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“getting away from it all - in style.” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Dolphin Bay Hideaway

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Dolphin Bay Hideaway
Dolphin Bay | Bocatorito, Isla San Cristobal 888 888, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Los Angeles
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“getting away from it all - in style.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2012

We spent 5 nights here in September - and ended up doing fairly little, because the place itself is so soothing. Nothing felt better than reading a book for hours on a hammock on the deck, sipping some coconut water, overlooking the bay....
Yes, the dolphins were missing in action during our stay - but the glowing algae in the water at night made up for that. It was an amazing sight - and definitely a first for me. We stayed in the beautiful bayview room, which is definitely worth the extra dollars. Breakfasts and dinners were great - as well as the conversation with fellow travellers around the table. And Erika is the perfect host: Always available for a chat or background info, but never intrusive. You truly build an amazing place there!

Room Tip: the bayview room is worth the extra 20 dollars - much bigger than the others.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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186 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
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English first
Toronto, Canada
Contributor
19 reviews 19 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 24, 2012

My fiancee and I stayed at Dolphin Bay for 3 nights during the first two weeks of September. Overall, we had a wonderful experience at the B&B. The B&B’s owner Erika was very responsive with e-mails from the get-go and transparent about what to expect before making the booking. As other reviews will attest, the B&B is located in a remote area, completely away from civilization, and I would be surprised if anyone complained because of Erika’s forthright honesty about what to expect from the very beginning.

The property itself is gorgeous. We received good weather over the 3 days, so we were really able to enjoy a lovely sunset/sunrise. There are lots of flowers, tropical plants, and farm animals around the property, which is a joyous opportunity for anyone who loves to take pictures.

We both enjoyed our time ‘away’. The boat ride to get to the B&B is not actually a long one, because we enjoyed taking in the sights and the ethereal beauty of the landscape. We ended up going on 3 activities during our stay – a trip to Zapatilla II, a Chocolate Farm tour, and a trip to the bat caves. The trip to the bat caves was our favourite by far because you get to go through this mysterious mangrove with little animals before you reach the forest that leads down to the caves. Remember to wear a swimsuit, as we weren’t warned that there were water levels in the cave, and we ended up going down and getting drenched.

We never really felt like there was nothing to do. We went on an activity each day and returned to a delicious, healthy dinner prepared by Erika and her staff. We also loved hearing about Erika’s story, and how Dolphin Hideaway came to be. Remember to wear lots of bug spray over dinner (or long-sleeved clothing) because the sand flies can really get at you! Of course this is of no fault of Erika’s. The only negative downside we could find is that we never saw a single dolphin during our entire stay…and the rooster that wakes you up in the morning.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 23, 2012

Spent three nights at Dolphins Bay as part of a nine day trip to Panama. The location was perfect for getting away from everything and chilling out. This isn't the place if you are looking for night life or on your own exploring as you are definitely isolated and a healthy boat ride from Bocas Town. We stayed in the smaller room and found it fine for two people. Everything was clean and well maintained and the bed comfortable. The food was excellent with good variety for dinner and breakfast. Erika was a great host and it is clear she really cares about making sure guests have a good experience. Would highly recommend for travelers looking to spend a relaxing few days in a beautiful and peaceful environment.

  • Stayed September 2012, 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
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Phoenix, Arizona
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2012

The owners Erika & Jose were very gracious & attentive hosts. The room was super clean and comfortable and all of our needs were attended to. The meals were gourmet quality. The rate was excellent considering most meals, drinks, and use of canoes were included. We liked it so much we extended our stay for another night!

Room Tip: All the rooms are good. One room includes separate quarters for children.
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2012, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Llandudno, United Kingdom
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 5, 2012

My girlfriend and I decided to spend 4 nights at dolphin bay hideaway during our 18 night holiday to panama. The overall experience was great, erika looks after the guests well and we would recommend the hideaway to anyone looking to chill out for a day or two and then also explore the local area. The trips we took were great - bat cave was really interesting, horse riding was ok and the walk into the jungle was great. The ability to get up and take the kayak out for a paddle does make the stay enjoyable and if it wasn't avaliable some people may feel a little stranded.

The food was nice and the rooms are very nice, clean and spacious. You can stay in cheaper accommodation but with the breakfast and evening meal included its not massively expensive seeing your at a fantastic location, where my girlfriend and I got engaged.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Barcelona, Spain
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2012

We chose this hotel because of all the good reviews it had received here in Tripadvisor, and although the place was very nice and all we didn't think it lived up to its reputation and that it was not worth its quite high price. The positive impressions: the room was big (we chose a room with ocean view), in the bay right outside the hotel you can see dolphins, the dinner-food at night (included in the price) was very good. The negative impressions: The ocean view was not much of a view to be honest, the hotel is quite far away and there is not much to do right around the hotel, so to see anything you need to take tours organized by the hotel - but at almost double the price from what you would be paying in bocas town, even though 3 alcoholic drinks per night were supposed to be included in the price we found ourselves having to pay 20 dollars extra for our cocktails.

We ended up staying just 2 nights and then opted for another hotel close to Bocas town for a 1/3 of the price.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EIB, Owner at Dolphin Bay Hideaway, responded to this review, August 30, 2012
Thank you for reviewing our small lodge it helps us learn, grow and keep tweaking our operation until we get it perfect :)

This review is clearly the result of a guest not taking the time to read all the information available and choosing without much research. Wile it does hurt to get criticized for something we feel unfair, this also is a great opportunity to further detail what we are and what we are not, so future potential guests can make the right decision weather they should stay here at Dolphin Bay or perhaps a different lodge might be more to they liking and budget.

I am glad you liked our room and meals but i am a bit confused on the complaint about location, excursion cost and your cocktails. Below i will copy and paste what appears clearly on our website so I am not sure how anyone can complain about something clearly stated and that you should have been aware before you even made a reservation.

1. " the hotel is quite far away"
Dolphin Bay Hideaway is located on the shores of Dolphin Bay, in the small village of Bocatorito on the Island of San Cristobal. We are 20 min. boat ride from the town of Bocas Del Toro, So yes, once again we are a "Hideaway" 20 minutes by boat from town. Guests who choose us want to be away from the hustle and bustle of Bocas.

2."even though 3 alcoholic drinks per night were supposed to be included in the price we found ourselves having to pay 20 dollars extra for our cocktails."

Here is what appears on our site:
Rates are per room up to double occupancy and they include:
- a diverse and very filling breakfast and dinner
- beverages including soft drinks, juice, coffee and tee
- beer and/or wine (with a limit of 3 per person per day)
- transportation to and from Bocas on your arrival and departure
- use of our traditional wooden dugout, kayak or canoe
- dolphin watching tour
- wireless Internet access
- all the coconuts you can drink during your stay

Please note that our rates do not include:
- lunch price-range $5 to $7
- mixed and blended drinks price-range $2.50 to $4
- additional beers $1.50 or wine $3
- boat excursions price-range $5 to $75
- taxes 10% of room rate
- gratuities

So again all this info is readily available on the website and we even send it again for the 2nd time in an e-mail when guests write to inquire about availability. And then once again for the 3rd time there are little drink menus with drink costs in the rooms stating that up to 3 beers and wine is included but cocktails and additional beer and wine is NOT.

3.there is not much to do right around the hotel,

Things to do around our lodge for NO additional cost:
Dolphin watching
Canoeing
Photography
Swimming
Bird watching
Walk through the village
Relaxing - Our Rancho over the water provides a perfect spot for spending the day reading, conversing with other guests or just taking naps in one of the many hammock.

4." so to see anything you need to take tours organized by the hotel - but at almost double the price from what you would be paying in bocas town"

I think i have already answered this question once to a previous complaint and i will just put the same info since it explains it all. Detailed activity list with rates and what they include are available to all our guests before they even make a reservation with us.
If you do compare prices you will realize that we are not charging any more then what you would be spending if you went with another operator from town. Our rates might seam a bit higher if you fail to consider that they include park fees , some include lunch, drinks and all equipment. Tours advertised from Bocas town only cover your transportation and not all the added cost involved in your daily excursion. The tour you participated, if i am not mistaking is the one to Zapatilla that we charge $50. This includes $10 Bastimentos national park fee, a cooler full of soft drinks, water, juice and beer and your lunch at the beach.
The tours from Bocas cost $25 only for the transportation, then you still have to pay $10 for the park, and when you stop for lunch at the restaurant your cost per plate is a minimum of $10 and up to $20 plus add something to drink with lunch and your cost will be the same and/or more.
There are maybe two excursions that might cost a bit more from our location simply because we are twice as far from the destination but even then the extra is about $12 per person, which is small change if you consider that you are probably spending thousands of dollars with flights and hotels on your overall vacation. I per say prefer to spend $12 more but have a personalized and exclusive tour with maximum 8 guests on board verses saving $12 and getting stuffed in a shuttle boat with 20 or 30 other travelers.

It is really hard to please everyone and I don't think we will ever be able to cover all tastes and budgets. Dolphin Bay Hideaway has a selective audience and we are quite aware of that.
We strive to offer clean, comfortable, safe lodging, fresh homemade delicious meals and of course great tour destination for guests that want to experience something different from your usual hotel and resort. There are many great places to stay in Bocas and we feel that we are definitely one of them. I hope future guests will make the right decision in choosing the best lodge for their particular needs.
If our small Eco-friendly, family run lodge is the one you choose we will give 100% on our part to make your stay memorable.

Once again Thank you swedish-traveler1! and i wish you happy travels!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Marquette, Michigan
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 24, 2012

August 2011 honeymoon

Dolphin Bay Hideaway was a beautiful way to experience this location of Panama. My husband and I thought it was very relaxing and peaceful. Unfortunately I had gotten sick before arriving and it put a damper on the few days I stayed...however, Erika is wonderful and made sure to help out however she could.

Pros: Comfortable, friendly, home away from home. They brought us to a near by island called Zapitilla and it was gorgeous. Erika packed us a lunch and we were able to lay on the beach - hike around the island and enjoy a nice lunch. We also were able to go and watch for dolphins and snorkeled in the bay...they were very accommodating and made sure I got a chance to photograph a dolphin :) we were very happy with the overall quality of this part of our trip...it is fun to stay at a “bed and breakfast” type location because you are able to talk with the locals who live in the area and learn more about the culture - we appreciated this!

Cons: -- not many at all...none really...

  • Stayed September 2011, 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Dolphin Bay Hideaway

Address: Dolphin Bay | Bocatorito, Isla San Cristobal 888 888, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla San Cristobal
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 B&Bs / Inns in Isla San Cristobal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Private, peaceful hideout surrounded by the beauty of nature ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Dolphin Bay Hideaway Hotel Isla San Cristobal
Dolphin Bay Hideaway Panama/Bocas Del Toro - Isla San Cristobal

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