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Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge 3.5

Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Gorgeous setting over crystal water teeming with sea life
  • Only nine rustic, private cabanas 
  • Free snorkel gear and kayaks
  • Breakfast and three-course dinner included in rate
  • Staff will help book excursions
  • Free Wi-Fi in the rooms and public spaces

Cons

  • Pricey for the level of rusticity
  • Location is remote (pro for some)
  • Rooms are simple and have limited electricity (pro for some)
  • No air-conditioning (just ceiling fans)
  • Bugs and lizards are prevalent
  • Food gets mixed reviews

Bottom Line

The Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge consists of nine two-story cabanas built on stilts above the crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea. It bills itself as eco-luxury, but with simple rooms and few amenities, rates are a little high. The suites are charmingly rustic rather than chic -- there is very limited electricity -- and each has a large deck with lounge chairs and a ladder for easy access into the water. Breakfast and a three-course dinner are included in the rate, but the food receives mixed reviews and soft drinks and alcohol aren't covered. A 30-minute boat ride from Almirante, the lodge is a truly remote, peaceful retreat for travelers wanting to relax on their deck with a book or take out the free kayaks and snorkel gear. 

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Scene

A peaceful, rustic setting that's ideal for couples

Local animals such as stingrays swim in the surrounding sea water

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge has a remote locale in the Caribbean Sea that takes a 30-minute boat ride to reach. With a total of only nine cabanas, the resort is able to remain peaceful and quiet, even at full capacity. Each of the nine wooden cabanas is painted a sea-foam green with yellow detailing around the doors, windows, and railings; each has a palm leaf roof that contributes to its authentic, natural feel. They're connected by a long bridge that juts out from land and each is built upon stilts over the shallow water; stingrays, fish, and even dolphins can be seen swimming about and most guests make use of the free kayaks and snorkeling gear to get an up-close look. The suites have large decks with lounge chairs (some with hammocks), so guests (mostly couples) often relax with a book or cocktail while looking out over the water; others choose to head out on day excursions. The hotel bills itself as eco-luxury, garnering electricity though solar panels, but the decor and furnishings are more rustic than luxe. The hotel did undergo a two-year environmental impact study to ensure the construction of the property would not disturb or affect the coral reefs.

Location

On Isla Colón, in Bocas del Toro Province, Panama 

Map of Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge

The location of Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge is one of its biggest draws -- provided guests want to be in a remote part of Panama. The hotel is in Isla Colón, the main island in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago. There are a couple ways to get to the resort, all requiring a bit of effort, but most travelers will make their way to the city of Almirante and take a 30-minute boat ride from there. Built on stilts over the clear water over the Caribbean Sea, the hotel has a truly magical setting with stingrays, fish, and dolphins all swimming nearby. While many guests choose to simply remain by the hotel, the staff can help arrange day excursions, with an added cost of boat transport. Popular sights such as Starfish Beach, Red Frog Beach, and Dolphin Bay are all a short boat ride away.

Rooms

Rustic but lovely private cabanas with large decks

All decks have ladders which lead directly into the water

There are nine cabanas at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge -- five Punta Caracol Suites, three Luna Suites, and one Master Suite. The Punta Caracol Suites are the smallest, though they're each two stories high with a thatched palm-leaf roof. Downstairs, there are wooden chairs and two blue couches with mosquito nets for guests that choose to use them as beds, though space is tight. Though furnishings are simple, the ample cherry wood, hanging lanterns, and colorful toucan paintings are pretty and provide an authentic Panama vibe. The bathroom has a walk-in shower and free toiletries, but there's some wear and tear. Upstairs, there's a four-poster bed with basic tan bedding and mosquito netting; it isn't close to as big as its advertised king size. A work desk, in-room safe, and storage are also available. Note that bugs and small lizards are known to make their way into the cabanas, so this lodging isn't ideal for the squeamish. The best feature of the suites are the front and rear decks that have lounge chairs and a ladder for easy access into the water. Luna Suites have larger wrap-around decks with a hammock and hanging basket chair. The Master Suite is the largest and includes a second-floor terrace as well. Umbrellas, raincoats, beach towels, and water bottles are also standard. 

Note that there is very limited 12-volt electricity provided by solar panels on the roofs -- just enough for the lights and ceiling fans (there are no air conditioners). Don't expect to use a hairdryer or charge your phone (though it is possible to charge phones in outlets in the reception area). Free Wi-Fi, however, is available. 

Features

Breakfast and dinner included; kayaks and snorkeling gear provided

Carribbean-inspired dining with mixed reviews at the open-air restaurant

Despite the high rates, there are not many amenities to speak of at the Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge. Most guests are there to enjoy the quiet, the snorkeling, and the occasional day excursion. For food, a breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, pancakes, cereal, and fruit is provided and a three-course dinner of Caribbean-inspired dishes is served in the open-air restaurant. The ingredients are local and fresh; expect fish straight from the sea and vegetables straight from the on-site organic garden. The food gets mixed reviews, though, and soft drinks and alcohol aren't included (but can be purchased throughout the day at the bar). Most guests eat lunch off-site during an afternoon tour, but lunch is available in the restaurant as well for an additional fee, and there's also a late afternoon tea. Room service is available during limited hours. The restaurant also has lounge chairs, books for borrow in a wooden canoe, and outlets to charge devices. Free kayaks and snorkeling gear are available and staff can help set up dining reservations or excursions to nearby sites.

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Address

Punta Caracol, Bocas del Toro Province, Panama

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