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?

 

Swap the Taxi for… Water Taxi!

In Bocas del Toro, there are a few paved roads and even fewer cars.  At the same time, there are thriving communities on the main Isla Colon and out on several other surrounding islands.  From daily tasks including the job commute and household shopping to surfing and excursions, the regular way around the Bocas del Toro archipelago is best done by boat.

Water Taxi is the local way to travel in Bocas del Toro

Water Taxi is the local way to travel in Bocas del Toro

Along the waterfront in Bocas Town on Isla Colon there are many water taxi options.  Jampan Tours is one that runs regular routes back and forth to Isla Bastimentos, as well as other places on demand.  The Red Frog Resort also can help arrange water travel around the islands as you need it.

Top 6 Reasons to Appreciate The Panga*

*Panga= Bocas del Toro term for the typically fiberglass motorboat; most common transportation choice of locals and used for water taxi.  Parks on a beach or at a dock.Appreciate the Panga: Water Taxi in Bocas del Toro
  1. Sightseeing every minute.  Bocas del Toro is no place to have your nose in a smartphone (or newspaper?).  Keep your eyes open and on the wonderland around you and you’ll spot starfish in the water underneath your ride or even dolphins playing alongside.
  2. Schedule? It’s a fluid term.  Account for the laid-back Island Time Zone that you enter in Bocas del Toro.  Also, some water taxis have covered tops, but weather can still be an influence in water conditions.  Embrace the easy going vibes as an unexpected opportunity.
  3. Anyway you like it.  Go from Isla Bastimentos to uninhabited Zapatilla Cay for postcard-worthy snorkeling, out to a local favorite surf spot, a restaurant on another island, or anywhere else in the region for just a few dollars.  No traffic, no honking, just open air and your adventure ahead.
  4. It’s Local.  Panga is the transportation of choice for most locals, including water taxi service.  These small boats might serve for groceries one day and be your coach to paradise the next.  They are crucial to local culture and economy.
  5. Early to Bed.  Sunset around here is about
    Water Taxi access beats having a Rental Car any day.

    Water Taxi access beats having a Rental Car any day.

    7pm year-round, so most of the regularly scheduled services will end with the last ride at 6:30.  Arrange later services as necessary with reputable companies that have well-lit boats.  Or, pick up drinks in the afternoon and take them back to party at your villa poolside at night.

  6. Language Lessons.  Water Taxi drivers will be bi-lingual in English and Spanish.  Practice your phrases and learn some new ones on the ride!

Have you taken a water taxi?  What would you add to the list?  What favorite memories do you have from your ride or the driver?

The Best of the Caribbean (hint, it’s in Panama)

The Caribbean has been the top cruise destination for years, and consistently is among the most popular world destinations for holiday breaks, weddings and honeymoons, and special occasions.

Red frog beach caribbean

Red Frog Beach on Isla Bastimentos (Bastimentos Island) in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Though the Caribbean Sea includes dozens of countries and territories, each with unique personality variations and attractions, these Caribbean characteristics keep a variety of travelers coming (and coming back) every month of the year: Weather, Water, and Beaches.

Come to the Caribbean for blissfully warm weather and sunshine, reliably about 80F anytime of year.  When dreamers picture long beaches and warm, crystal blue water for swimming and splashing or snorkeling and scuba diving, the Caribbean is the place that fulfills the image.

Get the Best of the Caribbean at Isla Bastimentos

Want to know why Budget Traveler listed Isla Bastimentos among “10 Great Islands You’ve Never Heard of?”  The Bocas del Toro archipelago is along Panama’s Caribbean coast and boasts the best of these Caribbean characteristics and more.

The Best of the Caribbean is in Panama

The Best of the Caribbean is in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Weather at Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro

For weather, the unique geographical layout keeps Isla Bastimentos hurricane-free while most of the Caribbean is seasonally at-risk. The Marina is a sailor’s haven year-round, and the surf is great for a variety of activities.  Being in the tropics, we get rain to keep the environment fresh, and an intermittent morning drizzle will usually give way to sunshine and bliss through the afternoon and evening.

Water of Panaman’s Caribbean

The water here is not only brilliantly turquoise and clear, but we are blessed to be near the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park and enjoy many species of rare tropical wildlife from Wizard beach bocas del torostrawberry poison-dart frogs (harmless unless you ingest the venom) to toucans, as well as outstanding thriving coral reefs and water conditions for surfers, divers, kayakers and swimmers alike.

Beaches of Isla Bastimentos, Bocas del Toro

What about the beaches? Well there’s a more complete breakdown of the beaches of Isla Bastimentos here but we’ll just say that travelers come from around the world, any time of year, to experience the soft, white sand and capture the untouched vistas.

Take it from Travel Channel, MSNBC, or see them for yourself, these beaches are not to be missed.

The Bottom Line

Boat on Sea Red Frog ResortIt is hard to argue the beaches and rich environment.  On top of all that, Bocas del Toro maintains the genuine culture.  For travelers wanting a boxed vacation special from high rise hotels, this isn’t the place. Discover the natural treasures as Mother Nature intended them. Then at night, sit at the bar next to the guy whose forefathers worked banana plantations and fished for a living.  Enjoy the blended dialect with a Jamaican twist.

Best of the Caribbean? Whose opinion matters most to you?