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“As close as you can get to your own private island” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Popa Paradise Beach Resort

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Popa Paradise Beach Resort
Punta Laurel | Bocas del Toro, Isla Popa, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 1 hotels in Isla Popa
Portland, Oregon
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“As close as you can get to your own private island”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2014

We visited Popa Paradise the first weekend in May and had a fantastic time there. Popa Paradise is an all-inclusive resort on an sparsely populated Island. The hotel managers Dillon and Darion make certain that everyone feels welcomed and are extremely personable and entertaining. We started our journey to the island following a torrential downpour at the dock, delaying the trip about 40 minutes, and then took the boat ride to the island, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, as the boat drove through nothing but mangrones and by seemingly undeveloped islands. Then the boat took a sharp turn and the dock and gorgeous becah came into view. We followed the captain up a paved path to check-in where we were greeted at the door with fresh coconut drinks with a tropical flower in them. Since we came in the off-season, we were upgraded to a casita. The Casita was absolutely charming with all the creature comforts of home (AC if you want it, a fan, a TV, a little fridge, satellite, internet, etc). The deck had a fantastic view of the Jungle, and a couple comfy chairs to relax in. The food was absolutely amazing. Breakfast offered both continental spread, as well as hot food cooked to order. We always had a wide variety of things to choose from for both lunch and dinner and every meal was spot-on. The Wine bar had an excellent selection of wines to choose from, and teh swim-up bar was well stocked. If we were hungry for a snack, the staff was also happy to make up somthing to nosh on. The grounds are just beautiful with pineapple plants, tropical flowers, palm trees dispersed heavily amongst the landscape. Tours are available with their on-site guide and I reccomend taking a few. We did the zipline tour at Red Frog Beach and had a blast, and we also spent a day in Bocas browsing amongst the shops. I spent most of my time by the pool, which was paradise on earth, perfect temp, a swim up bar, quiet and relaxing, with comfy lounges surrounding it. We stayed for 4 nights and I'm still dreaming of a return trip.

Room Tip: This is an amazing place, but keep in mind it's also a self-sustaining eco resort. If you are e...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 24, 2014
Many thanks for your great review. We are so pleased you have an outstanding vacation with us and look forward to welcoming you back to paradise.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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124 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
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English first
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2014

My husband and I stayed 4 days, June 8-11, and we had a wonderful experience. I would say "stay" as is used in hotel reviews; however, "experience" seems to fit! We arrived on air Panama, were met by a representative who took us directly to the boat, and Nash then zoomed us across the beautiful water (very calm), to Isla Popa. As we rode along in the boat, we saw beautiful pelicans and parrots, fish jumping, and many locals enjoying a day of fishing. As we rounded the corner to the dock at Popa Paradise, my husband and I both just grinned ear-to-ear! It is positively beautiful! We then headed up to the lobby to check in and were greeted very warmly by Nicole and Matty. We were immediately given a fresh coconut to drink (delightful!) and then got settled into casita 4, which is closest to the clubhouse and pool area. We found it to be just lovely and convenient to simply walk a few steps to get our morning coffee in the clubhouse. After getting settled in, we walked the grounds and were just amazed at the construction of such a beautiful place--in a jungle/rainforest on a remote island!! Popa Paradise is an eco-lodge; yet, the layout of the property and the service delivery is that of a 5-star resort. Within a few moments of our arrival, I met the "four-legged" members of the Popa staff: Thiago and Luca, the two resident beagles and Mimi and Georgie, the two resident cats. It was wonderful to have the ability to play with "critters" while on vacation, as I missed my own animals very much. Thiago, especially, is just a happy little beagle who seems to be the four-legged ambassador for all the guests! One thing my husband wanted to ensure that we put in our review is that the staff knows how to anticipate your needs--and they are incredibly perceptive about identifying when you want private, quiet time. We loved spending time at the bar, enjoying the various libations that Nicole made for us with fresh pineapple and mangos, listening to great music, and bantering Handre and Bev, and rest of the staff. Yet, when we wanted to tuck away on a chaise lounge to get back into our books, they instantly recognized this. As a former hospitality industry professional and current road warrior/Hilton Hhonors Diamond member, I consider myself a good judge of service professionals. The staff at Popa can easily teach the big, global service brands a thing or two about service delivery! Dyllan, the GM, sets expectations for the service delivery and provides excellent leadership to the staff. So the execution is there--from sunup to sundown. Darion is an absolute delight with his great sense of humor and zest for life! He also ensured that things were running smoothly each day. Handre arranged for us to go scuba diving one day, through LaBuga in BocasTown, which was fantastic. And, last but certainly not least, we have to acknowledge Matt for his culinary talents that never ceased to amaze us! We enjoyed delicious meals, ranging from a fantastic lunch consisting of a mahi-mahi sandwich with fries to dinners of seafood prepared with a local Panamanian sauce (wow!!), filet mignon, and an Asian-fusion dish one evening. Lobsters were not in season this time of year, but we hardly noticed since we enjoyed everything else so much! This resort is exactly as described in the brochure: "bare-foot luxury." So, with that said, ladies leave your hair dryers, flat irons and your usual footwear at home. The walking paths are all smooth concrete, but some are steep heading down to the beach. Bring a few pairs of flip flops and nicer sandals for evening time. It is humid (it's the tropics...), so bring hair clips or pins. My favorite article of clothing was a pair of loose-fitting linen pants. I wished I had brought more of them! The pants kept the mosquitoes from biting my legs. However, you must bring bug spray, particularly the time of year (June) and definitely bring anti-itch cream/gel. Other items we advise you to bring: a lightweight raincoat, small umbrella, sunscreen, and caps/hats for lounging by the pool, and a long-sleeve sweater/sweatshirt as the a/c units are very powerful and you may find it chilly in the casita with the a/c running. With that said, the casitas are very pretty, have a refrigerator stocked with water each day, and are very clean. The moment we went to breakfast, the housekeeper was in our casita tidying up. The resort does have wi-fi connectivity, satellite TV with quite a lot of channels, and they are continually improving the connectivity. However, even with the access there--we didn't want it! The gorgeous surroundings just cause you to forget about the rest of the world--at least for a little while!
My husband Ken and I will definitely be back, and we've already recommended Popa Paradise to several of our friends! Thank you Dyllan, Darion, Nicole, Matty, Handre, Bev, Thiago, Luca, Mimi, Georgie, and all the other staff members for a positively amazing experience!

Room Tip: Casita 4 is closest to the clubhouse.
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 16, 2014
Wow, many thanks for your outstanding review and your very kind words. It was such a pleasure meeting you and we are so pleased you have a great vacation with us. We look forward to welcoming our new friends back to paradise soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Savannah, Georgia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 13, 2014

My wife and I visited Popa Paradise in mid April and I spend time daydreaming about going back. It is an adventure to get there and that is a portion of the joy we found there. Dylan, Darion, Handre and each person employed at Popa Paradise welcomed and served us with obvious enthusiasm and care. We felt more like we were visiting a beautiful mansion with attentive hosts. Do not look for the disco or slot machines. We had a TV however the nature show and natural beauty crowded out any desire to do anything but ooh and ahhh out in the environs.
I could not wait for the evening GONG because the food and drink that it alerted us to tasted deliciously with a beautiful presentation.
Dylan and all care deeply about the environment and the original residents of the island. The soap is made there by the local people as a way to creatively partner together. He gave me a bar to take home with me. It smells too good to use. The flora and fauna around the beautiful grounds are designed and cared for in an unobtrusive manner.
Make certain the Nash and Handre take you for snorkeling and dolphin watching. They know their stuff and will do all in there power to personally care for your safe and adventurous time.
The pool is tastefully designed. I had a little green frog sit on my head while in the pool on the last day.
We love kids. This place does not want children staying on property and for me, this time, that requirement added enjoyment.
Do not miss the Friday night beach buffet at Rosie's. I won't spoil the the surprise by reporting this event.
We went for a vacation and ended up with friends in paradise.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 14, 2014
Many thanks for your very kind works and your great review. We are so pleased you enjoyed your stay with us and we look forward to seeing you back in paradise soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2014

We stayed at Popa Paradise in May of 2014. I cannot say enough good things about this place.
The location is gorgeous, on an island off the coast of Bocas del Toro. It is a bit of an adventure to get to as you have to fly to the small Bocas airport and then take a van to a dock and a 30 minute boat ride to the property’s dock, but everything is provided for by management so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
We were greeted by the wonderful General Manager with coconut drinks in hand and a tour of the beautiful property and grounds. Our room (casita 6) was up on a little cliff facing the ocean very close to the beach, which was very lovely. The bed was very comfortable and the room is air conditioned, although we enjoyed the sea breeze coming in through the huge balcony.
The food is absolutely superb and abundant. We had something different to eat every day, and the setting for our meals could not have been better by the pool and beautiful lush gardens.
The lovely folks who work and manage the hotel are so nice and friendly, it feels like you’re hanging out at friends’ (very awesome) house by the beach.
We went on a tour of the jungle around the grounds with a wonderful local guide; you step 15 feet away from the property and are immersed in a pristine rainforest, complete with creeks and huge jungle trees. Unfortunately it was raining (it is after all a rainforest) so most wildlife was away though we did see interesting insects and wonderful vegetation.
We also went on a snorkeling trip which was the highlight of our stay. The amount of sea critters that we saw was truly astonishing. The water was crystal clear and warm and the fish and other wildlife were completely unafraid of people. We stretched out our hands and could almost touch them (some of them were bold enough to try to take little nips at us if we got too close to their home!). We saw gorgeous corals, spider crabs, anemones, gigantic sea urchins, all manner of fish in all colors, sizes and varieties, sea stars, etc. It was a short boat ride and the hotel provides all snorkeling gear (I recommend taking rash guards in case of jellyfish although the ones that were present were tiny and we could barely feel their sting).
I loved how the hotel is also conscious about the environment while still managing to offer all the comforts of home. They had rainwater available for drinking (I just refilled my one water bottle throughout my stay for the most part, I recommend you do the same).
All in all I would whole-heartedly recommend Popa Paradise to anybody looking for a place to really unwind and relax.

Room Tip: Definitely go with the Casitas! Casita 6 is on a cliff by the beach and seems secluded, although the...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 14, 2014
Many thanks for your great review and your kind words. It was our pleasure meeting you and look forward to seeing you back in paradise soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 9, 2014

We stayed at Popa Paradise for our honeymoon last week and we absolutely couldn't believe how great this place is. We decided early that we wanted to honeymoon in Bocas del Toro, but then struggled to find the right hotel. We were looking for something off the beaten path, with great food (but also flexible to our largely vegan diet), easy beach access, and top notch service, all with a laid back atmosphere. Impossible? Maybe at other Bocas resorts, but not at Popa! First, you will never run out of things to do. Whether it's excursions to other islands or parks, waterskiing through the mangroves, kayaking around the beautiful island, or simply snoozing by the pool with a drink, we never got bored. Second, the food is out of this world. Chef Matty (Maddy?) has some serious chops in the kitchen. Every day dinner is something new and exciting, there are several options (or the "can you make me ____ instead?" option), and all of it is presented beautifully. Much of the food is grown on the property, so you just can't beat the quality. Third, the staff expertly walks the thin line of being both relaxed/friendly and professional/attentive. They became our friends. Not only because anyone who serves me a cocktail at 11am while I read by the pool is automatically considered a friend; also because they were just so pleasant to be around.

My only caution about Popa is that this kind of vacation is not for everyone. If seeing the occasional little island lizard or ant in your casita will ruin your day, you should probably not vacation in Bocas, because with the amount of wildlife around these islands, that is inevitable no matter how nice and clean the rooms are. Same thing for those who vacation strictly for nightlife. Going to the Bocas Town bars from Popa at night is not possible except for emergencies because it is not safe for the boats to make that trek in the dark. Those were of no consequence to us though; we had plenty of fun with the great people we met during our stay.

We heartily recommend this resort and we cannot wait to come back! Thank you for such a dazzling vacation!

Room Tip: Casita 9 was where we stayed and I think we'd choose that one again. It was not directly on the...
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  • Stayed June 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 14, 2014
Many thanks for your great review. we are so pleased you had an outstanding honeymoon at Popa Paradise. We look forward to welcoming you back to paradise real soon.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Francisco
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 2, 2014

My husband and I spent 3 nights here and begged for one more but they were already booked up and no wonder: the degree of service here is impeccable, and the grounds are lovely. We had the luck to score the casita right near the water and were here at a time with at most 4 other guests so we had effectively our own private beach for a few days. When it rained, we donned rubber boots and coats (from the amply-supplied gear closet) to go exploring. When we were hungry, we were fed gourmet meals by Matty, an accomplished chef who sources lots of his ingredients from the island itself (=fresh). When we wanted a drink, we swam up to the pool bar.

In short, when we wanted anything, we got it. That's Popa.

Room Tip: we got a casita near the ocean and it lulled us to sleep every night
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 4, 2014
Many thanks for your great review. We are so pleased you enjoyed your stay with us and look forward to welcoming you back to paradise soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bronx, New York
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 29, 2014

My husband and I recently stayed at Popa for our honeymoon. The hotel's location is a beautiful paradise about 40 mins away from Bocas town. We felt as if we were staying at an extended family member's home but with the luxuries of a big resort. Everyone knew our name, kept us well feed, and helped us book activities off the island. At times, it felt as if we were on our own secluded island, which made for a very romantic honeymoon. The pool is amazing, the beach is clean and uncrowded, and the staff is friendly and very fun! This hotel is very special and won't disappoint!

  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dyllan M, General Manager at Popa Paradise Beach Resort, responded to this review, June 4, 2014
We are so pleased you enjoyed your honeymoon at Popa Paradise! Many thanks for the great review, hope to see you back here for many anniversaries.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Popa Paradise Beach Resort

Address: Punta Laurel | Bocas del Toro, Isla Popa, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Popa
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 hotels in Isla Popa
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Popa Paradise Beach Resort is located on a stunning island called Isla Popa in the Bocas del Toro archipelago. off the Panamanian coast in the Caribbean Sea. We are located about 30 minutes away from Bocas del Toro by boat. Stay with us for an unforgettable vacation where you can relax, snorkel in beautiful clear water and visit the amazing outer islands. Our chef Darion creates a spectacular, tasty, unique and healthy menu and can cater to vegetarians and vegans which is all included in our all inclusive rate. We have a large range of activities and excursions from diving, fishing, zip lines to the spectacular Zapatilla islands marine park or simply relax by our swimming pool and enjoy a Popa Paradise cocktail at our swim up bar, enjoy a massage on the spa or take a walk on one of our stunning beaches. Our new beach bar and restaurant "Rosie's" is great for cool drinks on the beach all day and at night beach BBQs, bonfires, live music and fire dancing under the stars. Our dedicated team of professionals will take care of your every need and ensure you have a memorable stay at our boutique resort. We look forward to meeting you at Popa Paradise - barefoot luxury in paradise! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Popa Paradise Beach Hotel Isla Popa
Popa Paradise Beach Isla

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