Say what? Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge? Where in the world is this?
Also spelled Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge, it’s one of three top Bocas del Toro resorts we stayed at in Panama.
Until we visited, we weren’t familiar with it either.
Now that we’ve been, however, we can share our Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge review.
Overwater bungalows in Panama
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.
Well, there are overwater bungalow resorts in Panama too – and Punta Caracol is one of them.
Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
This Panama eco-lodge 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.
But perched right over the water, Punta Caracol was special.
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 these Bocas del Toro overwater bungalows for a future trip!
7 reasons you’ll love Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge
Here’s why you’ll love bunking down in these Bocas del Toro bungalows on the water:
1) There’s amazing snorkeling in Bocas del Toro
The lodge is built over a thriving coral reef, where the snorkeling is nothing short of fabulous!
While the reef itself (ten feet or so below the water’s surface) isn’t all that exciting, the abundance and variety of Caribbean 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) They’re cute Panama overwater bungalows
Originally built in 2000, Punta Caracol’s nine two-story wooden cabins are very cute.
Perched on stilts, these huts on the water are gaily painted in pastel colors of yellow and mint green.
Sporting thatched roofs and large decks, they 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.
And how nice to drift off to sleep listening to cicadas, the occasional splish-splash of water beneath and the sounds of nature!
Punta Caracol Suites:
There are five Punta Caracol Suites.
The main story of each of these cabins has painted wood floors, wooden roll-up blinds over the windows, open wood shelves, two narrow daybeds and a small round table.
The private bathroom has a painted washstand with a mirror and faded red tile floors (also a red tile-and-concrete hot water shower stall).
Climb up a squeaky wood ladder-cum-staircase to the second floor (be careful you don’t bang your head!), and you’ll find a king-size four-poster 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.
There are also three Luna Suites.
They’re bigger than the Punta Caracol Suites, with additional side halls and larger front and back terraces.
The 1,000 sq. ft. Master Suite is perfect for families.
Octagonal in design, it has a king-size bed in the upper room, four twin beds in the lower room and over 640 sq. ft. of additional deck space.
3) Being unplugged – priceless!
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 Punta Caracol’s 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) There are 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 Caribbean Sea, where it’s blessed with good breezes.
5) It’s an 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).
Of course, there’s no air-conditioning, just ceiling fans.
One 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) The orange sunsets are spectacular
Talk about unforgettable sunsets!
We loved reading quietly at the end of the day and watching the sun set from the cushioned wood lounge chairs and hammock on our private balcony.
7) You can see dolphins!
Playful dolphins are regularly spotted swimming close by the lodge.
Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge, Bocas Del Toro: Practical details
Flying to Bocas del Toro:
We mentioned that the Hotel Punta Caracol is in Bocas del Toro, Panama. We flew to Bocas from Panama City on Air Panama.
The airport (really an airstrip and shack) is just outside the bohemian town of Bocas on Isla Colon.
Where to stay in Panama City? See our review of the Global Hotel Panama (we loved it)
Getting to Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge (boat transfer):
You’re picked up from the airport and taken to Punta Caracol’s dock in Bocas town. From there, it’s a 20-minute boat ride to the lodge.
It’s hot and humid in Bocas (remember, you’re near the equator). There’s no air-conditioning to cool you off, just fans and the breeze (and swimming in the water during the day).
Even with only a sheet (or no sheet), we found it warm at night for sleeping until about 2:00 am. (Mind you, hailing from Canada, we’re accustomed to a colder climate.)
Still, Punta Caracol Aqua Lodge reviews by other hotel guests on TripAdvisor and elsewhere also note that it’s hot at night.
Tip: Having a cold shower before bed helps.
Rates: Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, Panama
- A welcome cocktail
- Breakfast and three-course candlelight dinner daily
- Daily afternoon tea and cookies
- Bottled water in your room
- Free Wi-Fi in the main public areas
- Use of top quality snorkeling gear and kayaks
- Half-day excursion by boat to Starfish Beach
- Transfers to and from the Bocas del Toro airport
Punta Caracol: Check rates and availability
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Photo credits: 3, 5 to 12 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 2, 4, 13, 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.