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“Love, Love, Love this place!!!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Tesoro Escondido

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Tesoro Escondido
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Bluff Beach Road | Bluff Beach, Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
LaGrange, Indiana
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Love, Love, Love this place!!!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2013

Tesoro Escondido sits up on a cliff among the tree tops and right between two beaches. You can be at eye level with the sloth and the monkeys and sometimes even above them. I love the 2nd floor of the lodge it's a hugh wrap around deck . It's the same floor as the dinning area. lots of chairs and hammocks to lounge in, read a book, watch the surfers, bird watch, watch the barracuda and sting ray from the deck.
There are two beaches right there so all depending on the season the snorkeling is fantastic. A quarter mile down the road there is another beach that goes on for miles.
The grounds has 3 cabanas that are uniquely decorated. There is also an apt. on the grounds.
The lodge has five rooms.
The grounds are full of flowers and fruit which supports some of the neatest insects I have ever seen, like banana spiders,and walking sticks that are as big as my hand, lightening bugs that look Darth Vader, lizards,geckos and yes snakes....nothing that is harmful. You have to remember that you are in the jungle.
It is completely Eco-friendly. Monique will help you set up your day or night trips and her husband Jim will happily sit and chat with you about the history of Bocas. The staff is always very friendly. The food is good Breakfast,Lunch and Dinner prices are reasonable and there is a bar. Every room has a cooler so bring a block of Ice and do some of your own cooking to save money. There are two kitchens in the lodge and the cabanas have kitchens. Things stay damp given your right on the sea.
You can be as social as you want to be.....but, it's fun to have dinner with everyone in the evening and share drinks and stories.
There are also many dogs and a few cats for those of you that might need a fix.....

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled solo
    • 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
    • 4 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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257 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 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 (49)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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English first
Prague, Czech Republic
16 reviews 16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

Had the great pleasure to sample 3 of the different lodging options while at Tesoro. Stayed in the upper level of the main lodge for the first night. Very spacious and comfortably breezy with the windows open. Nice veranda to kick back and chill out. Nights 2 thru 5 were in the Turtle Cabina. Nice layout with a deck right over the beach. Lulled to sleep each night with the ocean waves crashing to shore. Nights 6 thru 8 were in the Dolphin Cabina, which is the best of what we encountered. Higher on the bluff than Turtle. Has better air flow, floor plan, and views. Treated to monkeys frolicking just outside our kitchen window. The entire compound is outstanding and well worth the jaunt away from bustling Bocas. Grab some groceries and a block of ice in town before cabbing it to the Retreat, or just indulge in the breakfasts, lunches, or dinners provided at the Lodge. Good place to "satellite" from and get a chance to explore. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: If you are a "light" sleeper and end up staying in the Turtle Cabina, earplugs are a must...
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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.
Senior Contributor
34 reviews 34 reviews
16 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 9, 2013

This place is gorgeous. It is set in the hillside overlooking the ocean with it's own private cove. Each Cabina is tucked away and very private. All rooms have personality and charm. They are comfortable and clean. Monique, the owner is welcoming and lovely! Tesoro Escondido seems to be a place that everyone appreciates in their own personal way. It's a great place for personal reflection and very welcoming for individual travellers. If you want to spend time in quiet reflection then this is the place for you but if you wish to mingle and chat dinner is very intimate and it's easy to do. The word Oasis is the perfect reference. Tesoro Escondido is just around the corner (3 minutes walk) from an amazing beach that goes on and on forever with beautiful amber sand and surf galore. About 20 minutes walk is a beach bar that serves drinks and meals. I cannot remember the name but if you ask Monique she'll tell you how to get there. If you are visiting Bocas for the action of town then be warned the taxi's charge around $10.00 each way as the roads are winding and difficult to navigate and it's around 6 km away from the Bocas strip. Great value and a wonderful spiritual place full of interesting people with interesting stories. Ask Monique about her chocolates - they are amazing! I know that my family and I will return to enjoy the little slice of Paradise Monique has carved out for herself and her lucky guests.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois, United States
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

Wow. We just got back to the cool climes of Chicago today after 4 nights at this incredible place. It was the last leg of our week-long honeymoon which started in Costa Rica and ended with a bus trip from San Jose to the border at Sixaola, a walk across the rickety bridge into Panama (what a cool experience), a cab ride to Almirante, a lanza ride into Bocas town and a cab ride to our destination. About 10 hours travel in total, I think. Completely worth it.

I had been in contact with Monique over many weeks before the trip. She is prompt in response and always pleasant.

We stayed at the Dragonfly cabina the first night before spending the last 3 in the Dolphin. Both were excellent, though Dolphin (and I suspect Turtle) was particularly well-suited for me and my wife--cozy and spacious, with welcoming hammocks on the balcony where the waves just below lulled us to sleep while rocking away our second night there.

The waves are pretty loud (at least this time of year), but I had no trouble sleeping whatsoever. Daily activities and the thoroughly calming environment along with a beer or two (per Monique's suggestion when we were discussing a possible stay in the probably louder Turtle cabina: "perhaps some earplugs and a few cocktails might help"--I found neither really necessary, though my wife was woken by a particularly windy storm one night) put me to sleep with the aid of the ocean sounds quickly every night.

I'm pretty sure we moved into the Dolphin the day after the last reviewer (we were in the Dragonfly the first night waiting for it to open up the second night), and I found the shower to be nice and hot every time. Three or four geckos were always in there checking us out, croaking and chilling, hardly bothered by us at all. Awesome.

Again, I slept quickly every night, and I am most definitely a night person by nature, so falling to sleep on any surface by 9-10 pm is a small miracle. Needless to say, I did not find the bed uncomfortable. The reviewer was right that EVERYTHING stays damp there, so the cool side of the pillow does not exist. But with windows open to adequate screens, a nice airflow kept me from sweating (at all, now that I think about it) in that cabina.

I am what you might call a sweet-blooded person (as is my mom, though not my dad or sisters, to our chagrin). My wife is as well and we came loaded down with enough deet to take down a rhino. I don't like to use it if I don't have to, and I really only applied bug spray maybe twice the whole time on the island. Both times when the sun was either just going down or just had gone down, and because I was getting bitten a bit tho not a lot. Did get a few itches, but nothing to write home about; that was actually a real surprise. Even falling asleep on the hammock for several hours (later at night, around midnight) didn't leave me with more than a couple bites.

Other than those few things, the last reviewer was spot on, and more detail oriented than I'm capable of.

Staff was awesome:

Serafino showed us some howler monkeys perched in the trees our first morning and assured my wife that the palm-sized banana spiders were harmless by picking one up and letting it crawl on his arm.

Anse and Slavka cooked up great breakfasts and dinners and were endlessly cheerful and friendly even while working their tails off to take care of the full house they had the whole time we were there. Didn't try the lunches, though I'm sure they were just as good. The meals were not large, but were simple, elegant, delicious, and all from scratch (as in, they baked the bread for the french toast the night before). We supplemented ourselves with snacks from town. Didn't try the desserts properly, tho Monique cut us off a slice of something outrageously chocolaty that was supposed to become a bar of some kind. I will count not sampling from their dessert menu as a major regret of the trip. They encourage guests to have dinners together, family style, which was fun, though several people abstained without any hubbub each night we ate there.

Monique and Jim (husband) were each a trip in their own right (you'll get a good sense for Monique in email correspondences that won't disappoint when you meet her in person). Both very laid back, extremely friendly and fun to chat with, but also stayed out of our business when we didn't initiate. A couple kids that were staying long-term and helping out were also very cool and friendly. Even the dogs came with us for the entirety of our first day on the beach!! Chichi and serafino's dog protected our stuff and made us feel almost at home as we strode down playa bluff with two dogs to play with.

Other advice: 1.) Rent a bike in town to get back and forth without all your stuff. Super cheap at a variety of places down there. We rented one between us, but it got a little hard on my hammies to lug around my wife for the two days we had it, smokin' hot though she is in a bikini 2.) Ask for directions if you're going to la piscina--we didn't and ended up about 500 feet short of it on the beach before we gave up. (I just looked on google maps) 3.) check out Paki Point when you're not hanging at Monique's--very friendly, also good food, drinks, coffee, surfboard rentals, about halfway between Tesoro Escondido and town 4.) don't try to surf at Paki Point if you've never had any experience or lessons or have a friend to help you--even though the guy renting to me there was very helpful and supportive, I got humbled by a nice big wave within about 20 minutes (most people will heed this advice intuitively).

In all, great time. Can't wait for the right anniversary to come up for an excuse to book again!

  • Stayed January 2013, 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 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
17 reviews 17 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 31, 2012

Monique is lovely, and as others have said, she has a wonderful place: relaxing, beautiful, calm, friendly, welcoming - everything you need in a getaway. The staff follow Monique's lead and are also helpful and kind. We don't surf and we loved it here - despite the rain! Monique's husband is very entertaining, too, if he happens to be there when you stay. This place is perfect if you want somewhere to unwind, enjoy nature, and feel at ease.

We stayed in the Dolphin cabina, which does have a wonderful view. It's private, nestled in the trees, with lots of bird life to watch and wonderful sunsets/sunrises. The waves are still loud, so if you can't handle that kind of noise, this isn't for you! The cabina is rustic, for sure, but has everything you need, including electrical outlets. The little kitchen has utensils, dishes, pots, gas stove; the bathroom a small shower (cold water!), toilet, and sink. The porch and front door have screens, but we did notice the doors have warped with time and weather so don't fully seal. Be sure to have lots of insect repellent - and a citronella candle might be a good idea if you want to spend evenings on the porch. Also, because of the climate, we found everything stayed a bit damp - so be prepared for that, especially if you're there during the rainy time. My only complaint is that the bed is not very comfortable: I rolled towards the middle, and anytime my husband moved, the whole bed moved and made noise.

We decided not to bring as much food as we had planned, however did buy some items in town (bread, jam, peanut butter, pasta, beer) which was more expensive than other places in Panama, but certainly not as much as in North America. I'd recommend buying in town rather on the mainland and having to lug more things through Almirante, water taxi, etc. There are a handful of stores in Bocas Town, walkable from where you get off the water taxi. Breakfast at Tesoro Escondido is $5.00, with a few choices. We found the breakfast, while good, to be a bit sparse (e.g.: no sides come with it). We do recommend the banana pancakes - and the view from the eating area in the morning is gorgeous. Lunch is $6.50, and dinner between $10-$13, depending what you order. We had dinner once which was good, but based on what you get at the restaurant, it's definitely cost-effective to make your own dinner. Lots of drinks available (probably better to go with beer rather than the wine), as well as baked sweet items (e.g.: banana bread). Their chocolate comes direct from a cacao plantation, so try the chocolate ice-cream if you can, it's delicious!

Lots of lovely happy dogs around, and a variety of people seemed to be staying. It's a very comfortable environment. If you don't surf, there aren't any swimming beaches nearby, although Playa Bluff is stunning to walk. We decided to walk to La Piscina, a good 1.5-2 hours each way, so that we could swim: through treed areas, stream runoffs, open stretches, and mud holes (because of all the rain at the time). We felt it was worth it because we really wanted to swim, and it is a pretty spot, but definitely a way to go for a small swimming area. I'd recommend taking a lunch with you and spending a few hours.

Because of the distance to get here, and the relative isolation, I'd recommend at least 3 nights - and that's bare minimum! We stayed 3 nights and it really doesn't feel like enough to get settled and fully appreciate the place.

Tips on getting there:

Taxis for us were $10 each way. The road is fairly washed away in parts, and you definitely need a 4-wheel drive, so I wouldn't recommend taking your rental car.

There are two water-taxi companies: one that is beside the police station in Bocas Town, and the other I think called Bocas Water Marine. We used both, and preferred the first one beside the police station - it's a nicer waiting area, feels a bit more or a better-run operation. Both are $4 each person, one way. There are no signs for the water taxis in Almirante. The water taxis are about the 4th or 5th right turn before you get to the end of the main stretch towards the car ferry dock in Almirante. The fire station is at the end of the road - if you're here, you've gone too far (turn around and take your 4th or 5th left). You'll see lots of cars in parking lots, and young kids yelling to ask if you want to go to Bocas. They'll help with your bags, etc., for a couple of dollars. There are a few parking lot options, and if these are full (we could have left our car and they would have moved some others around, but we would have had to leave the keys which we didn't feel comfortable with), you can drive down to the fire station and they will keep your car for the same price - $3/day. This is what we did. It's a 10-15 minute walk to the water taxi from the fire station, so drop off bags with someone to watch them at the water taxi then go and park the car.

Room Tip: The turtle cabina is private, sits below the main "house" nestled in trees, and is just ab...
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  • Stayed December 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

Monique has created an oasis that provides a wonderful experience of the area - the jungle, the beach, the birds, monkeys and other wildlife, while providing enough creature comforts to be at ease. I sat all one day watching birds and flowers and listening to the waves while others walked to swim on the beach. After you've worked up an appetite you can enjoy one of the seemingly endless interpretations of local cuisine including fish, meat or vegetarian offerings and dessert creations that were unique. Ice creams flavored with fruit from the surrounding grounds and cacao from Monique's farm reminded us of where we were and the history and cultures of Panama.

Visitors can choose a room in the main lodge - each individual and quaint with windows painted in cheerful natural motifs and showers that let in light through colored glass (each a Monique creation!), or a more private 'cabina' by the sea. The 'Dolphin', 'Turtle' and 'Dragonfly' cabinas each have their own colored glass walls in those motifs. Wi-fi is provided but there is no television to interfere - believe me you won't miss it.

Location is about a 15-minute drive from Bocas Town, making visitors think twice before going in, but this is a place for exploration and reflection. Monique can make recommendations and arrangements for day trips via boat, snorkel/scuba, rain forest, indigenous cacao farm, and other adventures that guests might request. Her knowledge of the area and its offerings lets guests make the best use of their time - or you can simply enjoy a relaxing vacation reading on the deck in the beautiful surroundings as I did

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled solo
    • 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 3
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Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica
Top Contributor
74 reviews 74 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
57 helpful votes 57 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 10, 2012

We live in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica full time, so for a trip to something tropical to be special... well, it must be pretty special. Tesoro is a great little escape. "Escape" is not used sparingly. When you get to Isla Colon (just 3-1/2 hours and $17 a person) grab a few essentials (wine, coffee, yogurt, fruit, bread, cheese) so you can relax in your cabin and not leave for the first day. Sitting on the deck drinking wine (or coffee) and watching the waves crash below is just stunning. The lodge is comfy and cozy, but we really just needed a day to decompress from our own busy tourist business before we felt like we wanted to be social. I alternated between sleeping in the hammock and reading/overlooking the waves.
The second day we took an 1-1/2 hour walk (very easy, flat terrain) to a special spot called The Piscina, or The Pool. A natural feature of the sea cutting a deep shallow bay. After an hour of walking, watch for two sturdy (longer than usual) walking sticks, these will become indispensible to help you balance a 10 meter stretch of swampy mud balancing on floating logs. Take a lunch; we enjoyed the tuna salad the young man at the hotel made for us.
Dinner in was good, a fresh salad followed by a hearty chicken breast, white rice, and curry vegetables, for about $12. They have a full bar, though a limited wine menu.
We skipped breakfast both days, opting for granola and yogurt in the cabina. But it seems they have a pretty good breakfast offering for about $6.
The cabina is funky and sweet. It's obvious it's about 16 years old and built when getting things was not as easy as it is today, but that doesn't mean anything negative. Our own home in Costa Rica, built 9 years ago, is similar in it's mish/mash construction and enginuity.
Everything was clean and maintained to the standards to keep the casual traveler happy. A neat freak or a home stager might squabble, but we loved the use of local cast-offs to create art and function out of ordinary items.
The owner, Monique, is delightful and genuinely happy to have you as guests. She'll fill you will stories or respect your need for solitude... a great combination in a host. The days we visited a lovely young couple from Belgium were fulfilling some volunteer experience. They did most of the entertaining, and it's obvious they are smitten with the opportunity they have to live/work and play host, their excitement was contagious.
Just as they advertise, it is a 4 mile trip from town, the taxi ride will likely cost you $10 to $12. The day we left, hoping to get an early start, we asked for a taxi. Told it would take 45 minutes, we asked while we finished packing and squaring away our bill. The taxi actually took about 2 hours to arrive, probably due to the issue that it was hauling a big supply of water, gas, etc out to the lodge. I really like the trade-off that only one taxi made the trip, and that they economize and save fuel and all that, but it did delay our day considerably by getting a much later start for us on what would be the only day in Bocas Town to do our tours out for snorkeling, etc... and we paid full price. So, while this maybe an issue for the taxi more than the lodge, it kind of dampened our enthusiasm on departure to be held up when we were far ready to get going. They were good enough to let us send the last $30 back with the next cab as we ran short on money and they don't accept credit, prefering we not pay through paypal or auto deposit. Rooms and food are a bit high, two people, two nights, two dinners (complete with dessert), and two coffees were $230 with tax.
Overall, I loved it. Great people, great location, wonderful place to relax. We will strongly recommend to our clients who are looking for casual, artsy/funky, and escape-worthy.

Room Tip: We loved the Dolphin cabin, great view and quieter than the Turtle.
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Tesoro Escondido

Address: Bluff Beach Road | Bluff Beach, Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon > Bocas Town
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 31 Specialty Lodging in Bocas Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Rustic and charming facility with stunning beach front location. 6 rooms in main house and 3 cabinas, all with private bathrooms and kitchens. 2 small beaches are on either side of the property. Bluff Beach located 1 minute away. Within walking distance to La Curba and Dumper surf breaks. Paunch surf break is 15 minutes away. 4 miles from Bocas town. Free wireless internet in main house. Delicious prepared food available on site. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Tesoro Escondido Hotel Bocas Town
Tesoro Escondido Bocas Del Toro, Panama - Bocas Town

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