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?

 

Best of 2013 at Red Frog Beach Resort, Panama

Best of 2013 at the Best place in the Caribbean!

What a year it has been for Red Frog Beach Resort in 2013! By looking deeper into our connection with the island, its pristine beauty and rich history, we were motivated in many areas of growth.  Here are some of our highlights, all benchmarking the way to creating a more valuable guest experience.

JOIN THE 2013 MEMORIES!

Highlights of the Resort and Guests at Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

Highlights of the Resort and Guests at Red Frog Beach, Bocas del Toro, Panama

We have shared these times and lifetime experiences with so many of you!  If you have a travel photo of these or another favorite moment from Bocas del Toro, Panama, please share it with us to add to the Best of 2013 album on Facebook!  We are collecting photos to remember what we all have shared, learned, and experienced this year.  Look up those photos on your phone, camera or computer file and put them to work—the more the merrier!

Without further paragraph, the Best of 2013 list!

  • Featured On Mundo Social TV show and Viajando en Pareja, among other TV shows & movies!
  • Finished hillside construction in Villa neighborhood!
  • El Susurro Spa opening!
  • Redesigned Resort Entrance!
  • Marine Fuel Station at the Marina!
  • Grand Open House celebration!
  • Opened our Bocas Airport office!
  • New management and menus at Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill!
  • Facebook reaches 1000+ Likes! (how long ‘till 5000?)
  • New English & Spanish Websites!
  • Redesigned All-Inclusive Vacation Packages!

 Don’t forget to join our Best of 2013 Celebration with your travel photos and comments!

El Susurro Spa at Red Frog Beach Resort is Now Open!

El Susurro Spa is now open and taking appointments!

At the heart of our island oasis, find a whispering natural spring, relaxation and bliss.

At the heart of our island oasis, find a whispering natural spring, relaxation and bliss.

What is better than a natural Spa retreat on an intimate Caribbean island, giving you a break between surfing days, tropical forest hikes, an organic cacao farm tour, SCUBA diving, the Best Secret Beaches, and the rest Bocas del Toro, Panama has to offer?

Connect on Facebook

Here is the spa’s Facebook page.
“Like” it and you’ll get our updates, specials, and yoga class announcements.
Leah Kropp, our certified yoga instructor, will be leading classes on Tues/Thurs at 9am on “the Point” by Punta Lava and is available for private sessions.
All of our therapists are licensed and experienced. Let us rebalance your mind, body, and spirit at our beautiful island Spa.
If you would like to book an appointment prior to your visit, please email us at spa@redfrogbeach.com, send us a Facebook message, or call the villa host at 507-655-98970.
We look forward to seeing you soon.

Massage services are available at El Susurro Spa or by appointment in the privacy of your island villa.

Massage services are available at El Susurro Spa or by appointment in the privacy of your island villa.

7 Things to Keep a Beginning Surfer from Looking Like a Greenie

It is a legendary sport for all ages.  But, just how do you break into surfing?  A little hesitant to try?

With December approaching and bringing the surfing season to Bocas del Toro, this is for those who want to learn to surf in the Caribbean this winter.  You can be a beginner surfer without standing out for the wrong reasons.

7 things to keep a beginner surfer from looking like a “greenie”

More than a dozen waves in Bocas del Toro, Panama challenge surfers of all levels

More than a dozen waves in Bocas del Toro, Panama challenge surfers of all levels

1.      Apprenticeship  Taking a lesson isn’t the same as the mentality of openly investing in the sport as an apprentice with a trustworthy, experienced tutor.  They will teach you that this sport is as much about culture as it is about technique, and will hopefully keep you just as much from getting in a fight with other surfers as from getting held in a riptide.

2.      Rashguard Don’t dress for the pool or a regular beach day.  Men and women wear rash guards with their swimsuits to protect their skin from rubbing on the board.  Sun protection is a secondary bonus.

3.      Study  This is homework you do from the beach.  Study the waves before you put your toes in.  Watch for patterns, get to know the wave tendencies and plan your route.

4.      Respect  Respect the locals, respect your realistic ability, and respect the right-of-way to the first person on the wave.  If you have a mentor, show respect for them too.

5.      Location  Call it a “spot.” Prepare with updated surf reports and your mentor, or advice from a local board shop, to find the right current and weather for your experience.  You’ll have more success, and fun, with beginner-friendly waves, a beach break, and a lot of space to yourself.

6.      Endurance  Surfing requires a lot of shoulder and arm strength, core strength and balance, plus the mental stamina to miss the wave or tumble and then paddle back out.  Have patient endurance learning to catch a wave before pushing out too far.  It’s easier to do this at a secluded beginner spot than getting in the way of other surfers already cruising the wave.

With the right waves and coach, you can learn how to surf in Panama

With the right waves and coach, you can learn how to surf in Panama

7.      Vocab  You probably understand a barrel or tube when it comes to describing a wave, but could you identify a cutback move or a duck dive?  While you could ask the locals to explain every other sentence, this is another reason to go with a knowledgeable surfer the first few times you hit the waves.

Enjoy the day, the water, and the company, regardless of how you are able to ride.  Everyone can have a good time and promote positive vibes on the water.

And for the rest of you who have to look out for the beginners on the water, any other tips that should be on this list? What do you recommend for the folks learning to surf?

Red Frog Beach Resort has surfing lessons and excursions available with experienced guides.  Access more than a dozen waves in breathtaking, untouched areas of the Caribbean in Bocas del Toro.

 

 

 

Holiday Month in Panama! 6 National Holidays in November

Panama is at Holiday for the Month of November

Or it can feel that way, at least.

Spend the holiday watching your soccer team with good food and drinks in Bocas del Toro

Spend the holiday watching your soccer team with good food and drinks in Bocas del Toro

If you’re doing business in, through, or about Panama, this is need-to-know information.  You have 11 months to accomplish what you need.  Panamanians are taking off in November.

While a lot of people in Panama are hard at work, with 6 national holidays, and several other provincial holidays, November is a notoriously slow month-to say the least.  Locals often escape the hubbub of Panama City and head to visit family and friends in country towns or make way to the beaches.  If you want parades, dancing in the streets, and lots of Panama’s red, white and blue, this is the time to come.

Plan ahead for ATM’s running out of money and some restrictions on alcohol sales 24-48 hours around the holiday.

Here is the November Holiday rundown:

November 2:   Dia de los Muertos  Celebrated in Panama with reverence for ancestors, this is opposite of the parades and fiestas in Mexico.  Panamanians typically visit cemeteries and are restrained from loud music or buying alcohol.

November 3: Separation Day  This is the beginning of the Fiestas Patrias in November.  Separation Day commemorates Panama’s Civil War and separation from Columbia in 1903

Panama Flag - Can't miss it on Flag Day

Panama Flag – Can’t miss it on Flag Day

November 4: Flag Day  National pride will be at its peak with flags, colors, and décor on about any place possible.

November 5:  Colon Day  Panamanians remember Christopher Columbus who traveled all down the Eastern coast of Panama on his fourth voyage (and rested near Red Frog Beach for a week).  It was also in Colon that Panama’s forces stood against the Columbian army to victory in the separation.

November 10: The Uprising in the Villa de Los Santos  When Panama was under rule of the Spanish Empire, villagers in Los Santos wrote a letter to activist Simon Bolivar for aid in a revolt against the Spanish. The holiday marks the first step towards independence.

November 28:  Independence Day  This is the anniversary from 1821 when Panama declared full independence from Spain and joined the Columbian government (Gran Columbia) for another 80 or so years.

Snorkeling in Panama for the holidays

Snorkeling in Panama for the holidays

This year Panama’s Independence Day falls on Thanksgiving Day as celebrated in the USA.  What are your plans for the November 28th holiday?