Last month I visited the beautiful islands of Bocas del Toro off the Caribbean coast of Panama. I can’t wait to share the adventures I had from snorkeling and hiking to my first surfing lesson, but first I wanted to dedicate a post to the amazing place we stayed on Isla Solarte: Bambuda Lodge.
Bambuda Lodge is technically a hostel, but this is not your normal hostel. The place has more the vibe of an eco-resort than a cheap backpacking destination. Fortunately, they keep prices super affordable – a dorm bed starts at just $17 while private rooms start at $59. For as little as $74, you can even get a private domed cabin. It’s easy to see why Bambuda Lodge was named “Best Hostel in Panama” in 2016 by HostelWorld.
Here are 6 reasons Bambuda Lodge is so great.
1. It Has a Waterfront Location – and a 150 ft Waterslide from the Bar to the Ocean
When we pulled up to Bambuda in our water taxi from Bocas Town, I knew it was going to be pretty great. The property has a spacious deck where meals are served and a pool (complete with a volleyball net!) right on the waterfront. And, best of all, there’s a 150 ft waterslide that takes you directly from the bar to the ocean.
2. There’s a Coral Reef Right out Front
If you’re hanging out at the hostel and feel like going for a swim, grab one of their snorkels (free for guests) and explore the coral reef that’s located literally right out front. While Bocas del Toro didn’t have the greatest snorkeling compared to other Caribbean destinations, it’s hard to beat having a reef right outside your bedroom. (Photo credit: bambuda.net).
3. Miles of Hiking on Private Jungle Trails out Back
If land adventures are more your style, Isla Solarte has plenty to offer on that front too. There are more than 40 varieties of fruit trees onsite, and right behind the hostel you can head out on an adventure exploring trails through more than 14 acres of jungle.
4. You Can Kayak to an Overwater Bar for Pina Coladas
Get some exercise and enjoy happy hour with a quick kayak trip to the Blue Coconut, an overwater bar located a short paddle from Bambuda. Bambuda has a two-person kayak available to rent, and Blue Coconut offers free snorkels if you want to explore another nearby reef. You can also wave down a passing boat to take you there if they kayak is already taken.
5. Family Dinners are Delicious (and Make Meeting Other Travelers a Breeze)
One of the best things about Bambuda was the food. Every night, they serve a family dinner where you can meet fellow travelers. The menu changes nightly, with 3-4 options to choose from. It was surprisingly gourmet – and they always had vegetarian and gluten free options, too.
6. Breakfast is the Stuff Brunch Dreams are Made Of
The breakfast at Bambuda was also bomb. My favorite option was the eggs and bacon. The bacon was perfectly crispy, and it came with this amazing toast (seriously – I’ve never described toast as “amazing” before, but it was) as well as a cup of tropical fruit. Perfect for fueling up for a day full of adventures.
Bambuda Lodge – Know Before You Go
Bambuda Lodge is a special place, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning to visit:
- It’s more expensive than other hostel accommodations in Bocas del Toro. The food and drinks are a little pricier, and you’ll have to take a water taxi that costs $3 to $5 per person every time you want to leave the island. I personally think it’s totally worth the additional costs.
- There’s NOTHING else on the island besides the hostel, some houses, and hiking trails. Plan to eat all your meals in their restaurant, and make sure you bring everything you need. They provide a water fountain you can fill up bottles from. If you need to leave, it usually takes 15 minutes to get a water taxi.
- Bambuda Lodge is eco-friendly, running on solar power and rain water. Be mindful of that and conserve water and electricity – especially during dry months.
- It’s cash only. But you pay when you check out, and almost everything else you purchase can be put on a tab that you pay at the end. Just make sure you get cash before, or you’ll have to pay a hefty credit card fee.
- You can make reservations online here.
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An island holiday is incredible if they cater for more than just sunbathing. I love destinations where your day is packed with entertainment and when your energy is spent, you can enjoy great food and comfort. Thanks for sharing, the pics look beautiful.
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