10 Keys to the Perfect Family Vacation in Bocas del Toro

Your vacation is around the corner and you want to make sure it is one that builds lifelong memories for all the right reasons. Here are our tips for making sure you are going to have a family vacation that is as perfect as possible.

10 Keys to the Perfect Family Vacation in Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro is an amazing vacation spot for families.

1. Don’t stay on the main island.

Isla Colon, or Bocas Town, is the main island of Bocas del Toro and holds the lion’s share of hotels and restaurants. Many assume it’s the most convenient location, but for families that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Bocas Town can get quite rowdy at night, with bars and nightclubs blasting music til the late AM. The island has few beaches to speak of, and not much to do for children.

Other islands are close by, more beautiful, and more kid-friendly. Isla Bastimentos– the island on which we’re located– is famous for it’s perfect beaches and lush rainforests, both of which offer a score of activities. (Check out our virtual resort map!)  At Red Frog Beach, you’ll have extra amenities like restaurants, private pools, cave and island toursjungle zipline, a spa and yoga center, and a world class marina.

 

2. Find kid-friendly accommodations

Not all hotels in Bocas del Toro allow children, choosing instead to cater to the young party crowd or older couples. Even if a hotel doesn’t blatantly disallow kids, it might not have the type of atmosphere or people you want your kids around.

Find a hotel that prides itself on being kid-friendly, as we do at Red Frog Beach. Not only will your child be safer and you more relaxed, there will likely be other kids for yours to play with (and parents for you to meet!)

 

3. Get a house, not a hotel room.

Family Vacation Home Villa at Red Frog Beach

Villas at Red Frog Beach have room for the whole group to feel at home in Bocas del Toro.

Squishing the whole family into a hotel room leads to bickering, tears, and frustration. It doesn’t allow for the space a family needs, nor does it offer a true ‘home’ experience.

Accommodations like the Villas at Red Frog Beach give the family more space, privacy, and flexibility. They also enable you to keep up with the habits that keep you and the family grounded. Family dinners. A bedtime story. Yoga on the balcony. Movie night on the couch.

You can get up to a 6-bedroom Villa at Red Frog Beach Resort– all of which are perfectly located and impeccably designed. Each villa includes a private pool, fully equipped kitchen, daily housekeeping, reliable WIFI, breakfast on the beach, and airport transfer both ways.

 

4. Run on “Panama time”

With so many wonderful things to do in Bocas del Toro, it’s tempting to squeeze too many things into one day. Doing so is a sure-fire way to burn out quickly. Better to give yourself ample time for each activity and actually enjoy it. Going too fast can also be dangerous, given Panama’s thrist-inducing tropical climate.

You’ll also be running on “Panama time” – a phrase we use to describe how life in general moves more slowly in Panama. Even if you and the kids do manage to master a busy schedule, chances are someone or something else won’t. Neither Panama nor your kids are likely to speed up, so you may as well opt for a smooth ride.

 

5. Look for family rates and packages.

Hotels, tour groups, and even restaurants can offer special rates and incentives for families. At Red Frog Beach, for example, we offer a family package that will place you in one of our luxurious villas– complete with private pool, furnished kitchens, and daily housekeeping.

The package also includes daily breakfast on the beach, a zipline canopy tour, family fishing trips, Bar-B-Q events, dual airport transfer, and a private jungle cart in which to explore the island.

Ask about family packages and discounts wherever you go. Many Bocas businesses are owner-operated, giving them the ability to negotiate. It can’t hurt to ask– and you may find yourself saving a lot in the long run.

6. Choose your beaches wisely.

Some beaches in Bocas del Toro are more kid-friendly than others. The same ocean currents that gift Bocas with its excellent surf scene can also make for dangerous swimming, depending on the beach. Bocas also has some of the best coral reef in the region, which is great for snorkeling but not for delicate feetsies.

While Isla Bastimentos has its surf spots, Red Frog Beach also has many shallow, sandy-bottom areas perfect for the kiddos. Another nice beach for kids is Starfish Beach, on the main island of Isla Colon. The water is clear and shallow, and, as the name might imply, glittered with beautiful cartoon-colored Starfish.

 

7. Take a family class at Habla Ya Spanish School.

“School” might not be the first word in your vacation vocabulary, but with the right mindset it can be fun and rewarding. It’s the perfect opportunity to show kids that learning is fun– something one chooses to do, even on vacation (and even Mom and Dad!)

These aren’t your stuffy Spanish classes from high school, either. Bocas del Toro is home to the highly respected language school Habla Ya– and classes aren’t just effective, they’re downright fun. Using a full-immersion technique, they combine classroom time with real-life adventures, like walking tours, souvenir shopping, and eating at local restaurants.

 

8. Widen your kids’ cultural perspective (and your own).

Strolling the colorful streets of Bocas del Toro, you’ll see families with a very different way of life. Rickety houses, bare-bum babies, handmade clothes and simple toys. There’s even an indigenous village, where people live similarly to their ancestors.

Rather than shy away from reality, let your kids observe how families in other cultures live. This is more than a lesson in gratitude. The locals here may never own an iPad, but they have things we often lack: close family ties, time spent outside, and a keen sense of joy and appreciation.

Encourage your kids to observe and interact with the locals here, and do the same yourself. They may start to understand there’s more to life than having the next big thing. One parent told us their most memorable part of the trip wasn’t sailing or snorkeling, but watching their son kick a ball around with the local kids.

9. Encourage them to try something new.

Children of all ages will fall in love with the islands of Bocas del Toro.

Children of all ages will fall in love with the islands of Bocas del Toro.

Many “firsts” are had in Bocas del Toro, whether first time on a surfboard, zip-lining through the jungle, or slapping on a scuba mask. It can be daunting to try such adventurous things, but encourage your kids to experiment. You never know, they may unlock a passion like hiking or sailing that sticks with them the rest of their lives.

In fact, we’ve had kids fall *so* in love with a new island hobby, their parents ended up investing in Red Frog Beach Real Estate.

10. Foster appreciation and interest in the environment.

Bocas del Toro is more than a picturesque paradise. It’s a unique ecosystem with incredible biodiversity and one of the best coral reefs in the world. It’s the perfect opportunity to instill your kid with a greater awareness and appreciation of the environment.

Take a guided tour, and encourage your kids to actively listen to the guide’s commentary. Show interest in your surroundings, point out neat things like animals, flowers, and birds. Give your kids a healthy sense of awe in the world around them; it’s one of the best gifts you can give them.

 

Red Frog Beach Receives International Property Awards

Bocas del Toro, Panama

November 2015

Red Frog Beach Island Community Recognized by the International Property Awards: Top Honors for Best Leisure Development and Best Residential Landscape Architecture in Panama

The International Property judging committee in London (chaired by two members of the House of Lords) reviewed hundreds of developments and Red Frog Beach located in Bocas del Toro, Panama has been awarded as a finalist in these categories for

Panama:

  • Best Residential Landscape Architecture
  • Best Leisure Development

 

Panama has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies in the world that has attracted the attention of foreign investors because of the dollarized currency, 1st class healthcare, political stability and one of the best residency incentives for people looking to buy a vacation/retirement home.

Because of the country’s quiet boom, numerous real estate projects are attracting people from all over the world. Red Frog Beach stands out among all these developments because it is the most successful island resort in Panama and located on the Caribbean side of the country with the best beaches and world-renowned tropical forests. Few Caribbean locations can offer real estate in a setting as unique as this one with 1st class infrastructure and all the incentives that Panama has to offer.

Oceans Group International took over the island project in 2009 is proud to be recognized internationally for the resort’s Landscape Architecture and as a Top Leisure Development. The resort includes a large protected Nature Preserve adjacent to the National Marine Park on the island and the company has completed a reforestation project of over 60 acres caused by cattle grazing. Hence, there is more vegetation and tress at the resort than before the resort development began!

Red Frog Beach recently announced the beginnings of implementing a solar power project that will make the resort one of the largest centralized solar resorts in Central America. They also announced an affiliation with the University of Minnesota for students to study in this unique part of the world.

Steven Bolton of Oceans Group International is pleased that the island property has received this recognition: “This award recognizes that the resort compliments the natural beauty of this unique archipelago community. As the largest employer in the region, we credit our employees for their commitment to create something beautiful that invites people from all over the world to visit this special place.

Contact:

www.redfrogbeach.com

Island Real Estate, contact: 888.220.5602 realestate@redfrogbeach.com

Vacation, contact: 888.655.9573 info@redfrogbeach.com

*****

The International Property Awards is in its 22nd year and the largest and most prestigious property competition in the world. This year in excess of 2,000 companies from over 100 different countries took part.

Judging is carried out through a process involving a panel of over 70 experts covering every aspect of the property business. The judges not only look for the most impressive and innovative projects, they also examine the sustainability and eco-friendliness of every property and development.

The Rebirth of Red Frog Beach

Nine years ago the Red Frog Beach Island Resort project started. A small group of individuals purchased the land bordering Red Frog Beach, Turtle Beach, North Beach and Cayman (coves) Beach. Most of the land was sold by the Motta family who for 18 years had taken care of the land and improved it with tree plantations, bridges and pathways. However, the cattle grazing on the island caused deforestation on a large section of the island that was leading to erosion problems. It was on this deforested section of land that the Red Frog Beach Resort would build individual homes, and by removing the cattle, allow the natural vegetation to grow back.

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7 Frequently Asked Questions When Traveling to Panama

Here are 7 of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Panama to help you make plans and enjoy your trip! Please contact us with any questions you have about traveling to Panama or Bocas del Toro.

Is Panama safe?

Yes! Panama is safer than most big U.S. cities. It is the safest country in the region and one of the safest in Latin America.  That said, use common sense and don’t wander in poor areas at night, use only authorized yellow taxis, and do not leave your valuables unattended at the beach.

7 Tips for Panama tripsWhen is the best time to book my visit to Bocas del Toro?

Panama is a year-round attraction. The temperature hardly varies, hovering at about 80 degrees fahrenheit.  The sun shines everyday, all year-round.  We like to say October thru November is the “green” season for bringing the most rain to nurture our thriving ecosystem, but there is still some sun everyday, and possibly some rain, too. Contact us to discuss how the best time for you might vary based on particular activities such as sport fishing or surfing.

Will it be a problem if I don’t speak Spanish?

Not a problem!  Most Panamanians in Panama City and Bocas del Toro speak English, along with other languages.  Panama is an international crossroads where English has been established. Panamanians who cater to tourists are especially comfortable with speaking English.

Do I need a visa/passport to visit Panama?

Not typically.  A visa is required if you intend to work/study/live here.  A passport is required for trips of up to 180 days.  Note: a law requires people entering Panama to have at least 3 months before the expiration on his/her passport, so plan accordingly.

What’s the best way to get to Panama?

From the U.S. there are many direct flights to Panama: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, TX, Houston, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, NJ, Orlando, Tampa, and Washington D.C..  From Canada, Copa has direct flights from Montreal and Toronto.  KLM flies direct from Amsterdam, and Iberia from Madrid. There is also a direct flight from Paris. As of 2014, Southwest flies direct to San Jose, Costa Rica which is very close to Bocas del Toro by regional airline or chartered boat transportation.

What is the currency?

The U.S. dollar, also referred to as a balboa.  No currency exchange hassles!  It’s one of Panama’s great conveniences.

What is the number of the Tourism Hotline?

Just call 311. Operators speak English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. They will advise you if you are having a problem and give you general tourism advice.

Things to do: Isla Bastimentos’s Chocolate Farm

Where chocolate grows on trees!

If you are visiting Panama, touring the chocolate farm on our island is a must.  CNN says it’s one of Panama’s top 11 things to do.

The History of Chocolate in Panama

things to do in Bocas del toro: cacao farm

Visit local, organic, cacao farm on Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro

To early Central American Tribes and even the ancient Mayan and Aztec communities, the cacao plant was very valuable, even used as currency.  As immigrants came to Panama from the other Caribbean Islands, they bought land and employed the native peoples in the production of the plant.  Then, with the discovery of America, chocolate was introduced to Europe and there it was transformed into the product we know today.

In recent times, Ngobe natives have bought back their land and continued production themselves.  At present, about 30 indigenous families own the Oreba Cooperative…Oreba meaning “chocolate” in the Ngobe language.  The Oreba Shop is located on Bocas del Toro on Isla Bastimentos.

Panama’s Chocolate Today

Oreba Chocolate is considered by Swiss experts to be among the finest in the world.  Mix the paste grinded from seed with some sugar and milk, and you’ll get milk chocolate, or leave it without and you’ll get dark chocolate.  These Ngobe families pack all of their products by hand and export them to Switzerland or sell locally.  For a fascinating “plant to product” presentation visit: http://thekatecoast.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/a-magical-place-where-chocolate-grows.html

Chocolate Farm Tours

On Isla Bastimentos, at the top of the highest hill just above the rainforest canopy, you’ll find Oreba Chocolate Farm.  From Red Frog Beach, it’s about a 25 minute hike.  Get ready to roast, grind and sample the goods!!…..and don’t forget to take home some chocolate nibs!

Dive Panama: 2 Oceans in 1 Trip

Dive at the "Galapagos of the Caribbean" in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Dive at the “Galapagos of the Caribbean” in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Panama is easily one of the top 5 diving destinations in the world.  Worldwide experts have called our region in Bocas del Toro the ”Galapagos of the Caribbean.”  Its rich biodiversity comes of its privileged geographical location. 1600 islands comprise Panama and from it’s mountainous interior flow 500 streams and rivers draining into both the Pacific and Caribbean Oceans. Bocas del Toro (one of the 9 main Islands) is the most popular dive destination in the country.

What You’ll See Diving Here

On the Caribbean side (our side), say hello to over 250 reef and gamefish, 52 kinds of different coral and more than a dozen species of sea turtles! You’ll fin past nurse sharks, stingrays, dolphins, lobster, starfish, seahorses and vase sponges–all thriving among the dramatic and diverse reefscapes of Bocas del Toro.

On the Pacific side, look for whales, dolphins, black marlin and even the 400-pound jewfish!  Enjoy amazing volcanic formations and abyssal drop-offs.

There’s more.  Weather permitting, it’s possible to dive the famous Panama Canal and see the first sunken trans-isthmian railroad and the 19-century trains that ran on it to build the Canal.

All in all, your diving experience exploring Panama’s underwater worlds should leave you astonished, amazed and “sea”duced!

How You’ll Get Here to Bocas del Toro

You decide:  Fast and convenient or slower and less-costly. There are 3 main options with Panama City as your start point:

  • a flight from Panama City to Bocas del Toro (45 minutes.)

  • a bus from Panama City to Almirante (10 – 11 hours) and a boat to Bocas del Toro (30 minutes.)

  • driving from Panama City to Almirante (10 – 11 hours) and then a Ferry to Bocas del Toro (2 hours.)

Experienced diving instructors and friendly local companies will help advise and design the perfect tour for you and your party.

 

Love to hear about what you are looking for when you dive! Underwater architecture? Swimming mammals? Bright coral and reef fish? Join the discussion!

11 Reasons to Say “I Do” to Beach Destination Weddings

After experiencing a destination beach wedding in Bocas del Toro, Panama, it’s hard to imagine another wedding venue that compares.

Destination beach wedding in Bocas del Toro Panama Caribbean

Make your vows on a secluded Caribbean island with a romantic Red Frog Beach wedding.

Think about experiencing something like this. The wedding begins at 5:00 pm.  Guests walk on the sandy pathway through the tropical forest towards the sparkling Caribbean Sea.  Everyone has enjoyed breathtaking scenery, lively coral reefs, Panama’s colorful birds, dolphin families and maybe a monkey or two.  As you now approach the beach, waves gently wash to shore in rhythm. You feel  the soft breeze of ocean’s air  and see a stunning sunset spreading through the sky.  All of this beauty fills you and the people you love most. All are transported into sublime, pure, natural beauty.  It’s just one of those moments that will never be forgotten. Cradled in this moment, in this dreamy, far away place, two hearts are bound together.

Cut! — Switch to indoor wedding scene at the clubhouse in your hometown…

Which wedding celebration connects with you?

Here are 11 more reasons for a destination beach wedding:

  • Less expensive than you think.
  • The couple only pays flights for themselves.
  • Guests pay their way.  (After all, it’s a vacation for them, too!)
  • Stay a few extra days in paradise in a private villa for your honeymoon. Booyah!  2 birds with one stone.
  • Stunning, unforgettable venue. Nature’s price tag? 0 dollars.
  • Fewer guests.  Close family and friends make an intimate and memorable event for everyone.
  • Stress-free.  A wedding planner is always provided at your destination of choice. Any worries for your all-inclusive destination wedding are handled by them.

  • Plan several days of fun events for your guest to choose. Try SCUBA or snorkeling, the zipline, hiking to secret beaches, oceanside bonfires, a massage on the quiet beach, or Yoga for the group.

  • Once-in-a-lifetime experience, in a once-in-a-lifetime place.

  • Red Frog Beach weddings are out of the hurricane-zone in Panama, so you can come any time of year!

  • Getting the most romantic, beautiful back-drop ever.  That’s E-V-E-R!

What makes a beach wedding special for you?

 

That’s Swell! An Epic Surf season in Bocas del Toro

We thought last surf season was big.

Surfing is incredible right now in Bocas del Toro, Panama…and when the swells are here, you can count on some of the best waves and breaks the Caribbean has to offer!  You might also be surprised by who you run into–Sonny Garcia, former world surf champion, and his friend and pro surfer, Kelly Slater are here.  What kind of Surf Report would bring these guys to Bocas? Check out this.

world-class surfing in Bocas del Toro Panama

World-class surfing in Bocas del Toro, Panama

surf in the Caribbean

Waves for beginners and pro surfers near Red Frog Beach

The most popular wave, known as “Silverbacks,“ is located on the NW corner of Isla Bastimentos which is less than 10 minutes by boat ride from Red Frog Beach docks.  How do you describe these Silverbacks?…Magicseaweed says, “Silverbacks (off of Isla Bastimentos) is Bocas’ big wave spot and it’s the only right reef break in the zone. The ride is short, but the drops are long as the wave ledges up into a large barrel. Boards over 7′ are recommended to surf this spot. It needs a good size swell to start breaking and will hold over 20 ft (6m).”

Sunny Garcia says Silverbacks is likely the “heaviest wave I’ve ever tried to surf….and that is why I’ve been surfing a few other spots around Bocas :)  The waves of Bocas are varied, some for the beginner and some for the expert.”

                 Slater and Garcia (Jan. 2015)

Come meet up with these guys and score some of the largest and heaviest, right here from Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

 

Surfing hot-spot! Red Frog Beach, Panama

Surf with the best in Panama’s Caribbean at Bocas del Toro

Panama Flag - Can't miss it on Flag Day

Panama is the Best Place for Your Well-Being

For the Life that You Will Feel Good About: Move to Panama

Should we credit it to our seco, over-the-top holidays, or our multi-cultural heritage? In a recent study where the United States, England, Japan or France didn’t rank in the top 10, Panama tops all countries as the best for your well-rounded physical and emotional well-being. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index shows that Panama is the most likely place for you to enjoy living your life.

The poll evaluates worldwide responses from five general areas:

  • Purpose
  • Social
  • Financial
  • Community
  • Physical

Not only does Panama have the best overall scores, but it also has a significant margin over runner-ups Costa Rica and Denmark for the percentage of people who are thriving in at least 3 categories, according to the poll.

Here are the top 10 results:

  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Denmark
  4. Austria
  5. Brazil
  6. El Salvador
  7. Sweden
  8. Guatemala
  9. Canada

USA Today broke down the numbers from the poll here.

This means that we would be happy to have you as our neighbors, and you wouldn’t regret it either.  If you aren’t ready to move to Panama, at least come visit as often as you can.  It is, after all, for your own good.

Look What People Are Saying

Alex had the Massage at El Susurro Spa

Alexandra Kovacova had a rejuvenating massage from our French Masseuse, Ludo.  Here’s what she thought about our El Susurro Spa in the tropical island forest:

At the Spa

When walking up the steps, I was amazed by the spa design completely blended into the natural landscape. Such a peaceful place. You can just listen to the stream and noises of the jungle and observe the beauty of huge jungle leaves surrounding you.

It sounds like it was good for the muscles, the skin, and the spirit! You can read more about her experience at El Susurro Spa at Red Frog Beach HERE.

El-Susurro-Spa-Red-Frog-Beach-Resort-Bastimentos-1