Category Archives: things to do

26 Adventurists Won a Trip to Red Frog Beach Resort. Here’s What Happened.

What happens when 26 proven adventurists come together at Red Frog Beach Resort?

Exploring the Panamanian rainforest with a great group of Adventure Hunt Winners

Exploring the Panamanian rainforest with a great group of Adventure Hunt Winners

One legendary week of fun, adrenaline, and unforgettable memories.

That’s what we discovered this July when winners of the nation-wide Adventure Hunt joined forces at Red Frog Beach. Adventure Hunt chose us as part of their grand prize– a 6-day, 5-night stay in our luxury villas , along with a free pass to our famed jungle canopy zipline.

Adventuring through the Treetops in Bocas del Toro Panama

Adventure Hunt is an epic American race to find buried treasure from hardcore brands like GoPro, KZ, Red Bull, Stance, GoScope, and Mission Belt. With 24 participating cities, the treasure is buried in each city’s most recognized or unsung adventure sites. Teams race between the sites, completing missions which range from heart-pumping to fun and goofy.

Adventure Hunt climbing palm trees in Bocas del Toro, North Beach, Panama

Who wins this kind of contest? Those with a passion for adventure, a love for nature, and a curious, fun-loving mind. It’s no wonder the winners had such a great time at Red Frog Beach, in the heart of a stunning tropical landscape and endless array of adventures.

Adventure Hunt on the Canopy Zipline at Red Frog Beach, Panama

You can’t exactly put 26 thrill-seekers on an island and expect them to sit still, so we hit up nearly all our activities at Red Frog Beachscuba diving, snorkeling, ziplining, and hiking through the lush jungle terrain. There was plenty of time to relax, too– whether in the private infinity pools at each villa, our island spa, or lounging on our famous white-sand beaches.

Boat at Bocas del Toro Red Frog Beach

Though our 26 winners could not have been more diverse– different backgrounds, ages, vocations, and interests–-everyone got along famously. That’s what happens when a group shares a common passion for adventure and nature: differences tend to slip away.

Adventure Hunt Scuba and Snorkel at Bocas del Toro, Panama with Red Frog BeachWe decided to put their treasure hunting to the test–-Red Frog Beach style. It’s one thing to find treasure in your own city, but how about a foreign island of jungle, caves, towns, and beaches? Adventure Hunt at Red Frog Beach Panama

Unsurprisingly, our guests were up to the challenge. An incredible day of clue-deciphering and island exploration led our winners to a final treasure chest. Inside: GoPro toys, gift cards, and (everyone’s favorite) cold, hard, cash.

Thanks to our 26 winners for an amazing week, and to Adventure Hunt for choosing us as their grand prize location. We’re glad we got to show how we do adventure out here at Red Frog Beach Resort.

Life's a Beach

Thanks to our co-sponsor, Kameleonz!

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Find your own adventure to Red Frog Beach Resort.

BOOK YOUR ISLAND STAY NOW

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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.

 

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?

 

That’s Swell! An Epic Surf season in Bocas del Toro

We thought last surf season was big.

Surfing is incredible right now in Bocas del Toro, Panama…and when the swells are here, you can count on some of the best waves and breaks the Caribbean has to offer!  You might also be surprised by who you run into–Sonny Garcia, former world surf champion, and his friend and pro surfer, Kelly Slater are here.  What kind of Surf Report would bring these guys to Bocas? Check out this.

world-class surfing in Bocas del Toro Panama

World-class surfing in Bocas del Toro, Panama

surf in the Caribbean

Waves for beginners and pro surfers near Red Frog Beach

The most popular wave, known as “Silverbacks,“ is located on the NW corner of Isla Bastimentos which is less than 10 minutes by boat ride from Red Frog Beach docks.  How do you describe these Silverbacks?…Magicseaweed says, “Silverbacks (off of Isla Bastimentos) is Bocas’ big wave spot and it’s the only right reef break in the zone. The ride is short, but the drops are long as the wave ledges up into a large barrel. Boards over 7′ are recommended to surf this spot. It needs a good size swell to start breaking and will hold over 20 ft (6m).”

Sunny Garcia says Silverbacks is likely the “heaviest wave I’ve ever tried to surf….and that is why I’ve been surfing a few other spots around Bocas 🙂  The waves of Bocas are varied, some for the beginner and some for the expert.”

                 Slater and Garcia (Jan. 2015)

Come meet up with these guys and score some of the largest and heaviest, right here from Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

 

Surfing hot-spot! Red Frog Beach, Panama

Surf with the best in Panama’s Caribbean at Bocas del Toro

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!

Featured Again! A World-traveler from Slovokia Shares Her Favorite Things at Red Frog Beach

We are happy to have many kinds of guests at Red Frog Beach, from celebrities to college students, wedding parties to single travelers and more. Sometimes we get to read how they feel about their experience with us through blogging and social media.  Thanks to all our guests who keep in touch with us–you are all part of building our character at Red Frog Beach Resort!

Recently, Alex, expert traveler writer of CrazySexyFunTraveler.com, stayed at the Red Frog Beach Villas for several days.  We were delighted to hear about her coming after knowing her reputation for finding unique adventures and specialty destinations around the world.

Read about what she learned to do, what she likes most about a private pool, and what is on her to-do list for the next time she is here.  Thanks, Alex, for sharing your story!   We hope to see you sooner than later on your next trip to Central America.  (Her post here http://www.crazysexyfuntraveler.com/red-frog-beach-resort/)

Red-Frog-Beach-Bastimentos-13 Alex

Celebrate Carnival 2014 with Panama!

Celebrate Carnival 2014 with Panama!

It is a 5-day event unlike any other in the country, and Panama City hosts the 2nd-largest Carnival celebration in the world.  Think you can dance party non-stop with the best of them? Keeping pace with this crowd would be proof.

Like to party non-stop? Join us for Carnival 2014 in Panama

Like to party non-stop? Join us for Carnival 2014 in Panama

Doing business in Panama?  Don’t think about it for another week while locals are donning costumes, turning up their speakers, dancing and dancing some more–then recovering from Carnival.

Hotels and restaurants host musicians and special events in order to draw the crowd their direction; check your favorite spots for what they have scheduled through the weekend.

History of Carnival

With its roots in Catholicism, the premise of Carnival is getting rid of your sins and preparing to start the Lent period.  Through time it has evolved to an opportunity to indulge before Lent and then just an excuse to let loose like never before.  Panamanians and visitors dancing in the streets have little worry about anyone’s religious practices through the modern Carnival festival.

Carnival 2014 Schedule in Panama

Panamanians in every city will be celebrating.  Panama City hosts the largest Carnival in the country, and each region loosely follows the same schedule.

FRIDAY: Carnival starts the Friday before Ash Wednesday, which for 2014 Carnival is February 28.  Friday night, expect an opening ceremony of sorts.  In Panama City there will be a Carnival queen and attendants presented to symbolically look over the following days’ parades and parties.  Dancing in the streets begins!

SATURDAY: By afternoon, people begin to join the street festival again.  There is a small parade and all day and night you’ll find pockets of various music and crowds moving from one stereo to another.  Vendors set up early with goods from crafts to food, drinks and water balloons.

SUNDAY: Traditionally, the Sunday festival and parades honor Panama’s colorful national costume called pollera.

MONDAY:  Ready for more parades, music and dancing?

TUESDAY:  March 4 will offer the biggest party of all.  Over-the-top parade entries show the competitive spirit within the town to put on the most elaborate show.  Spectators from all backgrounds wander through town with festive costumes, masks, tossing confetti of their own and drink and dance all through the night.  The festival is symbolically over when someone burns a sardine on the beach on the morning of Ash Wednesday.

Expect the Carnival vigor to last until sunrise on Wednesday, even if you don’t.

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?