Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge
Why we love it: an all-inclusive, barefoot-luxury eco-lodge off Panama’s southwestern coast
- Entirely powered by natural energy
- A max of 18 guests, 20 miles offshore
- Eco-adventures range from diving to naturalist tours and fishing for marlin or tuna
The review: This bijou lodge shelters in a 14-island archipelago that has been left three-quarters undeveloped on Panama’s wilder Pacific side. Over 750 species of fish flit through the turquoise waters — along with turtles, manta rays and humpback whales — and 128 types of plants flourish onshore.
Famous hedge funder Michael Klein owned this property and ran it as a no-frills exclusive fishing lodge, until his plane-crash death in 2007. American billionaire conservationist Louis Bacon then scooped it up and Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge reopened in early 2019, after a five-year overhaul. It now boasts nine casitas, 1,556 solar panels and a water treatment plant. The resort also dehydrates all its food waste and uses it as compost.
Set in tropical gardens, each villa has an expansive deck with a plunge pool and thatched-roof cabana. Inside, louvered slats and sliding panels take advantage of the cool ocean breezes, in addition to air-conditioning units with individual temperature control. Chose Mirador for romantic seclusion and Grande for groups — it can sleep up to eight guests in king or twin beds. Islas Secas is full of gracious touches at every turn, like complimentary wifi, international sockets, reusable water bottles and a mini bar with free soda, beer and healthy snacks. It also supplies flip-flops, bathrobes, beach towels and tote bags.
Fancy company? Gather at the Hemingway-style bar, decorated with historic maps, local artwork and handcrafted wall panels. A nook nearby houses a small library that includes board games, plus some archaeological curios. Next door lies the lodge’s heart: the open-air Terraza restaurant, which ranges from Greek yogurt and sun-ripened local papaya at breakfast to fried whole snapper later in the day. Islas Secas can also arrange room service, beach picnics and sunset barbecues.