Island Plantation is a hidden gem that sits on the outskirts of the otherwise tourist-saturated island of Bocas del Toro. Island Plantation isn’t just a hotel, but more of a sanctuary where everything is focused on the experience.
Hotel Review: Island Plantation – Bocas del Toro, Panama
Location: Island Plantation’s resort is off the grid – literally. We decided to split our time in Bocas by spending two nights in a basic guesthouse on the main drag, then splurging on the following two days at Island Plantation. Prior to our trip, my careful examination of Google Maps led me to understand that Island Plantation was a resort somewhere in Bocas, and based on past island experiences, I assumed that everything on the island was a stone’s throw away.
To get from Bocas Town to Island Plantation, our taxi took us on a beautiful drive along the coastline. About 20 minutes in, I thought to myself, “how much further could we be going? We’re already in the jungle!”. The road came to an end, and we found ourselves off-roading at about 20 km/hr over what felt like an assortment of boulders. After 10 minutes of our 4×4 adventure, we pulled up to Island Plantation: a majestic, isolated resort sitting ever so naturally amongst Panama’s rainforest. We were awestruck.
Price/Service: We paid $150/night in October 2015. It was certainly more expensive than the guesthouses in Bocas Town, but the value was unbeatable. As I mentioned before, it is an experience – from the moment we approached the gates, we were greeted by pleasant hotel staff who welcomed us as if into their own home. A calming, peaceful vibe descended upon us while we checked in at the reception desk, which was situated under a gazebo that was perched slightly above its surrounding greenery. The hotel staff addressed us by name for our entire stay, which was a special touch.
Amenities/Cleanliness: The property and amenities were impeccable. Each room was furnished with an earthy dark wood decor, which opened up onto the rainforest for a stunning backdrop. The outdoor stone bathroom was like a dream: it was equipped with a serene, bamboo-lined shower where the trees and other lush greenery were within arm’s reach and the sound of birds chirping was like a sweet serenade in the morning. There was no TV in the room, which is just what we needed after the hustle and bustle of Panama City. The resort sat on a strip of secluded beach and also had premier access to the rainforest – perfect for hiking. If we didn’t feel like crashing the massive waves on the beach, we also had the option of taking a dip in calmer waters in the pool.
Island Plantation is unique. It is not a typical all inclusive vacation in Mexico, but rather a retreat and a home away from home – one that happens to be in the middle of the Panamanian rainforest! So, it may not be decorated with the usual amenities like a swim-up bar and water aerobics, but it does provide something far superior: luxurious, eco-friendly “basics” that guarantee 7-star treatment while providing peace-of-mind and a chance be one with nature.
Another “wow” moment for me was the culinary experience. During my time there, I learned that Island Plantation doubled as a restaurant and bar. The owners are the cooks, who are truly food connoisseurs and provide a fantastic dining experience. With the eat-at-home feel, the meals are always fresh and unique, something you know you won’t get in town.
Target Clientele: In my opinion, Island Plantation’s clientele are couples and solo travels – those who are looking for a unique experience, where they can truly witness the beauty of Bocas del Toro. This is not a place for travellers looking for an all-inclusive resort with daily group activities and entertainment. This is a place for people looking for an authentic, memorable and intimate experience – those who wish to enjoy the natural beauty of Panama and really break away from the usual tourist experience.
Overall Impression: I was blown away by Island Plantation. I honestly can’t say enough about the resort, and hope that I have done it justice in my review. The most impressive part of my experience at Island Plantation was the way the owners and staff personally interacted with me and made me feel like I was in paradise. I felt their passion and vision, and witnessed their commitment to delivering every ounce of it to us as guests. When the owner of a hotel comes to wish you off and hugs you to say goodbye, you know you’re in a good place!
The owners and staff did so much more than just a regular hotel. They:
- Escorted guests on different hikes through the rainforest,
- Waited up for us to make sure we were okay after we insisted on going into town to watch the baseball game at night (regrettably),
- Stayed up and personally crafted a delicious nightcap for us,
- Took note of both our arrival and departure, and made sure they were present for both to welcome us and say goodbye,
- Took the time to chat and learn about us in order to deliver a memorable experience with a personal touch
……..and so much more!
Island Plantation is a must-do in Bocas del Toro!