About this listing
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 or people who want to organize workshops, photo shoots etc...The property can accommodate groups up to 18 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 3 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)
Ok Great, But How Can I Get There?
Travel by Air
There are 1-hour flights from Panamá City's domestic airport (PAC) into Bocas del Toro Airport (BOC). If you fly from Panamá City you will need to go from the international (PTY) to the domestic airport (30-minute taxi ride /$35), unless you fly with AirPanama, which departs from both airports. If you can book a flight from the international airport before 1:30PM you can make it into Bocas del Toro the same day. If you travel from Costa Rica you can book a flight from San José (SJO or SYQ, 1 hour). Take into account that there is also a $28 international departure fee from Costa Rica. Always try to book flights to Bocas del Toro in advance, Skyscanner might help. Once you or your group has arrived at Bocas del Toro airport, which is located on Isla Colón, the Virginia's Dock is a 10-15 minute walk or $1 taxi ride away. There we will happily meet you for the pre-arranged boat pick-up.
Travel by Bus
For an alternate, more cost-effective means of transportation, using the bus system may be the way to go. If you travel from Panamá City you can take a taxi ($35 from the international airport) to the Albrook Bus Terminal. From this terminal (night)buses leave to Almirante, which takes 10-11 hours. Unless it's a national holiday it's unnecessary to book your bus tickets in advance. If you travel from Costa Rica you can save money by taking a bus from San José. You can either take a bus to Changuinola and then take a bus to Almirante, or take a bus to the Sixoala border, do the border crossing procedure by yourself, take a bus to Changuinola and then another bus to Almirante. If you take a bus directly to Changuinola you will be traveling with Transportes Bocatoreños, which departs at 9AM just north of the Coca Cola Bus Terminal in downtown San José in front of the Hotel Cocori. The ride takes about 7 hours, but take into account that the waiting time at the Sixoala border can take a few hours in high season. In Almirante you can take a taxi ($1) to the boat gas station or any other preferred pick-up point where we will be glad to meet you for our boat pick-up.
The Boat Shuttle
The best means for transportation from the mainland to CocoVivo is by boat. When booking with us, you'll be in contact with the host, Lazare, in order to coordinate a pick-up from the nearest dock in the Bocas del Toro province, the Bocas del Toro Airport in Isla Colón or from the bus station in Almirante. The cleaning fee ($70) includes the pick-up and drop-off by boat from one of these locations (30-minute ride).
NOTE: The cleaning fee includes your share in the transportation costs. The rest is covered by us!
- 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.
- 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). Check ECO.
- 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. Check ECO.
Stayed here for a week for our honeymoon and it was the best decision we had ever made. We stayed at all rooms, house and both cabins, and every room we stayed in was comfortable. For the seven days that we were there, it rained for three days and it was still beautiful! Don't worry about rainy season, it is still a magical place with lots of cover! When it was sunny, we saw lots of pretty coral, different kinds of fish, kayaked, snorkeled, SUP, went fishing(far from cabins), wake boarded (upon request) and went to Zapatillas(A MUST!) and it was all AWESOME! If you get a chance to hike, do it, it's so lush and beautiful with great views! Bring bug spray and sunscreen!
Lazare and Jody were the best hosts we could ever imagine. We instantly felt comfortable as soon as we met them. They were so accommodating, funny, GREAT COOKS, gave us privacy but were awesome company. Have them cook for you! Jody made this awesome garlic soup that I still think about until this day and Lazare with his tasty sauces and smoothies! Mmmm! You guys are the best!
We saw Dolphins almost every day so close to the dock! If you go to Panama, COME HERE!!! Thank you, Lazare and Jody, for making our honeymoon an unforgettable one!
What an amazing place! I was planning to stay in the hill house, but when I asked to stay instead in his cute little floating cabin (not pictured) instead, he said no problem and had it ready right away! He and Jody are sweet, helpful hosts and their meals are very tasty. There is gorgeous property to hike around, Dolphin Bay is an easy (hour-ish) kayak trip away, and the coral garden is feet from the dock and makes for good snorkeling. Previous comments are right: this is not like a luxury hotel- be sure you're ok with rainwater showers, little geckos, and bugs. If you are then this jungle experience will be a great one for you.
Lazare and Jodi picked us right up from the airport and made us feel comfortable right away. They helped us get our groceries and then took us to the hut while stopping by dolphin bay where we saw so many dolphins all around our boat. I loved this place with all the wildlife (above and below water), Lazare and Jodi's fantastic cooking, meeting the other people staying in the hut, and feeling like I was truly in a paradise.
I like exploring and seeing new things, so a word to people like me, don't go into the jungle by yourself. Lazare is a great guide and the jungle can be a dangerous place to get lost. Have fun in the hillhouse and look close to see the toucans, sloths, and amazing fish.
Ulrich is such a nice host. He helped us a lot and could understand us well. At the same time, the house is awesome especially making food together with friends and enjoying nice view Caribbean! We miss the jungle life!
This place on Cristobal island was a rustic paradise. This is truly one of airbnbs gems. The two huts are right on the water and with a nice space to lounge around with hammocks and deck chairs. We spent most of our time here.
You are so close to nature. Saw dolphin on our way to the the house from bocas. Serene and beautiful! Pristine waters. Corals right there. Fish swimming under you.
Lazare Jodi and Captain (their friendly dog) were wonderful hosts. Captain would escort us up to the house at night and sometime jump into the water with us. Jodi was an excellent cook and took good care of all fifteen of us. They were very accommodating, we were a group of fifteen so it can't have been easy.
The kayaks paddle boards etc were in perfect working condition. Go with ample amounts of bug spray (we were there during the full moon so the mosquito's were present in full force).
Highly recommend this place.
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.
This host has 116 reviews for other properties.View Other Reviews
About the Host, Ulrich
We're a group of entrepreneurs, scientists and artists who are all about new ideas and innovation, and sharing ideas with others. We go to TED, we co-organize BIL, we start companies, and we clean up space debris.