Isla Palenque Resort
Isla Palenque, Boca Chica, Panama
| +506 4040 0420
Isla Palenque Resort: Paradise UnwoundLocated on a 400-acre private island at the edge of a protected marine park, Isla Palenque Resort in the remote Gulf of Chiriqui is undiscovered Panama at its best; a place still so wild the howler monkeys outnumber guests and you can live as off the grid as you’d like. Do a deep dive into digital detox. It is the kind of place where most cell phone signals don’t penetrate, there is no cable TV or televisions or landline telephones (although if you have to be plugged in there is WiFi) and you can hike for miles through thick jungle without seeing a soul. The eco-luxe resort is latest property by the Cayuga Collection just opened in July and has a serious sustainability focus unlike any other property in Panama.
The Gulf of Chiriquí is about a 7 hour drive north from Panama City or a quick 30-minute flight on Copa Airlines to the country’s second largest city, David, followed by a one hour drive and then about a 20 minute boat transfer to the island. At Isla Palenque Resort there are just eight casitas on a totally deserted stretch of beach, which can sleep up to four people, and one villa that can accommodate a larger family, creating a very Robinson Crusoe style private island experience. Nestled in groves of palms and jungle flora, each casita is named for a different author of an island focused book — I was in the Garland, named for Alex Garland, who wrote the backpacking cult classic The Beach, and there is actually a copy of the book in my room. It’s one of a number of unique decorating touches here. Another is how you can adjust the sliding glass and screen doors to make your room as insulated or al fresco as you feel comfortable sleeping with — I loved sleeping with just the screens closed listening to the sounds of the jungle and ocean as I drifted off.
Days are easily filled with activities from guided hikes to SUP boarding to excursions by boat around the unspoiled Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park. In between playing you’ll want to eat and the food here was delicious and varied — I didn’t get bored of their offerings over a four night stay. The focus is on local, fresh and sustainable — you won’t find any plastic straws or bottles here. The staff is also friendly, professional and speak near fluent English. They’re also very knowledgable about the island and region and its native flora, fauna and history. Rates at Isla Palenque include three meals, non-alcoholic meals and activities. To combine a trip here with a more extended tour of Panama or nearby Columbia or Costa Rica among other destinations, local operator Panama Vacations is great at putting together custom travel itineraries that take the hassle out of planning and include transfers between destinations, which is the trickiest part of traveling to remote lodges like Isla Palenque.