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

Reinventing an Island Bar & Grill: Punta Lava

New Owners and a Menu Makeover at Punta Lava Bar & Grill

We are excited to introduce two dedicated owners at Punta Lava Bar & Grill and a menu makeover!

With a location one of Panama’s favorite beaches, Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill offers stunning views, beachfront access, and sea-to-table freshness that satisfies guests day and night.  Recently, Punta Lava has been reinvented by two innovative, dedicated and energetic owners.  We are excited to introduce Rich Littlefield and Kristie Craven, each with 20+ years of valuable experience from Tahoe restaurants to hot bars on Waikiki.  They are the ones bringing the goodness to your plate, and your glass, right here on Red Frog Beach.

Here’s the scoop from our Q/A with them about their love for Bocas, why they relocated here from Hawaii, and how they are making Punta Lava better for guests and the island community.

Inside Punta Lava Restaurant in Bocas Del Toro

Order a Coco Loco at the bar, or the day’s catch of Lobster–you won’t be disappointed

What attracted you to Bocas del Toro & Red Frog Beach?  What attracted us to Bocas and Red Frog is the natural and unspoiled beauty that exists here.   We were enamored by the panga boat taxis to get around, the clear warm tropical waters, the surfing, the diving and the variety of animals found in the jungle here.

We could also clearly see that tourism was relatively new to the area and growing and that Bocas was becoming a destination that people were discovering worldwide.   We thought that Panama was the new Costa Rica and very much like Hawaii must have been fifty to sixty years ago and that the timing was right to locate opportunities here.

When did you know you wanted to run a restaurant as a career? What is the best part?  Kristie and I [Rich] both knew that we always wanted to work for ourselves on a dream or project that we could have direct effects on.  The corporate mega hotels in Hawaii are too ingrained with red tape, bottom lines and corporate policies…  The “best part” we both believe is being able to create nightly exciting specials that we feel the guests will enjoy and then chatting with the guests to hear their feedback and stories about where they are from and how they, too, discovered Bocas.

Eat at Punta Lava on Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro

Get five-star service at this beachside bar and grill

Who is in the kitchen on a typical night? Our executive Chef Kinga Samudia is in charge with his Sous Chef Yasir creating incredible food combinations and sauces.    Kinga is from Bocas and has owned his own restaurant here in the past.   He also has cooked in Italy for four years, Thailand for two and Malaysia for one year before returning to Panama.    With this wide variety of cooking knowledge coupled with his incredible ability to speak five languages he is truly an asset and superstar that we are proud to have and showcase here at Punta Lava.

What’s Chef Kinga cooking tonight?  Though we change up our nightly menu every night here we strive to have Lobster on the menu as much as possible.   In addition to that we also have local caught octopus (pulpo) and sashimi grade yellow and black fin tuna on the menu most nights of the week.

What is it like behind the scenes at Punta Lava? A typical day and night at Punta Lava is much different than most restaurants in the states or surrounding developed areas.   We work with over 25 different local fisherman, farmers, bread bakers, and jungle fruit collectors in order to write our menu daily and keep our guest coming back for more.

What has impressed you about Bocas del Toro? What has impressed us the most about Bocas Del Toro are the friendly people: local people as well as the array of tourists from around the world who also love Bocas.  In addition to that is the bountiful availability of seafood and produce found in the surrounding ocean and jungle.

What do you hope to add to the island? We hope to bring … consistently great food and five star service.   This combination back in Hawaii, coupled with the aloha spirit, has made the Hawaiian islands a legendary destination location…We hope to see happen here in gorgeous Bocas Del Toro.

Restaurant in Bocas del Toro Red Frog Beach

Refresh at Punta Lava

What is the Fan-Favorite drink at Punta Lava? Our most revered drink here at Punta Lava would be a toss-up between “Snappers Rum Punch,” which has six fruits and two different rums in it and has a phenomenal balance and texture to it, and our famous “Coco-Loco Surprise,” which is one fresh coconut opened, the water blended with coconut puree, Malibu rum and Seco Herrano (local sugar cane liquor) and then poured back in the coconut and topped with a garnish of toasted coconut.  Yum!

Featured Again! A World-traveler from Slovokia Shares Her Favorite Things at Red Frog Beach

We are happy to have many kinds of guests at Red Frog Beach, from celebrities to college students, wedding parties to single travelers and more. Sometimes we get to read how they feel about their experience with us through blogging and social media.  Thanks to all our guests who keep in touch with us–you are all part of building our character at Red Frog Beach Resort!

Recently, Alex, expert traveler writer of CrazySexyFunTraveler.com, stayed at the Red Frog Beach Villas for several days.  We were delighted to hear about her coming after knowing her reputation for finding unique adventures and specialty destinations around the world.

Read about what she learned to do, what she likes most about a private pool, and what is on her to-do list for the next time she is here.  Thanks, Alex, for sharing your story!   We hope to see you sooner than later on your next trip to Central America.  (Her post here http://www.crazysexyfuntraveler.com/red-frog-beach-resort/)

Red-Frog-Beach-Bastimentos-13 Alex

Celebrate Carnival 2014 with Panama!

Celebrate Carnival 2014 with Panama!

It is a 5-day event unlike any other in the country, and Panama City hosts the 2nd-largest Carnival celebration in the world.  Think you can dance party non-stop with the best of them? Keeping pace with this crowd would be proof.

Like to party non-stop? Join us for Carnival 2014 in Panama

Like to party non-stop? Join us for Carnival 2014 in Panama

Doing business in Panama?  Don’t think about it for another week while locals are donning costumes, turning up their speakers, dancing and dancing some more–then recovering from Carnival.

Hotels and restaurants host musicians and special events in order to draw the crowd their direction; check your favorite spots for what they have scheduled through the weekend.

History of Carnival

With its roots in Catholicism, the premise of Carnival is getting rid of your sins and preparing to start the Lent period.  Through time it has evolved to an opportunity to indulge before Lent and then just an excuse to let loose like never before.  Panamanians and visitors dancing in the streets have little worry about anyone’s religious practices through the modern Carnival festival.

Carnival 2014 Schedule in Panama

Panamanians in every city will be celebrating.  Panama City hosts the largest Carnival in the country, and each region loosely follows the same schedule.

FRIDAY: Carnival starts the Friday before Ash Wednesday, which for 2014 Carnival is February 28.  Friday night, expect an opening ceremony of sorts.  In Panama City there will be a Carnival queen and attendants presented to symbolically look over the following days’ parades and parties.  Dancing in the streets begins!

SATURDAY: By afternoon, people begin to join the street festival again.  There is a small parade and all day and night you’ll find pockets of various music and crowds moving from one stereo to another.  Vendors set up early with goods from crafts to food, drinks and water balloons.

SUNDAY: Traditionally, the Sunday festival and parades honor Panama’s colorful national costume called pollera.

MONDAY:  Ready for more parades, music and dancing?

TUESDAY:  March 4 will offer the biggest party of all.  Over-the-top parade entries show the competitive spirit within the town to put on the most elaborate show.  Spectators from all backgrounds wander through town with festive costumes, masks, tossing confetti of their own and drink and dance all through the night.  The festival is symbolically over when someone burns a sardine on the beach on the morning of Ash Wednesday.

Expect the Carnival vigor to last until sunrise on Wednesday, even if you don’t.

Are you more adventurous on vacation?

There are a lot of reasons to travel, and one that regularly tops the list is the need to just get away.  There is a lot to getaway from: work responsibilities, busy schedules, your hometown, cold and snow, and stress.  But do you sometimes travel to get away from your normal self?

In a recent article on LandLopers, Matt Long proposes that many travelers throw their usual inhibitions out and say yes at the chance to bungee jump off a stadium in South Africa, when “the thought of a nearby bungee spot has honestly never occurred to me,” he said.

Call it crazy, courage, flexibility, or open-mindedness, the idea is that these traits increase while inhibitions, fears, and walls come down when we are traveling.

Why is it that people are suddenly more eager to try activities, food, and experiences when they are farthest from home?  And does it start the moment of getting off the plane or a day or two into the trip?

Zipline in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

What fears have you conquered while traveling? Done something crazy you wouldn’t have done otherwise?

We see this in Bocas del Toro with Resort guests who might otherwise be petrified of heights who end up wanting round-2 on the Zip Line Canopy Tour (we don’t need to discuss some first-hand experience with this one).  Others, typically uncomfortable with swimming can’t get enough snorkeling time with neon fish, large starfish, and harmless sharks in the vibrant coral reefs.

For others, it is hard enough to get on the intimate domestic flight to Bocas, where there is a beautiful chance to appreciate local Caribbean lifestyle without a “super” shopping center.

Perhaps that’s why guests appreciate the villas and private pools so much–there are plenty of thrilling and new fish, hikes, waves, food, villages, vistas, people, tropical wildlife, and natural attractions to encounter during the days, that it is nice to relax in a place that feels like home at night.  Unwind on the sofa, patio, or by the pool–while charting the next day’s possibilities.

It is probably good for us to travel and discover these new sides of ourselves.  It can bring our everyday selves and the inner adventurer closer together.

What have you overcome while traveling that you wouldn’t have otherwise?