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Island Plantation, Bocas Del Toro: A Beautiful Bali-Style Boutique Hotel

You could be forgiven for thinking you’re in Bali.

After all, Island Plantation on Bocas del Toro bills itself as a “Bali-style eco-resort.”

And surrounded by tropical greenery – complete with a yoga and meditation plantation on a jungle hilltop – it feels so very Bali, similar in many ways to some of the luscious Bali luxury hotels we’ve dropped our suitcases in.

But Bali this isn’t. This is Bocas del Toro, Panama.

And Island Plantation is one of three lovely small resorts in Bocas del Toro we stayed at when visiting Panama.

Island Plantation, Bocas del Toro

Bluff Beach Panama
No, not Bali, but Bocas del Toro

The owners hail from Norway.

And they know how to professionally run a small boutique resort.

The Island Plantation resort is a delightful, adults-only, chill-out place (which would cost twice as much on, say, Hawaii, if you could find such seclusion).

Bluff Beach, Bocas del Toro

Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
Bluff Beach is one of the most pristine beautiful beaches we’ve seen!

Is Island Plantation on the beach?

That’s probably the Number 1 thing you want to know.

Yes, for all intents and purposes.

It’s located on Isla Colon across a narrow sand road from Bluff Beach – one of the most gorgeous and pristine gold-sand beaches we’ve ever left our footprints on, and certainly one of the best beaches in Bocas del Toro!

Bluff Beach Bocas del Toro
Beautiful Bluff Beach is right in front of the Island Plantation Resort

Don’t worry about the “road.” It really is just a potholed sandy strip.

While an extension of the coastal road from Bocas town, very few if any vehicles drive along it this far out from town. You might see a few bicyclists though.

You hear cicadas chirping and waves crashing – but no trucks, no traffic noise; you’re surrounded by jungle-like rainforest, with the ocean right in front of you.

Visitors bicycle the sand coastal "road" on Isla Colon, Bocas del Toro
Visitors bicycle the sand coastal “road” on Isla Colon

So, across the “road” you go to the resort’s beach club on Bluff Beach.

Stake out a hammock strung between two palm trees.

Or settle into a beach lounger with wooden tree stumps for tables.

It’s a fine time hanging out by the beach here!

Drinks are whipped up at the cutest little beach bar set up under a big umbrella; ice buckets keep the wine and beer cold.

Ginger margaritas? Excellent, and only $5.

Order a cool cocktail from the beach bar

When you return to the main resort area, simply rinse the sand off your feet in the tin footwash bucket before stepping onto the concrete path leading into the “no-sand zone.”

The walk back to your room from the beach is literally a hop, skip and a jump (okay, maybe a few hops and skips).

Next question: Can you swim at Bluff Beach?

Much of the time, no, as the waves are simply too wild.

We lucked out.

The water was calm and ideal for swimming when we stayed at Island Plantation (January). Guess the travel gods wanted to swim then too at Bluff Beach!

Swing in a hammock at Island Plantation, Bocas, on Bluff Beach
Swing in a hammock at the resort’s beach club on Bluff Beach

But even if the water isn’t swimmable when you go, the beach is still spectacular.

You can walk for ages along that golden sand – and not bump into another soul.

Nor will you see any litter (something which unfortunately is becoming more of an eyesore around the world).

Are you a beach babe? Check out these 35+ most beautiful beaches in the world

Rooms at this Isla Colon hotel

Our “Starfish” room

Island Plantation has just 10 rooms and suites.

Most are set around the central pool.

Island Plantation, Bocas del Toro
Most rooms open onto a pool tucked in the garden

Beachy in feel, they have red-tile roofs (which catch rainwater for drinking), louvered shutters (with mosquito screens), high ceilings and dark wood floors.

Walls are painted in mint green and white; framed pictures add splashes of color.

A huge four-poster king bed under a cloud of mosquito netting is extremely comfortable.

Rooms at Island Plantation on Bocas del Toro have extremely comfy four-poster king-size beds.
Rooms at Island Plantation on Bocas del Toro have extremely comfy four-poster king-size beds

And waiting for you on the writing desk is a bottle of red wine and two wine glasses, with a note: “You may drink this on your porch or on the beach ($15 will be added to your bill).”

Best feature?

The outdoor bathroom!

Do you go ga-ga over great bathrooms? Then take a peek at these 18 best hotel bathrooms in the world!

Island Plantation Bocas bathroom
The outdoor shower is very Baliesque in feel

The shower has a pony wall so you can look out over all the lush green foliage as you shower.

And we loved the tall vase with a red lobster claw on the bathroom countertop between the double sinks.

Lather up with organic lime verbena bath products

Each room also has a small covered porch with wicker chairs and a small table, facing an attractive garden pool (which is long enough to swim lengths).

You can also book a beachfront suite in its own two-story, thatch-roof building.

The second story of the luxury beachfront site at Island Plantation,  Bocas del Toro, has its own living area
The second story of this luxury beachfront site has its own living area

The top floor living room has a balcony overlooking Bluff Beach.

If you want a little extra space and privacy, this is probably the room to book.

An eco-conscious Isla Colon hotel

Like most of the smaller resorts in Bocas del Toro, Island Plantation is self-sustainable.

Energy is supplied by solar panels.

Who needs bottled water when you can drink fresh rainwater from a pretty glass pitcher!

For drinking, rainwater is collected and filtered. You won’t find bottled water in your room; a green glass pitcher is refilled daily with water and left on your writing desk. 

A vegetable garden supplies produce for the restaurant, which emphasizes fish for dinner.

And there’s no air-conditioning – but a strong fan kept us coolish at night (we slept with just a sheet).

Being an eco-resort, there’s no TV or radio, of course.

But we enjoyed strong WiFi – and everyone on the beach or by the pool was often glued to their smart phones.

Go figure! In today’s age, it seems even an eco-resort must have WiFi.

For us, the natural beauty of our surroundings was a stronger draw than what awaited for us on our laptop and tablet…

Island Plantation Bocas has a wood-fired pizza oven
The resort has a wood-fired pizza oven – so of course we had pizza for lunch one day!

If you go to Island Plantation, Bocas


The resort is located on Isla Colon, the main island in the Bocas del Toro archipelago off the east coast of Panama.

Book an airport pick-up in advance with the resort; it’s a 20- to 30-minute bumpy drive from the airport to Island Plantation.

Fun freebie

Complimentary wine, Prosecco and beer are served at sunset at the beach bar on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Best room?

Starfish – it’s the only one with an extra huge deck offering peek-a-boo views of the ocean.

Must love animals

The owners’ three friendly Golden Labs wander about to get petted and like to follow you down to the beach. A little kitty loves having her tummy rubbed in the lounge.

Be aware

It’s hot and humid in Bocas del Toro.

We previously mentioned there’s no A/C; the fan in your room should keep you reasonably cool at night. The “coolest” room is the Luxury Beachfront Suite, which has a thatched roof.

Also bring mosquito spray (though we were less bothered by bugs here than elsewhere on Bocas del Toro).

You have a few nearby options for eating out, but the food is best (and the dinner setting more romantic) at Island Plantation.


Rates include a delicious three-course breakfast, often featuring pancakes

Rates include a healthy three-course breakfast.

Island Plantation, Bocas del Toro: Check rates and availability here

Where else to stay in Panama?

Casa Cayuco: Love to be active? Casa Cayuco is a small eco-resort on Isla Bastimentos, offering SUP, kayaking, hiking, snorkeling and a host of other adventures. (The food is delicious too!)

Punta Caracol: Check out these 7 great reasons to love the overwater bungalows at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge on Isla Colon.

Global Hotel: Why stay at the Global Hotel in Panama City? For complimentary bubbly and sophisticated comfort!

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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Island Plantation Bocas review

Photo credits: 5, 9 to 16 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1 to 3, 7, 8, 17, 18 Island Plantation Resort, Bocas

We were hosted as media guests at Island Plantation. But all words and views are our own, and we are always free to write what we want.

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!


Monday 23rd of October 2017

Island looks like an an awesome place to go on a trip and I wanna go there. It's my wish to go at least once in my life. I really like this blog. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Janice and George

Monday 23rd of October 2017

If you find your way to Panama, we hope you too will get to stay at the Island Plantation Resort :-). (And thanks for the comment about our blog!)

Irene Levine

Monday 21st of August 2017

Island Plantation looks like the perfect antidote to stress! Wish I was there!

Janice and George

Monday 21st of August 2017

It's indeed a lovely place to destress :-).