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“Yes, you can get away from it all just 30 minutes outside Bocas...” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Bluff Beach Retreat

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Bluff Beach Retreat
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Playa Bluff, Isla Colon, Panama   |  
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Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Special Offer
Guided Horseback Ride
Ranked #2 of 36 Isla Colon B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Los Angeles
Level Contributor
20 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Yes, you can get away from it all just 30 minutes outside Bocas...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 26, 2012

Bluff Beach Retreat is a secluded property that can accommodate seven couples at the most, and it is located right on one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. It is stunning: Super-fine sand, and miles to walk in either direction. “Where is everybody?” I wonder, since there is nobody else to be seen. We have the entire beach to ourselves. The Retreat also offers an Olympic size (saltwater) pool on its tropical grounds, though, and whenever we enjoy its tranquil waters, we get to listen to an impressive concert of parrots, howler monkeys and other exotic animals in the jungle. Floating in the pool at dusk, I watch an increasing number of bats in the darkening skies, honing in on their insect prey with unbeatable precision. The only thing I do not like about Bluff Beach is that we are only here for three nights...
The caretakers Steve and Karen were absolutely great and went out of their way to accommodate us. Unfortunately, both restaurants in the vicinity were closed during our stay, but somehow we managed to always shop for food or catch a ride to the closest beach bar, a 45 minute walk away. Logistics would have been a little easier, though, if there would have been some kind of dinner offering at the retreat. (Breakfasts were wonderful and filling.) Originally, I was a little concerned about the detailed house policies emailed to me before booking, as well as the $ 100 security deposit. This turned out to be no issue at all - Ron credited the deposit back to us within days after our stay, and after seeing the property I could understand the concern for keeping it as beautiful as it is. This might not be the place for people who look for luxurious accommodation. The furnishings of the rooms are simple and practical - but the surroundings (location, beach, pool, garden, common areas) are stunningly beautiful. I am almost hesitant to write a review about the retreat, because Bluff Beach should stay a well kept secret!

Room Tip: If you are a couple looking for privacy, the honeymoon house is the nicest.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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181 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 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 (37)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2012 via mobile

We couldn't ask for a more beautiful location for a vacation spot. The beach house is amazing being open air with an awesome view and sound of the ocean. The water was a little rough during our stay but the wonderful pool really made up for it. Our caretakers Steve and Karen where very friendly and very helpful. They helped us book our daily excursions, gave us tips on what to do, and Steve makes the best coffee I've ever tasted. Cassius, the resident German boxer, is adorable and super friendly. The included breakfast every morning was the cherry on top. I highly recommend The Bluff Beach Retreat!

  • Stayed September 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 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.
Minneapolis
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 7, 2012

I'm going to go ahead and start by saying that I had been wanting to visit Bluff Beach Retreat (BBR) for at least 6 years. One night I was randomly browsing vacation properties and came across BBR. Upon becoming engaged to my now wife, I made the decision that we were going to Bocas and staying at BBR!

My wife and I arrived at the Bocas airport in the afternoon and we were picked up by Steve ( the awesome caretaker while Ron is away). Steve took us on a little tour of the town and we stopped at a few shops to get some food, booze, and other materials. Steve and his wife are caretakers of the property while Ron is out of town, but they were incredibly friendly/helpful! Hats off! The local staff that worked there were very nice and it was a pleasure be with! I actually ended up cooking a dinner our last night there for the staff and their children! It was an excellent experience and they were very grateful! Definitely a highlight of our honeymoon!

The Property: The Pina Casita was awesome! I know a previous post or two had complained about the Eco-lighting or about the sound of the generator, but honestly, those posts were ridiculous from difficult guests. The generator which was run after we woke up for a few hours was NOT bad at all. The Eco-lighting was beyond acceptable.

The Casita and properly in general was awesome. Where else can you have tropical birds and howler monkeys as a morning alarm, yet have crashing waves lull you to sleep? Even though the days are hot and humid (not overwhelming) the nights are great and the ceiling fans are perfect! I found myself under the sheets often and I'm a picky sleeper!

When it's not raining, there is ALOT of activities to partake in. When it rains, obviously not as much, but the rainstorms are awesome! The rainstorms are incredibly relaxing! Jump in the sauna, take a nap, read a book, watch a dvd! When you are on vacation, there needs to be a level of relaxation and this provided it. The pool was awesome, the breakfasts in the morning were AWESOME, the list just keeps going! (If you like spice, make sure to get some of the Chombo hot sauce!)

Activities: You can ride one of the many bikes into town, but make sure to pick a good one! Some of the chains are quite loose! ( The tropical weather destroys the bikes!) I ended up picking a bad bike and the chain fell off 10+ times...Let's just say my hands looked like a car mechanics, but it wasn't a big deal. You can go horseback riding, go on a jungle trek, check out the secret lagoon, go surfing, take a trip to some of the other islands.

There's a lot more that I can say, but I can't spend all day here!

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I would recommend BBR to anyone.

  • 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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Calgary, Canada
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

My girlfriend and I found the Bluff Beach Retreat on Trip Advisor and on a whim we booked a week with Ron. We had no idea what to expect but we were up for an adventure. After a very manageable flight from Panama City to Bocas Town we were met by our hosts and driven to the Bluff Beach Retreat.

Situated just off miles of open beach, and tucked away in the jungle we felt like we had arrived in a truly secluded and private getaway. Our days were spent relaxing by the pool, walking on the beach, and when it was raining we just sat on the open deck sipping a cold drink and admiring the beauty of the jungle.

I would highly recommend this bed and breakfast to anyone whether that be a family, a couple, or a group of friends looking for a unique spot to get away and relax.

Room Tip: Pick one of the bottom level beach houses or the cabana.
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  • Stayed July 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.
Vail, Colorado
Level Contributor
15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 13, 2012

I had mixed feelings about this hotel. The grounds are gorgeous, the pool is beautiful and refreshing and breakfast was delicious every day. We enjoyed the beach even though the surf was too rough to swim. We liked the nice sand and having the beach to ourselves. As far as beaches go, it was beautiful even though you couldn't swim. Ron was helpful when it came to booking our excursions.

Unfortunately we didn't sleep well because the casita was HOT! The fans helped to circulate the air and it cooled a little at night, but we couldn't stand to lie on the bed at all during the day for a nap. The kitchen worked well, but the eco lighting didn't throw enough light to cook. We had to use a headlamp to just get through cooking and clean up. The living room in the casita only had a love seat to sit on which sat 2, but the casita was for 4 people so we couldn't all sit the room at the same time. Although it had been mentioned on this site that the hotel was far from town, the cost ($30 roundtrip) and time to travel back and forth (25-30 mins each way) grew old quickly.

BBR has pros and cons. This might be the place for you, or it might not....

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
10 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 29, 2012

I decided to stay at the Bluff Beach Retreat heavily based on the reviews on this site, which was back then rated #1. I do not regret haven chosen this property; however, if you're looking for a Caribbean-type of beach you will be disappointed. Indeed, the ones in Bocas del Toro look more like the Pacific type (darker sand, strong currents, etc.). I was travelling solo and I was unlucky enough to have rain the entire duration of my stay (three days), which added to the fact that getting to the town was somewhat time-consuming and expensive there were moments where it got quite boring.

At it is mentioned it previous reviews, the property is indeed off the beaten path but one can argue that that is part of its charm. Given the state of despairs of the roads to the hotel it takes about 20-25 minutes to make it to the town and it can be pricey (most common rate 30 USD round-trip, although at night the rates may go up even more). Luckily there was a restaurant at the B&B nearby, which was priced reasonably and food was simple but good.

The lodge was someone basic (e.g. no lamp on the bedside table or TV in the bedroom) but generally confortable. There is a TV that can be used to play DVD (they have a collection of them) but it would be nice if they could be connected to a satellite. Indeed, rain in Bocas del Toros can last for days, any time of the year, so you can get stuck in your lodge for a while. They should be given credit, though, for offering wireless internet access.

The breakfast was somewhat basic (smoothie, fruits, cinnamon roll) and the hosts were as expected very welcoming and pleasant.

Overall my experience in this property was very good but was disappointed by the beaches.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 18, 2012

Before we even made it to the Bluff Beach Retreat, we knew it was a great place. We decided to take 2 days at another bed and breakfast then switch it up to BBR for a change of pace. The owner of the first spot made the plans for us to meet up Ron in Bocas for our transfer and had wonderful things to say about BBR. William (the best!) met us there for a free ride to paradise! I would recommend having William stop at one of the convenience stores to pick up any supplies, food and drinks you want or might need as going back into town will run you around $30 a trip, however, William is happy to do it. Upon arrival at BBR we couldn't believe how beautiful it was! The pool is a fantastic asset but the beach is only steps away. The beach is wonderful and Cassius (gentle guard dog) will be happy to escort you. The waves are great to play in, grab a boogie board and have fun but be careful, these waves are tough. Later that evening we were greeting with homemade pina coladas! The casita that we stayed in was comfy with plenty of room for 4 people. It was nice to have the kitchen in case we did want to store food or drinks. A bottle of water was supplied for us. We were served a delicious breakfast everyday with plenty of fruit, eggs and pastries. If you do want to venture down the road a bit, there is a beach bar at the neighboring resort. The owners are very nice and serve up a great menu with plenty of drinks, I recommend the chicken croquettes. We took the bikes one afternoon and headed up the road to find some other beaches and explore. Another day we went to see the adjoining farm where baby animals were everywhere, including a sloth with her young in tow. We got to see lots of fruit plants (pineapples grow out of the ground!?!?) and enjoyed the trek! We would love to come back and bring a group to the larger house, it looked beautiful! Upon leaving, Ron knew we were going back into Panama City and made arrangements for us to be picked up at the airport (something he most certainly did not have to do but was happy to help). The driver was fantastic and took us all around the city to see things that we otherwise would have never known about! Very accommodating and enjoyable, thanks so much!

Room Tip: Get a group and go for the larger house!
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Additional Information about Bluff Beach Retreat

Address: Playa Bluff, Isla Colon, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 36 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Colon
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to Bluff Beach Retreat. Our 4 acre property is located directly on Bluff Beach, Isla Colon, in the Bocas del Toro archipelago of Panama, Panama - with miles of secluded sandy beach for you to enjoy. It is a short walk from the steps of our three homes - the Beach House - Las Palmas Casita & La Pina Casita to spectacular Bluff Beach. Enjoy our spectacular 65 foot Oceanfront pool! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bluff Beach Retreat Hotel Bocas Town
Bluff Beach Retreat Panama/Bocas Del Toro - Isla Colon

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