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Bocas Villas
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Reviews (71)
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Reviewed November 20, 2013

We booked this through VRBO.

Phillip was great. He was extremely helpful before we arrived as my boyfriend and I had about a million questions. Once we arrived he arranged to have Brown his boat driver pick us up, take us to the grocery store and then to our home for three nights. By the way, Brown is The Man.

We stayed in the villa closest to Phillip and after seeing the other two villas, it is definitely the least nice villa. It is still great, but the other two are a bit nicer.

As some people said, they are a bit worn down but they are very clean and have everything you need. Kitchen supplies, stove, toaster, etc. Bath towels and beach towels.

The location cannot be beat. Being directly over the water was relaxing and fun. We loved snorkeling. I liked how we couldn't get to the villas without a boat ride from Brown. It made it seem more exclusive and a lot safer.

We had a lot of fun. Phillip went spear fishing one day and caught a barracuda. We made friends with our neighbors and we all cooked together one night and ate the delicious barracuda!

I've already recommended the villas to some friends going down next month and now I am recommending the Villas on trip advisor to everyone!

Room Tip: the two on the far end away from the owner's villa 
  • Stayed: October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank HiPrettyLady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 3, 2013

Stayed in Bocas villas for 5 nights and enjoyed it very much! The location was beautiful, waking up and falling asleep over the ocean is hard to beat. Our only complaint is really our fault, we are 26 and 27 year old girls who still like to party a little and Bocas villas is definitely secluded and coming home late is not a good idea or cheap. We went out to aqua lounge one night and came home late (which was probably loud and rude to our neighbors but we had a blast) and definitely felt judged the next day. But the boat trips included to town are great and make sight seeing during the day great (the times are sometimes tricky depending on what you want to accomplish during the day). I would suggest going to town and finding deals to red frogs beach, starfish, etc. Phil was very helpful, we wished for floaties, didn't even know he was around to hear us and we woke up with floaties on the patio. Brown was even more helpful and just a really nice guy, and Sam, the dog, was really pleasant to have around. all in all was a great time and would definitely come back, probably with my significant other next time. Thank you for

  • Stayed: February 2013
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Thank DancerNic
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2013

The review by NYCPlanner71, May 22 2013, is pretty spot on. This place will be fantastic for some and maybe a let down for others. But, I'll have to say that the ones who are let down probably didn't do their research. This place is not a resort, hotel, or full-service anything. If the thought of finding a fly in your soup appalls you, you might want to go elsewhere.

Phillip is a relaxed guy who can provide you with information and help with things you may need. It's obvious that he cares about Bocas Villas, and keeps it up very nicely. Brown is also an easy going guy who is friendly and will be there as promised whenever you ask him to. The bungalows are simple, minimally stocked, but clean (given that you're in an rural part of an almost third-world country), have just the essentials you need to eat, sleep, wash, and lounge, and yet feel almost luxurious when you're just lounging there taking in the view or laying in the warm calm, carribean waters.

Let Phillip know when you're arriving and he or Brown will pick you up from the airport. Worst case, the cab rides in town are generally $1 per person ... same for water taxis. The boat will meet you across the street from the Jardin Carribeno bar, and next to the Besos del Drago restaurant in case you need to cab it. They will probably stop at a market along the way to pick up groceries. I'd recommend getting at least water and snacks. Bocas Villas is only 5-10 mins by boat, but you'll have to arrange transport prior to any trip, so it's better to have some food and drink at the bungalow.

We stayed in the third bungalow from the left (approaching from the water). The stove is a bit small, but worked fine. The refrigerator keeps things cool but not cold, and the freezer is colder, but not enough to make ice, so be prepared. My girlfriend and I picked up a carton of eggs, some meat, couple potatoes, couple tomatoes, an onion, bananas, apples, salsa, hot sauce, big jug of water, instant noodles, bag of tortillas, couple 6 packs of beer, liter of squirt, 6 pack of club soda and tonic and several limes, vodka and tequila. This was a good amount of groceries for 4 days.

There are several snorkel and mask sets on the property, and a few fins, but not many sizes. I would recommend bringing your own if you're particular, or if you intend to do a lot of snorkeling. Bring a small dive light if you want to snorkel at night ... nothing to be afraid of in these waters ... only saw a few small jelly fish. Phil has some spear guns if you're into that. I didn't see anything big enough to shoot during my stay. There's a grill on the premises, but we didn't use it.

Getting back and forth from town takes a little planning. Basically, you should arrange the transportation with Phil or Brown the day before, but otherwise, there are normally two trips per day. We went during low season (July), so transportation was readily available, but not sure how that plays out during busy times (December). You should tip Brown ... more if he's gone out of his way to pick you up late at night. I don't think it's very possible to take a water taxi back to the villas, and Phil didn't recommend trying (for safety reasons), FYI.

Carry plenty of cash if you go into town, or be prepared to visit the ATM. It's pretty hit or miss if places accept credit cards. Ask before you sit down. Some places might even say they do, but then their card machine didn't work when the bill came. Be prepared. Meals are less expensive than the US, but not super cheap. A decent local meal can be had for about $5, and a nicer meal might be $25 (without alcohol). We had a really good meal at Bibi's restaurant on Isla Carenero. Aqua Lounge is kind of a fun, get drunk and do crazy things, kind of place that is also on Isla Carenero. It's a $1 water taxi ride you can catch from Barco Hundido bar. Phil told us about an inexpensive local place called Besos del Drago, which is right next to where they dock their boat in town. La Iguana was a fun bar filled with young tourists, and had a little dance floor, if you're into that. Everyone said to go to Barco Hundido to dance, but when we went there, it was dead, and they weren't very friendly. Bocas Wine Bar has a nice patio and view of the town, but wasn't really worthwhile. Raw Sush + Martini had super nice servers, but the sushi was a little funky tasitng, though well-presented. There are a lot of other options for dining and drinks ... asking people got us better results than googling.

For snorkeling and excursions, you can arrange with Phil. It's wothwhile if you have more than a few people, but might be a little expensive if it's just two people. We went into town and signed up with Gambitours, run by a french gentleman named Richard. It was only $30 per person, but they packed us into a small boat which made it tough to get your snorkel stuff on and get in and out of the water. Other than that, the tour was pretty good for the price. The snorkeling at Cayo Coral was only a little better than what you can get in front of your bungalow at Bocas Villas. Cayo Zapatillo was beautiful, but they spent too much time there ... like 2 hours.

Finally, there are definitely mosquitos. I never heard or saw them, but got plenty of bites. We brought spray, but I felt like having the fans on were better deterrant than the spray. However, I would recommend having spray for when you're not under a ceiling fan. By the last night, I didn't even use a spray, but turned on a fan and didn't seem to have any more bites. Still, i found that these bites were less potent than the ones I get back home.

Hope this information helps you out. Overall our short vacation was great. Bocas Villas was simple and charming, but exceeded our expectations in many ways. If we were to go back, the only things I would change would be to bring more cash and stay longer.

Room Tip: There are only 4 bungalows where we stayed, and apparently there are 3 more a little ways down the beach. We only experienced the bungalow we stayed in, which was the third from the left when you're approaching from the water. Phil was staying in the first bungalow from the left. Of the four, they seem to be very similar.
  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank bigjr123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2013

How to explain reviews where so many people love it here yet others appear to hate it? I chalk it up to some widely varying expectations about what Bocas Villas is (and in fact we were there at the same time another group was who gave it a bad review, and it was clear their expectations were way off). For us, it was an immensely peaceful and tranquil place surrounded by water with a gorgeous coral reef right in front and amazing bio luminescent invertebrates AND plankton all around. Sunsets in front of you, pufferfish and Eagle Rays in the water, calming rainstorms (in Dec/Jan it certainly does rain a lot, which we loved) mixed with sun to dry everything out.

But this is not a full-service hotel and not the four seasons. And Bocas del Toro is rustic Panama it's not St. Kitts. Bocas Villas is a place to relax and breathe, to listen to the quiet surrounding. The villas have great open porches in front and are laid out well, but they are more along the lines of a rustic rental bungalow with good amenities than a luxurious condo. The kitchens would benefit from a run to Ikea to beef up the cookware, but all the basics are indeed there. The place is also not IN Bocas Town, it's a boat ride away and therefore your ability to move around is constrained as such. But that's where the peacefulness of the place comes from: you're isolated.

Phillip and Brown do a great job with upkeep and transportation and Brown is a warm soul to greet you every morning. If you really want to get away, to be quiet and hear yourself breathe, to look at the stars by night and the water by day, go to Bocas Villas.

  • Stayed: January 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank NYCPlanner71
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 16, 2013

I flew down from Ohio to Costa Rica and per Phil's guidance, I made it to his villas in Panama. What a great experience. He picked me up from the water taxis in Bocas from Almirante via Sixaola (border town). What an adventure!

Bocas Villas was incredibly gratifying. Wake up, snorkel, go fishing, relax. I went snorkeling at midnight and caught two king crabs with my hands! They clawed the crap out of me... then we ate them.

Take a boat to town and proceed to Aqua Lounge (if it still exists). Good times!

I highly recommend hanging out in Bocas del Toro and Bocas Villas.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank Blake U
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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