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“Loved it!”
Review of Palmar Beach Lodge

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Palmar Beach Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
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SARATOGA
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“Loved it!”
Reviewed January 19, 2014

It had been a long time since I last stayed this close to a beach and in the woods, in a tent. The facility is tastefully designed and run; the attention to details carried all the way to the shower and toilet booths. The dorm tent that I was in had three bunk beds and two sets of large wooden lockers, and it was still ample room for everyone. (bring your own lock). Lighting in the dorm tent was so dim after dark that you pretty much have to join the others at the lounge/bar which is in the open wooden structure that is also the reception area and restaurant - which I thought was on purpose - to get people to mingle; I enjoyed it. Foods are good and not expensive; dinners are communal. The young couple that runs the facility were attentive and helpful and has a great story to share (of how they got involved and became part owners of the lodge...fascinating and inspirational).

It was a wonderful experience for me to have stayed here and I highly recommend it.

*While the facility has no wifi, it is available at the restaurant a five minute walk down the beach (which when I was there required no password and I was able to access even when the restaurant was closed).

* I finally was able to get info and join the tour of the Nivida Bat Cave from here; the tour was FASCINATING and highly recommended to those that love adventure and are not claustrophobic.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank JANE L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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446 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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  • Sleep Quality
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  • Value
  • Cleanliness
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Malibu, California
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed January 4, 2014 via mobile

The tent lodge is wonderful for those of you that are prepared to chill out and are happy with glamping. The tents were clean and well furnished. The staff was fabulous. They arranged great activities (snorkeling hiking caving dinners). The only challenge is that the beach got crowded during the days with folks from the horribly designed villas and day trippers. In all fairness it was Christmas week and everyplace in the country seemed booked. And the red frog beach is so stunning it attracts many. However before noon and after 5 the beach reverted back to loveliness. Also one of their staff took us in kayaks to deserted beaches when we needed a break. My husband loved the yoga classes. The jungle borders the beach. Filled with animals birds. And the stars at night were breathtaking. The ocean is great to swim in. Loved the place. And the great folks running it.

Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
1 Thank frankiebeer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kalispell, Montana
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 2, 2014

This place was great, clearly some people need to look a little closer before they book. This is no all-inclusive (yay!), the grounds are in a natural state and of course there is sand. Yes, there are a few things that need work, although some are apparently being addressed. The tents are wonderful with comfortable beds and real privacy in spite of canvas walls. There is a locking trunk for your stuff. We never felt any issue with security and I love the sound of rain on the tent (really a tarp shielding the tent), occasionally punctuated by large leaves plopping down. We both felt the electric fan kept us cool enough.

The communal toilets are one of the issues. There seemed to be chronic problems with the water for flushing or the wash basin faucet not working. It was really only an issue of inconvenience, you simply had to walk to one of the other toilets but I wonder if a composting toilet system would be better, however. The communal shower seemed to be on the blink regularly too, but we preferred the solar shower anyway and the volunteers kept it filled. The problems stemmed not from a water shortage, but a system that clearly needed more maintenance than staff had time for.

Yes, there are creepy-crawlies, like the millipedes that migrate up the tent walls. Kind of pretty really and they didn't bother us; we came to experience the tropics not insulate ourselves from them. Red frog beach's eponymous critters were easily found on the property and quite striking. We also saw toucans, oropendulas and manakins. There are sand fleas on the beach but only bad around trees and bushes in the evening and morning. Mosquitos were not a problem.

The beach is very nice and we made frequent use of the boogie boards. Sometimes they would all be rented out, so it would be nice if they added to the collection. You could walk to nearby snorkeling but it was mediocre. We arranged a snorkeling tour, however that was great, very different from the snorkeling we've done elsewhere (USVI, Hawaii, Mexico) with very colorful coral and spider sea stars.

They had a communal kitchen while we were there which wasn't ideal. While everyone seemed to try to clean up after themselves, it wasn't set up to be adequately sanitary. There really needed to be a three basin wash set-up: wash, rinse and bleach. This was a norovirus incident waiting to happen. They were constructing the new kitchen while we were there and apparently the community kitchen is no more. We did participate in their dinners which we thought were fine, particularly the fish dinner prepared by the locals.

We though the service was great and both the staff and volunteers very solicitous of our needs. I find the criticism of the staff in other reviews to be the most surprising. They seemed to be quite busy and not at all indifferent to the guests. The guests themselves were an eclectic group of backpackers and eco-tourists that made for very pleasant meals and lots of conviviality at the bar in the evenings.

All in all one the more memorable and enjoyable places we have stayed. At some level "amenities" and nature are mutually exclusive. If you are afraid to leave the presence of electronics and in-suite bathrooms, stay elsewhere. If you love the sights, sounds and smell of nature this place is nearly perfect.

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank esoteric_1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed January 1, 2014 via mobile

The tent lodge has a fantastic set up, in the jungle/ on the beach. You wake up to the sounds of the wildlife which we thought was very peaceful. The grounds are maintained very well and the bathrooms and showers are impressive. We stayed in a dorm tent due to budget and thought the room was very spacious.
Unfortunately we had four days of rain so felt slightly disappointed but during nice weather this would be a 10/10 holiday.
The restaurant has decent and reasonably priced meals, no guest kitchen though.
The yoga classes are great too!

Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank Lauren_m1989
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
33 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed December 24, 2013

Although I didn´t stay in this place, my girlfriend and I spent quite a few lunchtimes here and a couple of nights. It is right on the Red Frog beach and it is the only reasonably good place to eat in this location. There were lots of young travelers staying here so I think it was a pretty good place to meet people. They do not have wifi here because it is too remote.

I didn´t see the inside of the tents but from the outside you can see that this is not your normal camping, it would be described a "glamping" as the inside of the tents are nicely done up like any other nice hotel room. I think the prices for a private tent from two people was around $40 and for a dorm bunk it was around $13 (although don´t quote me on this).

If you coming to Isla Bastimentos (which you definitely should), you should book this place to stay as it is really paradise..

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank EdBS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed December 11, 2013

This place was close to paradise. Excellent location right on Red Frog Beach. There's hiking in the area, wildlife to see, the beach. Idyllic surroundings for the tents. I stayed in the dorms and they were fine - a little warm at night with just fan, but not too bad. Staff were very friendly and made a point to remember everyone's names. Easy to meet other travelers there as well. Food and drinks were good, nightly happy hour. They do a different meal each evening for dinner.

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Travel_Spanky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quito, Ecuador
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviewed December 4, 2013 via mobile

Stayed at Palmar in October. Palmar is not a traditional campsite. The individual tents are cosy and well maintained with a small fan. Showering is an experience as you pump the water yourself from a supply from fresh rain water. This all adds to your experience of the beaten track. The staff are very friendly and help make the stay more enjoyable. They also share their local knowledge of the island.

Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank Mark S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Palmar Beach Lodge

Property: Palmar Beach Lodge
Address: Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos | Bocas Del Toro, Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 16 Specialty Lodging in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Palmar Beach Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Palmar Beach Lodge has eco-friendly, affordable beachfront accommodations that are one of a kind in Bocas del Toro. Spend your days on the beach and your nights falling asleep to the sounds of the jungle and ocean. Accommodations range from fully equipped bungalows to safari style tents and a cabin dorm. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Palmar Beach Lodge Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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