About This Listing
Welcome to our Tropical Island Paradise on the Southern tip of Isla San Cristobal in the Bocas Del Toro Archipelago. The island has no roads and no mains electricity but we support ourselves with solar panels, a backup generator and a rainwater collection system.
You'll be staying in The Reef Cabin, perched above the island's coastal coral reef. The cabin sleeps 2 people in our deluxe king size bed. The room offers a rustic experience with low cane walls and curtains for your privacy. The sea breeze will make you forget about air conditioning, sometimes you even need to use the blanket to keep warm. There is also a fan if you are feeling the Panamanian heat! This is the room for those who want to be one with nature but still love their space and a big comfy bed!
The area above the reef also has a second bookable bedroom, a common kitchen, hammocks, swing chairs and sun loungers. The second room is a little smaller and is the one with its own diving board into the ocean below and a queen size bed. This is a room for the true adventurers who want reasonable comfort! If you are more than 2 persons (upon availability) or you want more privacy, it is possible to book both cabins for more exclusivity (ask for a quote). All guests at the Finca do have use of the common dock (also if you book both rooms) and the excellently equipped kitchen can be shared with guests staying in the other cabin (unless you are booking both rooms). Note: self catering is possible, but seen our location stocking up is quite a mission. Therefore we offer deliciously prepared meals for our guest on request: breakfast 8usd pp, lunch 10usd pp and dinner 15usd pp.
Beneath you, there is lots of aquamarine life: big starfish, big fish, small fish, dolphins (see them during the day, hear them at night), amazing coral and magical bioluminescence in the water at night!
There is a freshwater shower (biodegradable soap only, please!) at the cabin, and the composting toilet is a 2 minute walk away. The kitchen offers fantastic sea views. Here you are literally cooking on the water. There is also a BBQ available for use.
As mentioned, a large deck around the Reef Cabin is open to all guests for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, or relaxing in a hammock. As well as the 2 cabins on the water there is also a house on the hill which may contain other guests. The hill house has its own kitchen, bathroom and relaxation areas and can accommodate up to 12 people: Bookings for larger groups (up to 14 people) are possible via:
Right across from the reef cabin, about 250 ft. away, our local caretaker has a cabin on the water. This won't affect your space or privacy. There are miles of jungle hiking all around the property and island.
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 5 minute boat ride (or half an hour kayak or an hour swim :-)) takes you across the bay where you can buy (limited!) extra supplies from a local shop or a local organic Indian farm or even a remote Pizza restaurant which is open on Friday and Sunday and offers a great opportunity to meet locals and expats in a great atmosphere. Another local Afro-Caribbean restaurant offers simple daily meals (fried chicken) or if you order on time they cook on demand (rice, beans, chicken and freshly caught fish).
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 sunscreen, 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. (This also means: sorry, but no, you can't keep all the beer cold all of the time.) The Internet is fast and reliable — but it does go down on occasion.
WEAR BUG PROTECTION: Generally there are less bugs and mosquitos on the dock than inland. Around dusk and dawn chitras (sand fleas or no-see-ums) might show up. Mostly this lasts not longer than half an hour and they are more perseverant when it's wind still. In that case, hide inside and close doors and curtains or use a strong repellent, because their bites are annoying. In bed and in the kitchen you won't be bothered. We use chitraproof netting.
If this still sounds awesome, come check this out! We will pick you up, and make sure you have what you need to enjoy your stay.
!!! 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. ($50/person, whole day, tour discount as from 3 persons)
• BOAT TRIP TO THE CHIRIQUI LAGOON: visit the island Loma Partida, go upriver on the mainland and meet local Ngobe Indians. On the river there’s even a chance to spot manatees. ($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 ($5 to $15/person, including boat ride)
• OTHER TOURS: upon request
• MEALS upon request: breakfast 8usd pp, lunch 12 pp, dinner 15pp. Only fresh and mostly local ingredients, prepared with love!
Take in account that the cleaning fee (70 dollar) includes pick up and drop off (in Bocas Town or Almirante).
If you feel comfortable in nature and remoteness, come and check this place out for an unforgettable experience.
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 150hp and capacity of 18 people.
You're welcome to use any of the toys (kayaks, snorkeling gear, SUP) 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.
This place was amazing and is not to be missed. Lazare and Jodi were wonderful hosts and great to talk to. The pick up, drop off was seamless and it was very easy to contact the hosts by email prior to the trip. They also cooked for us and the food was incredible. We are still talking about the chocolate desert that Lazare made one evening. The cabin is great but the hosts really push it over the top. The snorkeling, kayaking and hammock swinging are all top notch. We stayed in the main room at the reef cabin and it was a very comfortable bed with mosquito netting. It really is a special place and if you have the opportunity to visit you should jump on it. We hope we meet Lazare and Jodi again! - Mike and Karyn
We had an amazing time staying at the island reef cabin. There were 3 of us so we rented both rooms and had the whole house to ourselves, which we loved. Lazare and Jodi were super chill and fun to hang out with. We had them cook dinner for us two nights and it was delicious. Their dog, Capitan, is great and stayed at the house with us, sleeping on the deck at night. As three girls traveling alone this was really comforting - he would even walk us to the outhouse, stand guard, and walk us back.
This was the best snorkeling that I've ever experienced and the house was right in the middle of it. It was wonderful to just jump off the side of the house and see huge starfish, sea urchins, sea slugs, huge fish, jellyfish, etc. The water is bioluminescent, so you definitely need to go swimming at night to experience the magic.
Leo, the caretaker living in one of the houses on the land, would bring us fresh coconuts or fruit from the land - he was very sweet, as is his little boy.
The only thing I regret was overpacking clothing and not bringing enough food! You really only need a swimsuit and a pair of shorts and a couple of shirts. The house is very isolated, but we didn't feel the need to leave except for one beach day. Definitely bring a flashlight (I think there are some in the house but it was nice to have my own).
Regarding food - Jodi and Lazare will cook any meal for you but we regretted not bringing more for lunches and snacks. The kitchen is really well stocked so don't worry about oil, salt, spices, etc. Oh and they let us buy more beer from them which was essential!
Overall this is one of the best trips my friends and I have taken together, and we travel together often. Highly recommend!
Magical. Best word to describe my first thought upon arrival. I can't say enough good about our 2 nights at the Reef Cabin.
From the beginning boat transfer with Leo to being dropped back off in Bocas very thing was relaxing and easy.
The accommodation is exactly as pictured but even better. There is ample gear for water activities, the diving board is a great way to spend an afternoon (much higher than you think) and the reef is full of life and is literally right below your bedroom.
Kitchen is well stock is you are into cooking but the food made by Jody and Lazare is a much better option. We had lunch made for us one day ... tuna tartare, homemade humus, grilled fish with fries and onion rings - 5* dining!
The shower works perfectly and bathroom (composting toilet) is a short walk away.
Everything you need to unwind, relax and be in awe is at your fingertips
And lastly the wonderful Capitan! He really is the master of the house and will keep you company through the day and keep guard at night (he likes to accompany you to the bathroom ... if you have to go in the middle of the night).
We highly recommend staying at the Tropical Island Reef Cabin!
Tanya and Ryan
This was a trip of a lifetime for an amazing area fantastic people beautiful host my experience was beyond my expectations. The setting was unbelievable with dolphins swimming ahead of us while in the kitchen and when all I needed to do to see the fish was look out the cabin windows. Our host did everything possible to accommodate us throughout our stay. This is not a trip for everyone as this is a very remote location and some conveniences must be forfeited but those that can't will be missing out on a true gem of an experience.
This place is exactly as described and it was awesome! The tropical island reef cabin is definitely not for the faint of heart. If you're used to staying in 5 star hotels you will not have fun here. There are definitely critters everywhere (little tiny lizards and crabs) that hang out with you in the open air kitchen and on the dock. No critters to speak of in the bedroom which has netting to keep you safe anyway. The bugs got to my girlfriend, so if you're averse to bug bites or can't handle it, maybe go somewhere else. Personally, I loved the place and wish I could've stayed for a month. The island is amazing and offers some great hiking, and the general ambience of the hut is just so relaxing and awesome. Great snorkeling eith fins and masks they have off the dock, kayaks, a paddle board, and a awesome high diving board.
There is only so much you can say in a review, but if you're into adventure and you've been camping and didn't hate it, go check it out. Totally cool. Also, bring food to cook... There's nothing like cooking in a kitchen that has open air windows on all sides looking out on the ocean.
Lazare is the caretaker and he's cool. He'll be around and can help you out with anything you need.
Finally, if you are afraid of pooping in an outhouse, stay home.
Staying at the reef cabin was one of the best experiences of my life. I've done a lot of traveling and this is at the top. There is just something so magical about being there. The snorkeling, kayaking, stand up paddle board, diving board and all the available hiking...it made the days fly by. Everything was at your own pace. The meals Lazare and Jody cooked were fantastic. Every single one of them. The reefs around the cabin are so colorful and full of life. We saw tons of fish, an octopus, manta rays, a sting ray, dolphins, sea urchins. It was all so peaceful down there.
And they have wifi! Better than the wifi I have in a big city.
I read most of the reviews before booking and I have to say, the bugs are really not an issue. The compost toilet is what made me nervous, but it's not bad! They have it in it's own room with a sink. It feels like a regular bathroom.
Lazare and Jody are so welcoming and fun to be around. The atmosphere couldn't be more laid back. I have nothing but great things to say about my stay here. I plan on coming back very soon!
Lazare and Jody were very friendly and offered many suggestions of how to get the most out of our stay. They were always available if we needed anything. It was me and my brother and we had the cabins over the dock for 5 nights. The meals were just awesome! Leo the caretaker was also great. This is rural setting and experience and was the best part of our 2 week trip to Panama.
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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.