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“Unique first stop in Panama” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Free Spirit Inn

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Free Spirit Inn
Old Bank, Isla Bastimentos 00190, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence 2014
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Unique first stop in Panama”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 20, 2013 via mobile

We had a wonderful welcome and stay with Calvin on Bastimentos Island. My children (aged 9 & 11) felt safe and comfortable for our entire stay.

We enjoyed the quiet, the closeness to nature and the lovely room (Ebony Suite). They were happy to still have access to the outside world via wifi, so we were able to have a rustic experience with the right notes of modernity.

The town has some delicious restaurants and everything is walking distance as there are no cars on the island, another plus when travelling with children, seeing another way of life in the Caribbean.

We hope to visit again soon

Stayed September 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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47 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
    4.5 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 (8)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
London, England, United Kingdom
4 reviews 4 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 30, 2013

Arriving at the teeming little port in Bocas Del Toro (Mouth of the Bull) in the Gulf of Mexico - we caught a small motor boat over to the Island of Bastimentos. Bastimentos is part nature reserve and part unspoilt and natural village and jungle. Free Spirit Inn is situated up the hill of Old Bank with an uninterrupted view across the bay, Arriving at the quayside, dressed as City slickers, (a look we very soon discarded) we were met by our host Calvin who took us up the hill to his delightful B & B.where we were staying in a beautiful double room with a balcony that overlooked the bay, a voluminous bed and an en suite bathroom.

The Island has no cars and you travel everywhere by boat. There is so much to do, both if you just want to soak up the peace and tranquility or if you want something more adventurous. Confront yourself by going on the cave trip - wading through water up to your chin - fully clothed with a helmet and light - being lead by your intrepid guide Hunky. The bats are sweet and add another dimension!!
The local restaurants serve wonderful food, the beaches and swimming are glorious, the people friendly. The local Church on Sunday was a special treat where we joined in the joyous singing and clapping of the happy Island people. The sunsets are magnificent.

It was indeed a holiday to remember. Don't forget to take your camera!

Room Tip: All the rooms are really excellent - individually designed and furnished with beautiful furniture an...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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.
Dania Beach
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 18, 2013

My sister and I went to Bocas del Toro for relaxation and adventure, we found both. Free Spirit Inn up on the hill of Old Bank on Bestimentos, is charming,serene, surrounded by trees, with a beautiful view of the Caribbean from the rooms balcony. Calvin the host met us at the dock in the rain. He had given precise instructions for the passage from the airport in Bocos to the dock at Old Bank Park on the Island, including how best to find a water taxi. He walked us up the hill to a charming B&B built in the local indian style,with thatched roof, hammocks and all things necessary for comfort. He gave us an introduction to the Island, and suggested sightseeing trips, beaches, local restaurants and other things of interest. The cave trip is not for the faint of heart, Hunky, our guide knew every rock and step. At his command we swum and ducked, while wadeing through water with only the light from our helmets. It was very exciting and exilherating, Calvin seems to know the best guides for every trip. Everywhere we went the food was good, and though it was out of season we had several glorious days of sunshine.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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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Miami, Florida
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2013

My Fiancee and I spent a few days at the Free Spirit in for the first leg of our 9 day Bocas del Toro tour. We met Calvin at the main dock and he took us just a bit up the hill to his very charming and beautiful B & B. We were greeted with a some coconuts and given the lay out. It was raining the first day so Calvin asked us if we wanted him to order us food from a local spot and he would arrange for someone to pick it up and drop it off for us. The food was cheap and great ( I forgot the name but I had the coconut curry). Calvin was a pretty amazing guy and was as accomadating as possible. Case in point excursions. Obviously if you are coming here you're here for adventure or maybe some nature, well Calvin Hooked it up. My Fiancee and I went out the first day with Antonio, who came to meet us at Calvins house and tell asked us what we wanted to see. We said we wanted to see some Dolphins, do some snorkling, and grab lunch. For $30 each we got just that. Everyone will say they have a secret spot to see Dolphins but this seemed to be it. We saw like 10 DOlphins who actually played with the boat and allowed us to capture awesome pics. He also showed us a bunch of sloths. We actually told him we were ready to leave as we had seen enough dolphins lol. Then we went to Coral Cay and theres a little restuarant out there. We Ordered and came back an hour later after some snorkling...Great Tour! We also went for a hike in a bat Cave with Alvaro who was knowledgeable and had helmets for us (bring head lamps to Bocas). I could write all day about Calvin and the beautiful lodge. We liked Calvin so much that we called him to go out to dinner the last day we were in Bocas, he took us to Firefly which was like the rest of the experience.... Amazing

p.s Bocas tip: Bring some packets of tide laundry detergent & plastic bags as everything gets wet. Also be sure to tip properly, these people work for tips and I promise you that your trip Karma will be superb.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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.
San Francisco, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 31, 2013

We came to Free Spirit Inn yesterday after a long trip from Costa Rica. Arriving at Calvin's place was like walking into a calm and serene garden. He greeted us promptly and gave us coconut water while we relaxed on the porch overlooking the sea. Calvin is a very gracious host and his passion for his work and home is evident! We stayed in the purple room; it was well appointed and very comfortable. As I sit here on the porch with a cup of coffee, I am sorry that I don't have more time to spend here on the island and at Calvin's Free Spirit Inn. For those of you who are looking for a personal and more intimate experience, this is the place for you. I recommend Calvin highly, as his kind of hospitality is what I enjoy so much about traveling and getting to know others.

Stayed May 2013, traveled with friends
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Brussels, Belgium
1 review
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

We were in Free Spirit for four nights last week (march 2013). It wasn't a good experience. To reach Free Spirit you have to pass across a small and dirty up-hill path. Calvin is a person with the attitude to control everything, to give you many rules from the beginning of your permanence... He is often on the balcony of his house watching you in his property (he uses to remark that you are in his property and you have to respect his rules). As you do something he considers wrong (as forget to switch off a light in your room or closing the door of the balcony in the common area) he tells you immediately!
You have few things for breakfast (cereals, milk and coffee) and if you want more (as simply bread, butter, etc…) you have to pay. In the evening he brings the coffee at his home because he is worried that somebody can steal it in the sharing kitchen. As consequence, when you wake up and the coffee is not there you should scream is name (there is no bell on this door) hoping he hears you, for giving it.
There is not cleaning service for the rooms, so if you need to change at least the towel you should do the same: screaming hoping he is there…
Last night the electricity missed all the time, he told me there was an emergency lamp in the room. I switched it on but it stopped to work after few minutes. I informed Calvin, he told me he was aware about the defect of the lamp, he hasn’t got other candles (we had just two in the room almost finished) and that he doesn’t consider so important having light… I should think that local people there have lived without electricity for many years!!!… He was really unfair and impolite… we had to wake up before the sunrise trying to prepare the baggage because we had to leave really early in the morning.
Indeed, he has a sweety dog almost always chained, because he pretends to make him a guardian dog, even it is not the attitude of the poor animal, it is really simple to understand. For this treatment as the dog (Lucy) is free, she is completely thrilled and, if you call her, she doesn’t stop to jump on you trying to receive attentions and affection…
So, if the weather is sunny and you spend at Calvin place less time is possible, it could be ok, because the cabana is really really nice, otherwise (it is the Caribbean…) I advice you another place to stay!!

Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Blackprince02, Owner at Free Spirit Inn, responded to this review, March 14, 2013
My job as a host is to be welcoming to all my guest , be let me be blunt Free Spirit Inn is a no smoking guest house , and for any one who book without understanding the rules which are in a package which is giving on arrival at the same time as I get your passport details and offer you a welcome drink . Freespiritinn is located in a jungle area where water and electricity is at time in short supply , so we have to understand this is not a hotel wear sheets and towels are change daily , but when ask no problem I have enough for many changes , but I do not go into guest rooms without permission . Each room also has a backup emergency battery lighting , with low and high useage , using it on night can be a problem for inscects coming into your room and you should have feel for the local communtiy population who does not have any light and are in the dark telling stories and laughing with each other instead of making your more uncomfortable by
looking at what you don't have when there is so much that you have . I service brackfast between
8am & 10 am all items are taking out of the kitchen area and lock away and see things like coffee
Toaster , and other food items can be a problem with insects and some of the locals who don't have these item available to them . This is not a hotel people who want to come into a rustic jungle
environment should really think twice specially when this is one of your first travels outside of your country , this is the Caribbean and how you feel about animal which is not the same in poor community here most people have dogs for watching the property not as pets so guest should really understand the condition the local people are living under and not be judgmental, even it really not of your concern for the short period of time that you are visiting . The island in which I live with the local community is not as clean as I would like it and not as clean as some of the local would like it also , but sharing with you some of the educational needs of a lot of island communtity and their surrounding this is one of the reality you are face with . Free spirit inn is a very well clean safe and well kept property with a fence in surrounding for the guest comfort .We live in the community but not alway with the life style of the community but it's a good education for the locals and guest to come help teach and share some of the things that well as first world people take for granted as keeping the island clean picking up the trash along the walk way , but sometime the guest have to understand some of the locals issue with trash pickup starts with the local government they do a poor job of keeping the island clean and working with the locals to understand how it a health issue , that a big problem on some of the poor populated islands where you don't have the rich money tourist or populated with a lot of foreign residents , but after living here I see the change for the better after having a big strike in Bocas town for one month because the government want to raise the fee for poor service , yes I have to be very controlling on what goes on with outsider visiting my property because " Everything " is beautiful and is made from wood I have to make sure it does not go up in smoke , with maybe a I'm sorry I did realize fire can catch the wood so easy, this is not a place for guest who are not use to Eco living where it maybe a little uncomfortable at time as I started off saying this is not a upscale resort or a do what ever you want why should anyone care .

I live here in Bastimento a Caribbean island to share the spirit of the people and to exchange some of my knowhow for so of their ways of life but not to judge or think that things should be as I wish then to be, this is not a resort ,and there is no villas , and to be clear I can not control the weather just because some people come most of all to go back home with a sun tan, sorry talk with the higher power before coming so you are not disappointed and making other feel your discomfort ..
not alway the case in third world countries
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Corrales, New Mexico
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
54 helpful votes 54 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 10, 2013

Free Spirit Inn has a lovely setting up the hill on Bastimentos.
Calvin has built 2 units with a veranda, and a common dining area below, along with lovely well kept grounds – a meditation hut, meeting table, & reading room. The décor is woods with thatched roof which fits in beautifully with the verdant surroundings. Nice touches are added with artwork, pillows, masks, etc from Calvins travels. Ensuite bathroom has a shower with mosaic pebble floor, and stone?sink. Every inch of the property has been thought out by Calvin. Shells placed here and there, art pieces etc. The free welcome drink of coconut juice is very refreshing.
Suites have a very comfortable bed with a nice wood frame for a quiet and peaceful nights sleep. No air-conditioning but, the fans were fine to keep us cool.
Breakfast is fresh juice, a healthy granola, yogurt, bananas, teas, and regular coffee – but if you want a special Panamanian organic one its $2 extra. Also you can order an omelette or pancakes if you want for $6-8.

Calvin is a very welcoming and generous host with explaining the area, local customs/culture, restaurant and activity recommendations (hike up the hill through the jungle to the cafe and then on to Wizard Beach). The communal kitchen area below the suites (with refrigerator, heating element, sink) is perfect for fixing a drink, light meal etc and relaxing and exchanging experiences, ideas and stories. If you want to eat in and fix light fare in the basic kitchen- get groceries in Bocas Town at Super Gourmet.

Perfectly priced for Bastimentos – and not a hostel, but not a high priced all-inclusive resort, so a great alternative.

Cavin gets the Best Host award on our entire trip!

Room Tip: We liked the Sun Suite with a queen bed on the main floor and a twin up in the loft like area.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 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 Free Spirit Inn

Address: Old Bank, Isla Bastimentos 00190, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Room Service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 15 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 3
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our New Eco Friendly Inn offers a relaxed and lazy getaway with a splash of tropical adventure with local Caribbean music in the background with a beautiful island bay view, plus local restaurant ,bars with music and food stores two minutes away. Free Spirit Inn has comfortable private suites, with dreamy beds, private bathrooms with hot showers and stone massage floors. Each suite has a balcony view of the Caribbean and other islands in the bay, and a decorated sleeping loft for 1 to 2 extra guests.There is a outdoor seating area and hammock to enjoy quiet reflection, a garden area , outdoor open air shower ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Free Spirit Inn Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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