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“Best kept secret in Panama” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Boca Brava

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Hotel Boca Brava
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Boca Chica | Boca Brava Gulfo de Chirique, Isla Boca Brava, Panama   |  
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Philadelphia, PA
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
38 helpful votes 38 helpful votes
“Best kept secret in Panama”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 11, 2010

My husband and I had planned to finish our trip through Panama with ten days in Bocas. When we couldn't take the rain nor hustlers any longer I started calling around on the Pacific Coast. When talking to folks at the Purple House in David, I got a number for Boca Brava. They accomodated me with a day's notice. We took a water taxi from Bocas to Almirante, a collectivo to David, and then got a cab for $40 total to the water taxi dock at Boca Chica. You can take a bus to Horconcitos but you may have to wait for awhile until a cab comes by. We didn't want to potentially lose time so the taxi was well worth it to us.

We heard some folks say that they'd heard bad experiences. Boca Brava is under NEW management and they're great! There are only two other places to stay in Boca Brava/Boca Chica. I checked them out to see about a dinner and both were LAME! They're both fishing lodges that are over priced and the food was no good!

The water taxi across the water cost about $2. Boca Brava is WONDERFUL! By far, the BEST staff I encountered throughout Panama. Victor, the manager, has a wealth of information! The entire staff are locals from either Boca Chica or David and very knowledgeable of their home. It's also a great place to practice Spanish. In Bocas and Boquete you may hear more English than Spanish. In Boca Brava you'll be able to converse with local Panamanians. Plus, other travellers tend to be German than American so that can add to Spanish being the common denominator. We were there at Carnivale, so the majority of the travellers became Panamanians escaping the city. It was very cool to holiday where locals do.

We had a $33 a night room with a shared bath. It was very plain, but did the job. This was also the only place in Panama where we saw significant amounts of wild life! If you got up at dawn, or were wandering around at dusk, you were pretty much guaranteed to see howlers. While eating breakfast most mornings we watched dolphins leaping.

The gulf of Chiriqui is amazing! Plus, many people who are sailing around the world constantly dock in the cove by the hotel. That means on any given night you may wind up exchanging travel stories with folks fresh from Carnivale in Granada or headed out to Fiji. Really interesting place to be!

The land is beautiful! There are hiking trails throughout the island that give you amazing views of the sea and jungle. There are several small beaches. They're not the most beautiful in Panama with brown sound and lots of rocks, but they're so great to pass a day reading, dozing, and swimming. Some are so calm you can swim laps!

If you want, any of the local fisherman will take you on tours of the various islands in the archipelago. They'll take you whereever is best that day to snorkel. We arranged a day trip through Victor for $40. We went snorkeling in coral before heading to a powder white sand beach where we saw enormous starfish, dolphins, and more. There the surf was swimmable, but stronger. We found a cave on the beach where you could ride the tide. So much fun!

I really wanted to go to Isla de Coiba but you're 3 hours away by boat. The owners were great in not misleading me. They reccomended going to Santa Catalina as a base for Coiba. They're also considering a boat transport to and from Santa Catalina. I WOULD LOVE that and hope they do! Another possibility in the future: Spanish language and yoga classes.

The restaurant is the ONLY place to eat. That was my only down side. On my birthday I wanted a really good vegetarian meal. My veggie food thus far had been good, but I was on my fourth day of it. I would like a little more veggie variety, but that said, there was more than enough. And, I had some of the best green salads there. Their cajun yucca fries were also amazing! Plus, we met so many great people. Most nights were playing cards, watching monkeys, and great conversation.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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153 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (23)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2010

Husband and I stayed here 2 nights and wished we had more time. Boat dock arrival leads to steep, bamboo accented steps to the main structure housing restaurant, bar and open air decks overlooking jungle and ocean. Comfy hammocks abound. Under new, motivated ownership, a well-traveled American couple has made improvements to what sounded like a run-down place. The locally employed staff was friendly, seemed well treated and willing to speak slow Spanish for my limited linguistics. Hugs all the way around upon our leaving. Restaurant service was prompt and the food tasty with full bar available. Try the fish with garlic and vegetables. The beds were comfy in our large air-conditioned room (though some rooms are not conditioned). The sheets were new and our balcony in the jungle relaxing. Hot water, walk in shower, in our large clean bathroom. The island itself has a number of jungle trails. We had a whole troup of monkeys cross right over our heads and little quiet beaches to relax and take a swim. Snorkel tours are offered. Our only slight bummer was the nearby town, Boca Chica, had basically nothing to offer. Overall, come here for food, relaxation, hiking, outdoors. If taking the bus from Panama City, get off at the Horconcitos stop, 45 minutes East of David. Taxi to Boca Chica and water taxi to Boca Brava. Definitely a place to watch as the owners are likely to add on features.

  • Stayed February 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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.
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Additional Information about Hotel Boca Brava

Address: Boca Chica | Boca Brava Gulfo de Chirique, Isla Boca Brava, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Chiriqui Province > Isla Boca Brava
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Boca Brava
Number of rooms: 15
Also Known As:
Hotel Boca Brava Panama/Isla Boca Brava

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