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.
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!
Other Things to Note
Business group? Check our Hill House offer: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/326033
- 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. really bad idea.
AMAZING PLACE! It was like being in paradise. We stayed for three days and enjoyed every moment. We made couple of trips to Jungle with Lazare (big thank to him for the walks) and and saw some poison-dart frogs and other wildlife. Great snorkelling directly from the cabin. We went for couple of trips with kayak. One time dolphins accompanied us for around half an hour. On the other trip we visit chocolate farm around 1 hour away by kayak. We would really recommend visiting the farm. We had breakfasts and dinners prepared by Jody and Lazare and the food was excellent. Really worth it. The description of the cabin is acurate. There is plenty of snorkeling gear, kayaks, SUP-boards. The internet connection is fast and reliable. Once in a lifetime experiance. Last but not least, the dogs (especially Capitan) will make you feel safe 24/7. :)
What an amazing place to visit! After traveling all day and arriving later than expected in Isla Colon, Lazare was more than patient and accommodating to help us get situated. We opted to buy our own groceries before riding out to the cabin, and there are no shortages of food and drink options on the main island. The cabin was beautiful and fully equip with every toy you could dream up- snorkeling and some fishing gear, kayaks (and a really strong wifi connection ;)) Their dogs, especially Captain, were so very friendly and protective over us and the cabin. It was lovely having them as little guides hiking through the jungle, too!
I only have good things to say about this place, and it was by far my favorite stop while traveling through Panama and Costa Rica!
The tropical cabin reef is a magical place to visit. If your idea of vacation is paddling on still water, snorkelling from your bedroom onto a reef filled with sea creatures, and enjoying fresh coconuts, this is the place for you. All of the hosts including the beloved canine companions go above about beyond to ensure you have the best experience. It's in an isolated spot away from the bustle of Bocas Del Toro. The kitchen is super well equipped---even with a blender! The experience is somewhat close to GLAMPING which is exactly what were were seeking for this getaway.
This is a very beautiful house and location, however we were woken by the dogs barking at boats at 6:00 every morning and when we went down to quiet them (they stay with you, not up at the main house with the owners) there was multiple dog poo's (there are three dogs) on the deck and in the kitchen. It could also be a lot cleaner for the price per night and considering the expensive cleaning fee.
Tegan, thanks for your feedback. Allow me to give you a little feedback on our -'expensive' cleaning fee (like it is clearly mentioned in our add it is a transportation fee and only a participation in gas for the boat transportation). We charge 70usd for a remote boat drive for your flexible pick up and drop off in town. This costs us in gas only 80usd. As you notified us too late on the day of your arrival, we had to organize another drive for you, leaving us paying 120usd gas only in total. I am not taking in consideration the boat write off, the fact we had to wait more than 3 hours for you without notification, our sound system that was left outside on a rainy night and broke down, and the compensation I gave you for not being able to stay on the first night (where I showed the good will to reimburse, according to airbnb policy I was not supposed to do that. If you take the risk to link an international flight to a remote stay on the same day, things can get tricky. I just tried to empathize with your situation. That you wanted me to reimburse for your part of the airbnb fees as well was your extra bonus. So no offense here but your stay was expensive to us. We aim for a break even scenario with our rentals, not profit. Our operational costs are very high. That comes with a remote place and organizing her logistics. Guests help us realizing this break even scenario and we and our local staff are very grateful for that. If we had to make arrangements like this for just a few guests in a role, we would be totally ready to shut down the place. As far as the cleanliness. It's an open environment in the middle of the jungle. We keep it as clean as we can. Some feedback from the housekeeper after hosting more than 600 happy guests? Allow me to use her words here: 'the biggest mess left ever by any guests by far'. Maybe because you were assuming you paid too much for a cleaning fee? As for the dogs: well, you may or may not have noticed, but the kitchen has a door that closes and the dock entrance has a gate. So you were not forced into the presence of the puppies (they still are puppies and every puppy goes through an educational process) and if you had communicated this matter openly to us, it could have easily been solved without any deprivation of sleep or pooh cleaning.
We stayed in the reef cabin for two nights, and it was the highlight of our entire trip! Lazare and his wife were incredibly kind and accommodating. There is always fresh fruit to eat in the kitchen or you're able to pick some yourself if you go for a walk. The food is amazing and there's always more then enough, we brought snacks for the day time but didn't eat them because of all the fruit. Make sure to go for a night swim with all the lights off and swim in the bioluminescent plankton! This is probably the best place to see it in Bocas because there is no light pollution. I can't wait to go back!
How can you describe paradise? Gorgeous sunrise and sunsets off the water, immense forests sounds echoing all around, and tropical wildlife steps from your door? Then this cabin is indeed paradise. The coral was magnificent. Each day jumping the water held new treasures. From kayaking to hiking the activities were a plenty - or you can just enjoy the beauty from a hammock while petting the world's coolest dog. Either way you'll be grateful you came.
Wow! Incredible! Amazing! A must do! We planned on staying two nights but ended up there three and if we could have stayed longer we would have. Lazare and Jody the hosts are so warm, welcoming and the are made of positive and vibrant souls. The food is to die for! Every time we ate we were drooling over the food! Eat there if you can. The reef is literally directly off the dock (with snorkels, masks and flippers at your fingertips). Kayaks available to ride! Also, there is a possibility of seeing Dolphins (and hearing them at night). The dogs are also so fun to be around. Cheers to Lazare, Jody, and the dogs!
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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.