Tropical Island Paradise on Isla San Cristobal, Bocas del Toro, Panama. We have two rustic houses: the Reef Cabin built on stilts on the water and the Hill House with sweeping views. The island has no roads, trails, or electricity, but we have solar panels, rainwater collection for fresh water, and even wifi with a back up provider, which makes this site also ideal for co-workers, freelancers and satellite workers. The property can accommodate groups up to 16 people, but couples are also more than welcome.
The Hill House has one private bedroom with a queen sized bed; a loft screened-in space with 2 queen sized beds and a single bed separated by a room divider, and an un-screened balcony with sweeping views; an open-layout kitchen with gas stove, refrigerator, icemaker, blender, etc.; and a bathroom with water flush toilet and shower. Entirely enclosed or screened in. Note: a self catered stay is possible here, but take in account that stocking up supplies before your stay is a not to be underestimated mission. Therefor we offer deliciously prepared meals for our guests. Breakfast 8usd pp, Lunch 10usd pp and dinner 15usd pp.
The Reef Cabin, perched atop the island's coastal coral reef, offers two private bedrooms (one with it's own diving board into the ocean below!); a screened kitchen with refrigerator, stove, blender and running fresh water and a gas barbecue on the deck. There is a freshwater shower (biodegradable soap only, please!) at the cabin, and the composting toilet is a 2 minute walk, on the land. The kitchen is screened in and the beds do have mosquito nets. For separate bookings of the reef cabin book via add: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/919910
A large deck around the Reef Cabin is open to all guests for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or relaxing in a hammock. There is miles of jungle hiking all around.
Clean linens and towels are provided for all guests. Spices, cooking oils, rice, and other kitchen basics are provided for your use, along with fresh young coconut juice, bananas, and other fresh goods from the property. (Cilantro, lemongrass, and citruses galore grow all around the Hill House!)
A 30-minute each way, $70 round trip boat ride will take you to the town of Bocas del Toro, which has over a dozen bars and restaurants, a fun backpacker party scene, some very good food, some not-so-good food, an airport, several small supermarkets, local fruit and vegetable stands, and lots of local color and diversity. A similar boat trip will take you to the mainland (Almirante), a jumping off point for extended trips to Panama's incredible cloud forest or Costa Rica.
Bring your bug spray, your tall boots, and your bathing suit! It's tropical adventure time!
!!! IMPORTANT: THIS IS A RUSTIC PLACE, NOT A RESORT !!!
It's for the adventurous, who want reasonable comfort in a remote setting, and want to experience realities of rural life in the tropics. In addition to the abundant pleasures of the lush forests and reefs, you should expect to…..
TEST YOUR SELF-RELIANCE: You will have people come by selling you fish they just caught, and then learn that you have no idea how to clean it, and that that makes a giant mess. Salt water, humidity and the jungle may wrestle with you for control of the electronics, hardware, and other goods we've provided. Get ready to be a little MacGuyver — and speak up if you have questions or problems!
GO OFF GRID: You will run out of running water if you take long showers or if the rains don't come. The solar panels are backed with batteries, but you'll need to remember to turn off lights and fans when not in use — especially when the clouds hang out for a few days. The Internet is fast and reliable — but it does go down on occasion.
WEAR BUG PROTECTION: In the hill house you will see dozens of geckos feeding on the insects on the OUTSIDE of the screen that keeps you nice and relatively bug free in the house. You will forget to close the screen door when you go out for a midnight and spend the rest of the night swatting mosquitos and other bugs. You will get bitten by bugs when you forget to use insect repellent or cover up when leaving the house at dawn or dusk.
If this still sounds awesome, come check it out! We will organize your pickup and will make sure you have what you need to enjoy your stay. We also will show you around and suggest activities.
!!! DELIGHTFUL EXTRAS !!!
Some of our guests have enjoyed the following extras, so we thought we'd share them with you!
• DOLPHIN WATCHING in Dolphin Bay by sunset or sunrise. A private experience with more than a good chance to approach dolphins very closely with our SUP-board from our panga. $30/trip.
• SNORKELING/PARADISIACAL BEACH/DOLPHIN
WATCHING: boat tours to Islas Zapatillas & Coral Cay, passing through Dolphin Bay twice with a very good chance to spot dolphins. ($60/person, whole day, tour discount as from 3 persons)
• RED FROG BEACH: visit the most scenic beaches of the archipelago with a snorkel stop at Hospital Point, a top snorkeling spot! ($50/person, whole day, tour discount as from 3 persons)
• FARM TOURS: visit a local farm and learn more about the local vegetables & fruits or visit a chocolate farm ($10 to $15/person, including boat ride)
• OTHER TOURS: upon request
• MEALS: breakfast 8usd pp, lunch 12 pp, dinner 15pp. Only fresh and mostly local ingredients, prepared with love!
• LAUNDRY: per-piece laundry service provided by housekeeping ($0.50 per item)
Cleaning fee includes pick up and drop off by boat from town (30 min ride).
The boat is an open panga with an outboard engine and wooden seats.
You're welcome to use any of the toys (kayaks, snorkeling gear, aquaskipper, water trampoline) but please leave them in the same or better shape as you found them.
Help yourself to any fruit you find on the farm (but ask if you're not sure what it is :)
Extra trips to town $70.
Please be responsible with electricity use (if there is no sunshine for a couple of days, batteries can run low).
Likewise, but less critically, with water. The tanks last for about a month with no rain, which almost never happens, but leaving a faucet running overnight is a really bad idea.
We love this place! Leo (the caretaker) and his wife Estelle are warm and friendly, the land is beautiful, and the panaramic views from the Hill House are incredible.
The house is well equipped and we have everything we need for a comfortable stay in paradise (including reliable wifi!). We really enjoy getting to know the other guests down at the reef cabins and grilling loads of freshly caught fish (thanks Richard!). Surprisingly, there are also a couple of great restaurants on the neighbouring islands, which make for a fun change of pace from time to time.
The reef has an abundance of wildlife and we've spent hours snorkelling amongst the coral. Plus, a big highlight for me was paddle boarding with a pod of dolphins :)
As mentioned in many other posts, the place is most definitely rustic, and not for those who are squeamish about bugs or a lack of hot water. But for those looking for a little corner of paradise, as it was meant to be, this is the spot to be.
Thank you Ulrich, Lazare, Leo and Estelle for an incredible experience!
We stayed in both this Jungle Retreat and also in the Reef Cabin on the water (the other rental). We loved it!! Lazure is a very welcoming host, and we had fun spending time with him. There is also a very friendly dog and two cats. Oh, and can't forget the school of fish under the dock that like to be fed.
It's so beautiful here - a true paradise! You can swim right off the dock, kayak, SUPboard, visit nearby Dolphin Bay...lots to do. There is equipment available to snorkel, but the water is so crystal clear we viewed the beautiful coral right from the kayaks. Or, you can relax and nap in the lounge chairs on the dock. There is a restaurant across the bay (only open Friday night and Sunday) where we spent a fun Sunday afternoon.
It is rustic (meaning bugs and spiders!) but you are in the jungle so that's to be expected. However, if you're used to camping, this is "luxury": a very well stocked full kitchen, bath with flush toilet and (cold) shower, electricity, and internet. (And there was no lack of outlets to charge your devices.) The beds were comfortable and no "city" noise when you slept - just the sounds of nature. You are renting the entire cabin (it was just two of us) but this would be ideal for a large group - a private "master" bedroom is on the first floor, and the second floor has multiple beds to accommodate many. It's set up the hill, so it's very private, yet you have full access to the dock (where two other rentals are located).
Unfortunately, Jodi (the cook) had to be away during our stay due to a family emergency, but Lazure was able notify us in advance and we came prepared with groceries bought in Bocas.
Our only regret is that we didn't stay longer!! This was our favorite place of our vacation. Hope to make a return visit someday. Thanks Lazure!
PS. While Ulrich officially owns the property, Lazure and Jodi are the property managers and who you will be dealing with.
I work in tech in San Francisco and decided to vacation/work remote somewhere rustic for a month and get away from city life. Chose this place because of the beautiful pictures and they mentioned they hosted work remote retreats before. The internet speed was around 1Mbps and that was perfect for my work and streaming music. Spotify works here without having to go in offline mode. The internet never went down while I was there even with some of the massive storms that came through.
This trip was one of my most memorable vacations for me not just because of the beautiful location, but because the hosts, Lazare and Jody, were awesome people. They took care of anything I needed and are just really cool people to hang out with. I already miss this place, Lazare, and Jody. Hopefully one day I will be back.
This is without a doubt the most amazing, adventurous yet luxurious listing on Airbnb. Highly recommended. We had an unforgettable stay with our large group. Lazare and Jody (the actual hosts) are really helpful and know how to cook. Would love to go back.
Great host and great place to stay! This place is not a resort, but a cosy, close to nature, jungle & island experience. Way better than any package holiday or boutique hotel.
The host(s) were really friendly and had great cooking skillls.
The hillhouse had plenty of space and the overwater dock was a great place to chill.
Lazare has been a very nice and incredibly helpful host throughout the whole duration of our stay (8 days). He is knowledgeable of the local flora and fauna, as well as the places to visit around Cristobal Island. He's resourceful and always willing to help, crossing the boundary of the typical exchange you'd expect in a professional setting, it felt more like spending the week with a friend.
The island itself is quite magical, with the temperature of the water about the same as the surrounding atmosphere. As Cristobal is located in a bay, the stillness of the water reflects like glass and allows you to see right to the bottom of the exotic reef. At night, the water on the reef glows with bioluminescence (when excited via movement) and feels a bit like swimming through the night sky. It rained daily, as it was the rainy season — but the rain was mostly concentrated from 3am-9am and lowered the temperature nicely.
Pro tip: washing clothes. The air is so humid that they'll never dry off completely if you just hang them somewhere, make sure you expose them to the sun whenever it's shining.
Lazare took us on a rigorous hike of the island where we ate from the land guanabana fruit (a gigantic one, we quite literally stuffed our faces in it), cocoa, fresh limes and cilantro with a machete clearing our path. We kayaked across the bay for $1 beers and $2 chicken, where the local children found us terribly amusing. Ulrich has constructed an impressive off the grid paradise, which really led us to be conscious of our water and electricity use.
It's a rustic experience, but a unique oasis for the adventurous and sustainability minded.
Keep in mind: you're in the jungle. Expect jungle fauna. Beatles, cockroaches, dragon moths, and yes, even tarantulas (we found one in the house crawling just beside out feet), opossums, and parrots will be part of your daily routine. If you're freaked out by one of them, look for something else. If you don't mind having an authentic tropical jungle experience, then this is definitely the place for you.
Incredibly beautiful. Honestly felt like I was going to get scammed before going because the pictures were just too pretty. Nope, they are accurate.
We were a group of 7 and the Hill House treated us just fine. Lazar and crew helped us set up tours as well. Great time!
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