I’m a hot or cold person. If I like something enough to include it in the blog, you can probably assume that I would say I loved it. (My big brother tells me I use too much hyperbole in my speech. I’m working on that. He’s an English major and usually knows best). But, when it comes to the hotel in this post, it’s not an exaggeration to say that I absolutely lurve this place.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fantasized about staying in an over the water bungalow hotel. Having your own individual hut that you could jump into the ocean from always seemed like the epitome of vacationing bliss. But the cost for most of these places is outside of the realm of possibility for my normal travel budget. I resigned myself to the thought that it would only happen on a honeymoon trip or some other huge occasion in the distant future.
Enter Eclypse de Mar. This eco hotel in Bocas del Toro, Panama has 6 bungalows that start at only $180 a night for 2 people. If you want to get to one of the nearby towns (Island Bastimentos is the closest), you use a large white flag to flag down a water taxi; you can get a ride over for less than $5 a trip. But really, why would you need to leave?
On your private deck, there are lounge chairs for catching the sun in the daytime, or a hammock you can string up for an optimal evening reading nook. Breakfast is delivered outside your bungalow door. Glass bottomed kayaks and a paddle board are available for hotel guests, and there are coral reefs to snorkel in nearby. Just walk down your private plank to the restaurant for dinner — their cook makes the best food that I tasted on these islands. The staff is friendly and has thought of every detail, like ceiling fans that are built inside of the canopy beds to provide a breeze while protecting from insects. There are even small openings in the bungalow floor with blue lights you can turn on to attract fish and yes, they provide fish food you can sprinkle directly into the ocean to increase the swarm. This place is definitely eco — the electricity is only turned on in the evenings, and the water pressure is minimal. For me, this just added to the romantic charm… and made me idealize the cool, bohemian owner (Malena) even more.
Getting there: Fly into Panama City (United has direct flights from Chicago & New York, Delta has direct flights from Atlanta, and Spirit Airlines flies there from Miami – I’ve seen them for under $300 RT). From Panama, get a puddle jumper to Bocas del Toro airport and then a water taxi out to Bastimentos/Eclypse de Mar hotel. Alternatively, you can fly to San Jose, Costa Rica and take a combination of a speed boat & bus – this involves walking across the border with your suitcases… something that I did not enjoy in 90 degree weather one bit. Unless you’re spending some time in Costa Rica, avoid that route!