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“Quaint and Private” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Careening Cay Resort

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Careening Cay Resort
Carenero Island, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Certificate of Excellence
Quepos, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Quaint and Private”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2012

We stayed at Careening Cay for four nights and had a great time. The owners were very friendly and helpful, I can see where some people may find them "gruff" or whatever word you want to use but it helps to understand that they run a restaurant, a hotel other businesses as well as raise two young children. Everyone has their bad days. Their staff is incredible and always friendly. You may run into Joan as she is in the middle of trying to get her kids to do their homework and at the same time trying to flag down the lobster fisherman so her restaurant can have fresh lobster and she MAY be a little frazzled but the point is they are only human and they do a fantastic job of running the place. Most places you go and/or stay at you'll never even meet the owner! Both Joan and Steve sat down with us and talked to us and gave us tons of advice. The rooms were comfortable and spacious. The restaurant is great. The drinks are great. It is SUPER easy to get around, all you have to do is call a water taxi from the phone they provide and someone is there to get you in less than two minutes. You can be on the main island 2 minutes and $1/person later. The great thing is though, you don't even have to leave Isla Carenero. It is a large island with two other restaurants/bars and a lot to explore. Our ONLY complaint was we wished there was at least a small refrigerator in the room for leftovers/snacks/beers. The larger rooms may have this feature though, I am not sure. We didn't think the noise was a problem as others have stated. One thing you need to understand before even coming to Bocas though is there is a lot of night life and it is LOUD. It is not quiet, ever. That being said, the music did not carry too bad and if we popped in a movie before bed we never noticed it. Make sure you ask Joan if you can meet Kinka, she is adorable. You won't have to ask for Mango, their golden retriever. She'll be there waiting for you.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Marissa D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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142 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (32)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
San Jose, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
13 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 30, 2012

The hotel was fine according to the price. We had to get up early to be among the first to get to the breakfast time, because the fruit and bread/pancakes wasn't enough for all the guests.
The owners were not in a very good mood and weren't very helpful, they were a little gruff.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Caticatica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Treasure Island, Florida
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2012

Part of my 18 day visit to Panama last week was a trip to Bocas del Toro, first time there, researched various resorts/hotels before my arrival. My plan was to stay 2 nights on the main island of Isal Colon (Bocas Town), then 2 nights on the neighboring island of Carenero, which I chose because of my review of the Careening Cay Resort and the more private location. Upon arriving off of the water taxi ($1 from Bocas Town), I was taken aback by the beauty and tropical landscaping of this intimate and private piece of paradise. The dock housed cabins built right on the waters below. The restaurant, Cosmic Crab, was appropriately decorated, hence the name, with a wonderful reputation throughout Bocas Town. I was greeted by one of the owners, Joan, who offered me lunch, since the restaurant is closed on Mondays, and sat with me for about an hour, writing down all of the different places I should see while on my stay in Bocas. She was simply amazing, and her suggestions turned out to be so very memorable and fun, from boat trips to other restaurants to places to shop to gourmet delis and grocery stores to bring in any supplies (snacks, drinks, etc.) that I might want/need. I stayed in two different cabins, just to experience both types available (over the water/in the beautiful surroundings deep in the tropical rain forest) and enjoyed being there so much, that I stayed on for another 2 nights instead of going to Bouquete, located very far way. The next 2 nights and three days were even better than the first two. I was traveling alone, and felt very safe and comfortable where I was. I wanted to stay longer, but I had to get back to Panama City to spend a few days there before I was scheduled to fly back to the states. I didn't ever want to leave this place. I enjoyed the Cosmic Crab everyday, especially their $7.95 3 course meals offered from 12pm -6pm daily, and their incredible drink list that seems to go on forever! I met Stephen, Joan's husband, and he was just as delightful as she was to me. Joan also has the best store in all of Bocas, located on the property, with some of the most amazing crafts and jewlery I have ever seen (they both were in the business prior in the states). My stay at The Careening Cay Resort was better than I imagined/expected it would be and since I have been home, for just a few days now, I miss the place already and am planning my return trip back in a few months, I enjoyed it so. Stephen also is in real estate development and has property for sale on a neighboring island from Carenero for sale, and I am going to explore that opportunity as well, his website is definitely worth a look, www.Coral Coast Cristobal.com. If you are looking for very inexpensive lodging and wonderful, friendly and out-of-the-way helpful staff, and a piece of tranquility on your trip to Bocas del Toro, you must check this resort out, it is truly an amazing place to stay and be!! Janet from Florida.

Room Tip: Any of the 4-5 cabins sitting directly on the water, or any of the other 11 cabins sitting directly...
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 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
Helpful?
1 Thank Janet315
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Long Beach, CA
1 review
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 26, 2012

Joanie was excellent! She was a gracious host that made sure me and my friends (party of 8) where accomodated. Joanie arranged several trips for us including a day on a catamaran with captain George (captain George was the best part of the trip) and zip lining! Her homade hummus was BEST! Joanie provided towels for us as well, which was great.

However there were some issues with our bungalows. My friends and I rented two "rustic" bungalows (the crab cabin and humming bird). In the crab cabin the roof leaked everywhere and the air condintioner did not work; which made the cabin feel like a sauna. The drain in the shower did not work properly as well. In the humming bird cabin the air conditioner worked, but only in low mode. Often tripped the power and wasn't sufficient enough to cool the cabin. In both cabins the windows where screwed shut so the possibility of getting fresh air without misquitos eating you alive was impossible.

Even though Joanie was the gracious host, it still could not make up for the deficiencies in the lodging quarters. The pictures on the website should be updated to reflect the cabins current state. You definately get what you pay for.

All in all my friends and I made due with the situation at hand and are grateful that we were able to make lemonade out of oranges.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • 2 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank independanttravler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 19, 2012

Stayed at cosmic crab during new years 2011. Nice bungalows, but unfortunately a lot of problems with the water supply. We were out of water for almost three days. Quite bad after days at the beach and in the heat. The owners tried to fix the problems as best as they could, but I guess there were too many guests to handle in the season.

The breakfast is simple, but ok. Expect pancakes with sirup. Not exactly healthy, but tasty enough.
The place have a restaurant, but I wouldn't recommend to eat a better dinner at the place. For lunch it is ok.

The owners are a nice qouple, helpful to give advice of where to go and what to see.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Ingsyi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
19 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 11, 2012

THANK YOU JOAN!!! After travelling a lot in Mexico, we found Lonely Planet unable to give us a clear understanding of what to expect in Panama. The first hotel we stayed at in Bocas del Toro was Careening Cay Resort. Joan met us and spent a good amount of time listing out places to visit and things to see. Her suggestions were EXCELLENT - especially a restaurant named Bibi's. The weather was disappointing even though it wasn't the rainy season. But our room, over the water was VERY CLEAN and COMFORTABLE. I was very glad we were away from the party atmosphere of the main island, Colon. We had privacy when we wanted it. Joan solved all of our problems - again, as Lonely Planet wasn't very helpful. The breakfasts included were DELICIOUS and I would definitely recommend staying there. The cabins on land also looked very nice. Be sure to take the kayaks out!!!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 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
Helpful?
Thank David F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Ontario
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 8, 2012

While I was a bit concerned about the negative reviews I read about this place on trip advisor my friend and I went ahead with our plans to stay there. We were glad that we did. The staff was friendly as were Stephen and Joan. Stephen can be a man of few words so I suppose some people don't like that but we found him to be just fine. After roughing it in hostels it was nice to have a big cabin with our own bathroom. We had also been upgraded as the woman in the cabin we booked wanted to stay longer. We availed ourselves of the free kayaks and paddled around to Bibi's Restaurant on the other side of the island. Edwin, Jose and Giga were helpful and friendly also. Better service than in a lot of Panamanian places. The cabins are pretty and clean. The aircon works well and the happy hour margaritas are delicious. Joan has an extensive cocktail list as she is a graduate of mixology. Take some earplugs however as the boom boom boom from three nightspots across the water in Bocas Town are loud. All in all a good experience.

Room Tip: Google them and look at the pics. All the cabins are good quality but range to suit different needs...
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Value
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Location
    • 3 of 5 stars
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars
      Service
Helpful?
Thank SueQueTue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Careening Cay Resort

Property: Careening Cay Resort
Address: Carenero Island, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Carenero Island
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 B&Bs / Inns in Carenero Island
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Our waterfront paradise is on the island, Isla Carenero. The resort now encompasses 6 1/2 acres of lush, tropical landscaping and over 600 feet of waterfront. Our backyard is verdant rain forest. We sit on a point facing west, which captures the refreshing Caribbean breeze and offers up fabulous sunsets. We are just a two minute boat ride across the bay to Bocas Town. We enjoy the convenience of close proximity to town, yet are removed from the hub hub, noise, pavement, cars and heat, while on our own tropical island.The resort is peaceful and quiet. We have hummingbird feeders throughout. Many different birds, including parrots can be heard singing and conversing in the trees. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Careening Cay Hotel Carenero Island
Careening Cay Resort Panama/Carenero Island, Bocas Del Toro

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