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“the best experiences in panama”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Pukalani Hostal

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Pukalani Hostal
Leadville, Colorado
1 review
“the best experiences in panama”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2013

I stayed at pukalani for most of my time in panama, juan is now family to say the least.
custom boat trips (tow surfing), surf spots within walking distance (sometimes with juan) and he is a local board shaper so you can get boards,bikes and kayaks right there at the hostel.
just outside of town and quit beachfront and poolside property.
bbq on the beach on there private dock. I was all around a great experience.
also if your there around full moon, they have a big pool party.
plan on staying longer.....................................................................

make sure to ask juan about the boat tow surfing!
and he does tatoos as well!

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank jungleJaya
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
It was awesome having you here! We did have a good time then. Hope you come back again!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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158 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (18)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2013

Our stay at Pukalani was nothing short of fantastic. My boyfriend and I stayed in a private room. The room was clean, the AC worked great, the bathrooms were spotless and there was even a small counter for food prep with a sink and mini fridge.

The hostal is ideally located just outside of the main tourist strip. It was quiet, right on the beach, and just down the street from Paki Point (a great beach for surfing, drinks and food). You can rent a bike for $5 a day and ride 15 minutes into town or take a cab ($2 per person). Surf boards are also available for rent ($10 a day if I remember correctly?)

Pukalani is a great spot if you're looking for a reasonably priced island getaway. This hostal is hands down the best in town. Great if your looking to party and meet people or relax and read a book in peace. There are always open hammocks and you can take out the kayaks for free.

The best part of our stay was getting to meet and talk with the owners. A fantastic couple (Jose is an award winning surfer, tattoo artist, and surf board maker). His wife is equally as awesome and was extremely helpful when it came to planning our stay.

I would return to Pukalani in a heartbeat and recommend it to anyone that's looking for a peice of affordable paradise in an ideal location.

  • Stayed June 2013
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Helpful?
Thank Lronhubb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
You both were amazing guests and we had a fun time surfing and getting to know you. Also thank you for recommending that your friends stay here. We have two of them here now from your recommendation and they are great as well. Thanks!
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Denver
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2013

After staying in an awful hostel in Bocas City we stumbled on Pukalani Hostel and Im so glad we made the switch!! Pukalani is definitely the best hostel in Bocas!! The owners are very friendly and helpful. They really go out of there way to help their guests. The hostel is clean, safe and has an amazing pool that is right near the ocean. There are daily shuttles back and forth from town and there is affordable bar on the property. Since the hostel is on the water you can also get boats straight to the hostel which is a big plus. If your planing on coming to Bocas, Pukalani is definitely the place to stay!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank orangetiger1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
I want to sincerely thank you for the review and seeing the positives in what we provide. Believe it or not there are people (and reviews) that are upset the shuttle is not a personal service to each guest, rather than appreciative that we offer a free ride to and from town three times a day, instead of being happy to be right on the beach, they are upset it is not closer to town, and instead of glad that there is a bar that serves liquor, beer, and food, they are upset that we, of course then, do not allow outside alcohol (like any other bar).
It is refreshing to get such a positive guest and someone that can appreciate what we offer. Thank you for staying at Pukalani!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 10, 2013

We only agree with the positive comments made in the review titled "Things you need to know" such as "great view, clean, great free shuttle, and nice pool". This hostel is AMAZING!!! The bar in the hostel is awesome - drinks are very cheap & it creates a fun vibe...so big deal if you can't drink your own alcohol, you can do that at home!! Be upfront about your alcohol they'll accommodate you.

In the review "Things you need to know" they also complain that the AC is only on in the dorm rooms overnight...we see this as a very positive thing for 2 reasons - #1: This is better for the environment, which travelling the world, we think is a positive thing! #2: Most people spend their days out of their room exploring & enjoying this beautiful country.

"Things you need to know" also complains that the shuttle is not 2 ways. The taxi back is only $2/person, no matter what taxi you hail & it's worth staying out of the downtown area.

All hostels have rules & Pukalani's are very reasonable! We loved this hostel, and would definitely recommend to friends/family & go back ourselves! The owners are super cool & welcoming, we had a great surf lesson from their son :) Great ocean view, lovely pool, rooms cleaned daily, private bathrooms & AC in rooms, free towels (with $5 deposit), cool outdoor kitchen, free kayaks...all around FANTASTIC!!
STAY HERE, STAY HERE, STAY HERE!

Stayed June 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Andrea L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
Hey chicas! Thanks for the counter review to the previous negative one posted. Its great that you girls were here at the same time as the guests from the "things you need to know" post and are able to put your view on how things are here and what appreciative guests think of the hostal. You girls are awesome. We enjoyed having you. Good luck with your further travels!
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San Francisco, California
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 9, 2013

We traveled all over Panama and Bocas Del Toro and stayed in hotels and hostels on most of the islands. When traveling I've realized its all about the people you meet not just the places you see. Pukalani was by far the best accommodation and it even had a pool and surf board rentals.

We met some great people and used the kitchen at the Pukalani. If you are going to Bocas Del Toro Panama make sure to stay at the Pukalani hotel and hostel!

Room Tip: Dorm rooms are affordable but hotel rooms are luxurious.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Jcunningham15
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
I am flattered by your review! It is awesome to know you had been to so many other hostals and hotels around Bocas and enjoyed our place the best! So happy to help you have a great time here in Bocas.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Collins, Colorado
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 9, 2013

Big clean pool, beach, free kayaks, bikes for rent, tons of hammocks, coconut trees (and, more importantly, coconut drinks!), dock with cabana and billiards table, great happy hour, tattoo shop, CLEAN CLEAN spacious rooms with AC, awesome water pressure (hot water!), free WiFi, THIS HOSTAL IS AMAZING!!!! It's about a 5 minute ($2) taxi ride from downtown Bocas, but the hostal provides a free shuttle three times a day at 7am, noon, and 7pm. Perfect. They have a little kitchen stocked with pots and pans, etc. that is kept super clean.

We stayed in an expensive hotel our first night, and stumbled upon a sign for Pukalani at the Dive Shop in town. SO GRATEFUL we did, because we spent the rest of our trip at Pukalani. They helped us arrange a boat tour to the other islands, and shared their amazing life stories with us. A little respect goes a LONG way at Pukalani. The couple that run it are incredible, incredible people. They speak both Spanish and English fluently, which was really helpful. The staff is super friendly too, one girl was learning English while we were there, and was super tolerant of our horrible spanish.

I would ABSOLUTELY recommend staying at Pukalani.

Room Tip: They're all good. Seriously.
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank RebeccaFromCO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 18, 2013
Thanks so much for the awesome review! We are happy to have great guests like you. It really is a pleasure to have nice people and we are glad to do anything needed to help your stay be the best as possible. Come back anytime!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Québec
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 9, 2013

Let start with the good points. The Hostel has a great view and it is very clean... But, somes things aren't say when you book. You need to know that because they run a little bar in the hostel, they don't want you to bring your own alcool. You need to buy it from them. If you don't, then they charge you 10$ per bottle to give you the authorization to drink it. They do no exception... so be ready to pay.

They also say the hostel has air conditionning. But, if you are sleeping in a dorm, yours will only work during a part of the night. Also, because they want to save on air conditionning fees, they full the dorms before the rooms. That means that even if all the hostel's dorms are empty, yours can be at full capacity.

They have a shuttle 3 times a day which is great because the hostel is far from downtown (grocerys, restaurants,...). But, the shuttle is only one way. So you will always have to pay a taxi anyway.

Also know that the hostel is very near from some kind of sewers, so the smell is not always great.

Otherwise, we enjoy the pool. But, we wouldn't go back there because they have too many rules unsaid and unclear.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Carol-Anne T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
JuanCaraballo, Owner at Pukalani Hostal, responded to this review, June 10, 2013
Thank you for stay and review, as well as the compliment on cleanliness, our staff works hard to clean the rooms daily. We are sorry that you felt misinformed about the rules of the hostel, however we do our best to make sure that everyone knows the very few and basic rules. There is a large wall at the front door with the rules painted in large, colorful font. Also, the checkout time is listed on the card signed by every guest at the initial check-in.

As with any other restaurant, bar, or hostel with a bar we do not allow outside alcohol, however we understand the travelers tight budget, therefore if you prefer to have your own bottles you just have to pay the $10 fee. As I remember, your group of 5 was happy to pay just $2 each to enjoy your bottle all night. The next night I also offered everyone in the hostel a free drink at the bar hoping (however unsuccessful) to avoid any "sneaking" of bottles. Of course when another bottle was discovered in plain sight of staff your group was asked to pay the fee.

To address the air conditioning issue, we do provide air conditioning in every room. In the dormitories it functions at night, from 9pm-6am. We are conscience of the environment, not to mention the entire island of Colon is powered by one generator, because of this we do fill the dorms, which consist of 6 beds, so "full capacity" consists of 6 people at most. We have no preference of whether you want a private or dorm, of course the private rooms cost more than the dorms, it is the guests choice though of which you prefer.

The shuttle is a free service to all guests. Guests can leave from the hostel to town at the scheduled times or if the guest is in town they can come back with the shuttle from town to the hostel. It is not a private, personal service for each guest. We will be as accommodating as possible of course; for example, several guests choose to get out at the first grocery store on the way, quickly buy their items and catch the shuttle on its way back.

Lastly, to address the smell, right now the tide is low in Bocas and the smell is the seaweed that gets stuck on every shore on the island, however we pay workers to clean near our hostel regularly.

Again, sorry you felt misinformed, we hope this response helps future guests.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pukalani Hostal

Property: Pukalani Hostal
Address: Playa Mango, Bocas Town, Isla Colon, Panama
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Colon > Bocas Town
Hotel Style:
Ranked #13 of 41 Specialty Lodging in Bocas Town
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Also Known As:
Pukalani Hostal Bocas Del Toro, Panama - Bocas Town

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