Say what? Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge? Where in the world is this?
You know the Maldives is famous for its overwater bungalows, some with glass panels in the floor where you can see tropical fish doing lazy-eights right below.
But Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge?
Until we stayed there, we weren’t familiar with it either. (BTW, you might see the lodge spelled sometimes as “Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge.”)
Overwater bungalows in Panama
Well, there are overwater bungalow resorts in Panama too.
Punta Caracol is built on stilts in the water off Isla Colon.
Isla Colon is the main tropical island in Bocas del Toro, an archipelago of islands along Panama’s Caribbean coast. See this link to Google maps showing the location of Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge in Bocas.
If you love being close to the water – and would like to experience staying in (relatively) affordable overwater bungalows – you might just want to bookmark Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge for a future trip.
7 reasons you’ll love Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge (also spelled as Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge) was one of three great Bocas del Toro resorts we stayed at.
Here’s why you’ll love bunking down at Punta Caracol:
1) Amazing snorkeling in Bocas del Toro
The snorkeling right from these Bocas del Toro overwater bungalows is nothing short of fabulous!
The lodge is built over a coral reef.
While the reef itself (ten feet or so below the water’s surface) isn’t all that exciting, the variety and abundance of marine life sure is.
Simply put on your mask and fins and step down the ladder hanging off your deck.
And you’ll see needle fish; delicate sea spiders; butterfly fish; yellow-and-black striped Sergeant Majors; giant pillowy-looking pumpkin-colored sea stars; and tiny neon-blue fish that poke their hands out of holes in the sand floor, then retreat when you swim over them.
We spied a barracuda, at least six feet in length, hanging motionless in the water underneath one bungalow.
And a conch, the size of a football, was fascinating to watch as it crawled slowly along.
To top things off, the aquamarine water is crystal clear and warm.
Recommended reading: If you love snorkeling, there’s great snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, too
2) Cute Panama overwater bungalows
Originally built in 2000, Punta Caracol’s nine two-storey wooden cabins are very cute.
Perched on stilts, these huts on the water are gaily painted in pastel colors of yellow and mint green.
They sport thatched roofs and use conch shells instead of door handles.
Did you ever spend summers as a child at a rustic cottage? That’s how these cabins feel inside.
The main floor of each cabin has painted wood floors, wooden roll-up blinds over the windows, open wood shelves, two narrow daybeds and a small round table.
The bathroom has a painted washstand with mirror and faded red tile floors (also a red tile and concrete shower stall).
Climb up a squeaky wood ladder-cum-staircase to the second floor (be careful you don’t bang your head!), and you find a king-size bed shrouded in mosquito netting.
A large opening in the side of the thatch roof lets in the breeze and light.
Heavy plastic drapes on either side can be untied to hang down and block out the light or prevent rain from entering.
3) Being unplugged
There is no TV, no radio, no telephone and no electricity to plug in your electronic toys (but there is a communal charging dock for cell phones and tablets in the restaurant).
And what a nice feeling it is to be unplugged from the frenetic outside world!
Wi-Fi is available in the restaurant if you need it.
4) Few mozzies
A Bocas del Toro vacation is all about escapism surrounded by nature. Expect mosquitoes.
But you’ll encounter far fewer mozzies and no-see-ums at Punta Caracol because it’s built over the sea and is blessed with good breezes.
5) Eco-friendly operation
Punta Caracol gets kudos for striving to be as environmentally responsible as possible.
Natural building materials (native woods, bamboo, wild cane and clays) were used in building the lodge.
Solar panels provide electricity and a bio-digestor debugs waste water.
Only 2% of the lodge’s 100 acres are used for its operation; the other 98% is a private natural reserve.
And bath products are eco-friendly, as is the soap used in their laundry facilities back in Bocas town (where towels and sheets are taken by boat for laundering, along with all the trash).
One more thing the lodge could perhaps do is to provide refillable water jugs and glasses in the cabins, instead of plastic bottles of mineral water. (But we’re not eco-experts, so there may be reasons that militate against this.)
6) Spectacular orange sunsets
We loved reading quietly at the end of the day and watching the sun set from the cushioned wood loungers and hammock on our deck.
7) Dolphin spotting
Playful dolphins are regularly spotted swimming close by the lodge.
Where to stay in Panama City? See our review of the Global Hotel Panama (we loved it)
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Photo credits: 3, 6 to 13 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 2, 4, 14 Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
We were hosted as media guests at Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge. But we never let media invitations influence our reviews – our thoughts and words are always our own.