I spent 4 weeks in March touring the various islands in the Bocas Del Toro archepelago during which I visited numerous eco resorts and lodges. I stayed several days at Starfish Reef Resort which is located on Pastores Island aka Shepherd Island (English translation). The four villas were originally designed and built for resale, not as just rental units for a small resort. Think of these villas as houses that can be rented in whole or in part based upon one's needs and budget. The villas are fully appointed, multiple bathrooms, large kitchen flowing into a large living area. There are multiple bed rooms in each. There is a screened-in porch on the second floor which is the main living area and an additional open deck off the third floor where there are multiple bedrooms. The villas all have air conditioning. These are the best rental villas of the "eco islands" within Bocas Del Toro.
The resort is situated on the leeward side of the island facing the mainland of Panama which is approximately 2 miles across the water. This means that the water off the dock is extremely calm 90% of the time. There is a beautiful shallow reef that surrounds the island and literally drops off in to deeper water right off the dock. So the calm water and 10-15 ft coral wall provides for excellent swimming and snorkeling especially since there is virtually no motor boat traffic, just a few local cayucos paddling by at times. There is also quality fishing off the dock. I caught and released barracuda, jacks and even a bonita (member of the tuna family) without much effort of time. I saw many schools of different fish and bait swimming by including rays as well as various reef species.
Starfish Reef Resort, like the rest of the other small boutique resorts spread out among the "eco islands" of Bocas del Toro, is off the beaten path. You are isolated. There are no other amenities like restaurants, stores or bars which means you need to hire a tour boat to pick you up for touring the area or cruising to Bocas Town for dining, bar hopping or supplies. All of these boutique resorts have this in common. The tours are reasonably priced. Starfish Reef Resort can arrange any such tour.
So if you are looking for a high end villa on a rainforest "eco island", with excellent aquatic entertainment right off the dock, in very quite surroundings Starfish Reef Resort is a perfect choice. Jack and Kelly are excellent hosts. It is very important to read and familiarize yourself with their website so you know what to expect and bring with you.
On a final note, the entire Bocas del Toro area has "bugs" that bite especially the chitras or no seeums as I call them. In fact all of tropical Central America, the Southeast US, Bahamas and Caribbean have these critters. There is nothing unique about the "bugs" on this island. You must be prepared for these everywhere you go or stay. Like any where else there are good days and bad bug days.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Starfish Reef, a Small Caribbean Island Resort and beautiful bature retreat, claims beautiful ocean & mountain views from all 10 hillside Villa rooms, Jungle hiking trails in hill & valley topography, a colorful coral reef, a palm fringed white sand beach, and sand bar rimmed salt water swimming lagoon. All of this amidst a working Cacao (chocolate) plantation interspersed with many mango, coconut, papaya + trees. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Starfish Reef Hotel Bocas Del Toro Province