Take a closer look at an island off Panama’s Caribbean coast.
Text by Eleanor W. Hand
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Making the Journey
Motorboats ferry guests and supplies to Isla Bastimentos. Visitors reach the island via a one-hour flight from Panama City to the town of Bocas del Toro, then a boat ride.
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Getting Around Town
Only one small town graces Isla Bastimentos. Small boats and dugout canoes called cayucos are a popular mode of transportation.
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Seeing the Flora
Tropical plants grow profusely, thanks to regular showers and abundant sunshine.
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Relishing the Natural Setting
Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park boasts 32,700 acres of tropical rain forest, mangrove wetlands, and waters rich in sea life. As a result, a diverse mix of species call the area home. One of the island’s eye-catching species is the tiny red frog known as rana roja.
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Dining Like a Gourmet
Writer Jeff Book dined at La Loma Jungle Lodge’s communal table on dishes like fish with yucca in lemon grass sauce; smoked chicken, avocado, and white bean salad; and pineapple-mango crumble.
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Meeting Friendly People
Henry Escudero, co-owner of La Loma with his wife, Margaret Ann, mixes a lunch salad in the kitchen adjacent the dining area. In its remote locale, the lodge’s self-sufficiency is a necessity.
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Playing Like a Kid Again
Off the coasts of Isla Bastimentos, opportunities abound for surfing, kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, and fishing.
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Discovering Hidden Treasures
Deserted beaches stretch along nearby uninhabited Cayos Zapatillas. Venture into the clear water to see coral reefs.
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Relaxing in Style
Sink into a hammock on the porch of a Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge guest cottage.
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Making New Friends
Guests at Tranquilo Bay discuss the day’s sightings, ranging from white-face capuchin monkeys to iridescent blue morpho butterflies. Most of the property’s 110 acres remain untouched, providing prime wildlife viewing.
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Finding Your Happy Place
Tranquilo Bay’s dock serves as an over-water center for kayaking, fishing, and lounging.