Category Archives: Bocas Town

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.

 

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?

 

Swap the Taxi for… Water Taxi!

In Bocas del Toro, there are a few paved roads and even fewer cars.  At the same time, there are thriving communities on the main Isla Colon and out on several other surrounding islands.  From daily tasks including the job commute and household shopping to surfing and excursions, the regular way around the Bocas del Toro archipelago is best done by boat.

Water Taxi is the local way to travel in Bocas del Toro

Water Taxi is the local way to travel in Bocas del Toro

Along the waterfront in Bocas Town on Isla Colon there are many water taxi options.  Jampan Tours is one that runs regular routes back and forth to Isla Bastimentos, as well as other places on demand.  The Red Frog Resort also can help arrange water travel around the islands as you need it.

Top 6 Reasons to Appreciate The Panga*

*Panga= Bocas del Toro term for the typically fiberglass motorboat; most common transportation choice of locals and used for water taxi.  Parks on a beach or at a dock.Appreciate the Panga: Water Taxi in Bocas del Toro
  1. Sightseeing every minute.  Bocas del Toro is no place to have your nose in a smartphone (or newspaper?).  Keep your eyes open and on the wonderland around you and you’ll spot starfish in the water underneath your ride or even dolphins playing alongside.
  2. Schedule? It’s a fluid term.  Account for the laid-back Island Time Zone that you enter in Bocas del Toro.  Also, some water taxis have covered tops, but weather can still be an influence in water conditions.  Embrace the easy going vibes as an unexpected opportunity.
  3. Anyway you like it.  Go from Isla Bastimentos to uninhabited Zapatilla Cay for postcard-worthy snorkeling, out to a local favorite surf spot, a restaurant on another island, or anywhere else in the region for just a few dollars.  No traffic, no honking, just open air and your adventure ahead.
  4. It’s Local.  Panga is the transportation of choice for most locals, including water taxi service.  These small boats might serve for groceries one day and be your coach to paradise the next.  They are crucial to local culture and economy.
  5. Early to Bed.  Sunset around here is about
    Water Taxi access beats having a Rental Car any day.

    Water Taxi access beats having a Rental Car any day.

    7pm year-round, so most of the regularly scheduled services will end with the last ride at 6:30.  Arrange later services as necessary with reputable companies that have well-lit boats.  Or, pick up drinks in the afternoon and take them back to party at your villa poolside at night.

  6. Language Lessons.  Water Taxi drivers will be bi-lingual in English and Spanish.  Practice your phrases and learn some new ones on the ride!

Have you taken a water taxi?  What would you add to the list?  What favorite memories do you have from your ride or the driver?

Bocas del Toro’s Feria del Mar–The Fair of the Sea

As the Caribbean Fall approaches, the waters around Bocas del Toro turn a calm, clear crystal blue. The boat captains tune their engines as the local community of Bocas Town gears up to celebrate the festival of the season.

Bocas Town, just a 10 minute ride from Red Frog Marina, is bustling for the 5-day Feria del Mar festivities.

Bocas Town, just a 10 minute ride from Red Frog Marina, is bustling for the 5-day Feria del Mar festivities

 Get ready for Feria del Mar, The Fair of the Sea.

During this uniquely original Bocas event, Isla Colon and the waters around her turn into a place for fun, great food, and a community in action. Feira del Mar is a festival for everyone. Thousands of people from the surrounding islands and region come together on the beaches as the Bocas streets transform into a fairground.

The festival is a 50-year tradition showing appreciation to the local fisherman and boatsmen in a celebration of the sea.

The festival starts on Wednesday, September 11, and culminates five days later on Sunday, September 15 with the Bocas Boat Races, which showcase the motorized pangas and the classic wooden Cayukos (canoes), hand-built from large local trees.

 Music and dancing is a key draw for the locals who grew up coming to this festival. From salsa, calypso, reggae and Panamanian rock, there is a little something for everyone, including local folk dances performed by area children in traditional costume.

 Food brings more flavor to the fair as local venders prepare and sell tasty Panamanian treats; a few of the highlights are fresh local fish, the Torrejitas, a sweat and salty corn fried dough and Sancocho soup.

 The children and families are a centerpiece of the day time festivities, enjoying the great selection of games, carnival rides and prizes, as well as arts and crafts. A queen of the fair is chosen, “La Reina,” and then everyone comes to Playa Ismito beach on Sunday for the excitement of the boat races.

Residents of the Bocas Archipelago still prefer traditional Cayukos transportation.

Residents of the Bocas Archipelago still prefer traditional Cayukos as daily transportation

 The Archipelago of Bocas del Toro with all of the beautiful natural wonders, the islands, seascapes and the tropical rain forests; Feria del Mar stands out in the September breeze as a don’t-miss special occasion.