discovered Bocas.

Eat at Punta Lava on Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro

Get five-star service at this beachside bar and grill

Who is in the kitchen on a typical night? Our executive Chef Kinga Samudia is in charge with his Sous Chef Yasir creating incredible food combinations and sauces.    Kinga is from Bocas and has owned his own restaurant here in the past.   He also has cooked in Italy for four years, Thailand for two and Malaysia for one year before returning to Panama.    With this wide variety of cooking knowledge coupled with his incredible ability to speak five languages he is truly an asset and superstar that we are proud to have and showcase here at Punta Lava.

What’s Chef Kinga cooking tonight?  Though we change up our nightly menu every night here we strive to have Lobster on the menu as much as possible.   In addition to that we also have local caught octopus (pulpo) and sashimi grade yellow and black fin tuna on the menu most nights of the week.

What is it like behind the scenes at Punta Lava? A typical day and night at Punta Lava is much different than most restaurants in the states or surrounding developed areas.   We work with over 25 different local fisherman, farmers, bread bakers, and jungle fruit collectors in order to write our menu daily and keep our guest coming back for more.

What has impressed you about Bocas del Toro? What has impressed us the most about Bocas Del Toro are the friendly people: local people as well as the array of tourists from around the world who also love Bocas.  In addition to that is the bountiful availability of seafood and produce found in the surrounding ocean and jungle.

What do you hope to add to the island? We hope to bring … consistently great food and five star service.   This combination back in Hawaii, coupled with the aloha spirit, has made the Hawaiian islands a legendary destination location…We hope to see happen here in gorgeous Bocas Del Toro.

Restaurant in Bocas del Toro Red Frog Beach

Refresh at Punta Lava

What is the Fan-Favorite drink at Punta Lava? Our most revered drink here at Punta Lava would be a toss-up between “Snappers Rum Punch,” which has six fruits and two different rums in it and has a phenomenal balance and texture to it, and our famous “Coco-Loco Surprise,” which is one fresh coconut opened, the water blended with coconut puree, Malibu rum and Seco Herrano (local sugar cane liquor) and then poured back in the coconut and topped with a garnish of toasted coconut.  Yum!

Are you more adventurous on vacation?

There are a lot of reasons to travel, and one that regularly tops the list is the need to just get away.  There is a lot to getaway from: work responsibilities, busy schedules, your hometown, cold and snow, and stress.  But do you sometimes travel to get away from your normal self?

In a recent article on LandLopers, Matt Long proposes that many travelers throw their usual inhibitions out and say yes at the chance to bungee jump off a stadium in South Africa, when “the thought of a nearby bungee spot has honestly never occurred to me,” he said.

Call it crazy, courage, flexibility, or open-mindedness, the idea is that these traits increase while inhibitions, fears, and walls come down when we are traveling.

Why is it that people are suddenly more eager to try activities, food, and experiences when they are farthest from home?  And does it start the moment of getting off the plane or a day or two into the trip?

Zipline in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

What fears have you conquered while traveling? Done something crazy you wouldn’t have done otherwise?

We see this in Bocas del Toro with Resort guests who might otherwise be petrified of heights who end up wanting round-2 on the Zip Line Canopy Tour (we don’t need to discuss some first-hand experience with this one).  Others, typically uncomfortable with swimming can’t get enough snorkeling time with neon fish, large starfish, and harmless sharks in the vibrant coral reefs.

For others, it is hard enough to get on the intimate domestic flight to Bocas, where there is a beautiful chance to appreciate local Caribbean lifestyle without a “super” shopping center.

Perhaps that’s why guests appreciate the villas and private pools so much–there are plenty of thrilling and new fish, hikes, waves, food, villages, vistas, people, tropical wildlife, and natural attractions to encounter during the days, that it is nice to relax in a place that feels like home at night.  Unwind on the sofa, patio, or by the pool–while charting the next day’s possibilities.

It is probably good for us to travel and discover these new sides of ourselves.  It can bring our everyday selves and the inner adventurer closer together.

What have you overcome while traveling that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

 

Best of 2013 at Red Frog Beach Resort, Panama

Best of 2013 at the Best place in the Caribbean!

What a year it has been for Red Frog Beach Resort in 2013! By looking deeper into our connection with the island, its pristine beauty and rich history, we were motivated in many areas of growth.  Here are some of our highlights, all benchmarking the way to creating a more valuable guest experience.

JOIN THE 2013 MEMORIES!

Highlights of the Resort and Guests at Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Highlights of the Resort and Guests at Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

We have shared these times and lifetime experiences with so many of you!  If you have a travel photo of these or another favorite moment from Bocas del Toro, Panama, please share it with us to add to the Best of 2013 album on Facebook!  We are collecting photos to remember what we all have shared, learned, and experienced this year.  Look up those photos on your phone, camera or computer file and put them to work—the more the merrier!

Without further paragraph, the Best of 2013 list!

  • Featured On Mundo Social TV show and Viajando en Pareja, among other TV shows & movies!
  • Finished hillside construction in Villa neighborhood!
  • El Susurro Spa opening!
  • Redesigned Resort Entrance!
  • Marine Fuel Station at the Marina!
  • Grand Open House celebration!
  • Opened our Bocas Airport office!
  • New management and menus at Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill!
  • Facebook reaches 1000+ Likes! (how long ‘till 5000?)
  • New English & Spanish Websites!
  • Redesigned All-Inclusive Vacation Packages!

 Don’t forget to join our Best of 2013 Celebration with your travel photos and comments!

El Susurro Spa at Red Frog Beach Resort is Now Open!

El Susurro Spa is now open and taking appointments!

At the heart of our island oasis, find a whispering natural spring, relaxation and bliss.

At the heart of our island oasis, find a whispering natural spring, relaxation and bliss.

What is better than a natural Spa retreat on an intimate Caribbean island, giving you a break between surfing days, tropical forest hikes, an organic cacao farm tour, SCUBA diving, the Best Secret Beaches, and the rest Bocas del Toro, Panama has to offer?

Connect on Facebook

Here is the spa’s Facebook page.
“Like” it and you’ll get our updates, specials, and yoga class announcements.
Leah Kropp, our certified yoga instructor, will be leading classes on Tues/Thurs at 9am on “the Point” by Punta Lava and is available for private sessions.
All of our therapists are licensed and experienced. Let us rebalance your mind, body, and spirit at our beautiful island Spa.
If you would like to book an appointment prior to your visit, please email us at spa@redfrogbeach.com, send us a Facebook message, or call the villa host at 507-655-98970.
We look forward to seeing you soon.

Massage services are available at El Susurro Spa or by appointment in the privacy of your island villa.

Massage services are available at El Susurro Spa or by appointment in the privacy of your island villa.

7 Things to Keep a Beginning Surfer from Looking Like a Greenie

It is a legendary sport for all ages.  But, just how do you break into surfing?  A little hesitant to try?

With December approaching and bringing the surfing season to Bocas del Toro, this is for those who want to learn to surf in the Caribbean this winter.  You can be a beginner surfer without standing out for the wrong reasons.

7 things to keep a beginner surfer from looking like a “greenie”

More than a dozen waves in Bocas del Toro, Panama challenge surfers of all levels

More than a dozen waves in Bocas del Toro, Panama challenge surfers of all levels

1.      Apprenticeship  Taking a lesson isn’t the same as the mentality of openly investing in the sport as an apprentice with a trustworthy, experienced tutor.  They will teach you that this sport is as much about culture as it is about technique, and will hopefully keep you just as much from getting in a fight with other surfers as from getting held in a riptide.

2.      Rashguard Don’t dress for the pool or a regular beach day.  Men and women wear rash guards with their swimsuits to protect their skin from rubbing on the board.  Sun protection is a secondary bonus.

3.      Study  This is homework you do from the beach.  Study the waves before you put your toes in.  Watch for patterns, get to know the wave tendencies and plan your route.

4.      Respect  Respect the locals, respect your realistic ability, and respect the right-of-way to the first person on the wave.  If you have a mentor, show respect for them too.

5.      Location  Call it a “spot.” Prepare with updated surf reports and your mentor, or advice from a local board shop, to find the right current and weather for your experience.  You’ll have more success, and fun, with beginner-friendly waves, a beach break, and a lot of space to yourself.

6.      Endurance  Surfing requires a lot of shoulder and arm strength, core strength and balance, plus the mental stamina to miss the wave or tumble and then paddle back out.  Have patient endurance learning to catch a wave before pushing out too far.  It’s easier to do this at a secluded beginner spot than getting in the way of other surfers already cruising the wave.

With the right waves and coach, you can learn how to surf in Panama

With the right waves and coach, you can learn how to surf in Panama

7.      Vocab  You probably understand a barrel or tube when it comes to describing a wave, but could you identify a cutback move or a duck dive?  While you could ask the locals to explain every other sentence, this is another reason to go with a knowledgeable surfer the first few times you hit the waves.

Enjoy the day, the water, and the company, regardless of how you are able to ride.  Everyone can have a good time and promote positive vibes on the water.

And for the rest of you who have to look out for the beginners on the water, any other tips that should be on this list? What do you recommend for the folks learning to surf?

Red Frog Beach Resort has surfing lessons and excursions available with experienced guides.  Access more than a dozen waves in breathtaking, untouched areas of the Caribbean in Bocas del Toro.