22/06/2024

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Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge Hotel in Bocas del Toro, Panama

9 min read
Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge Hotel in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Imagine walking up in your luxurious cabana to the noise of birds chirping and the animals of the rainforest on the hunt for food. On your way to breakfast a sloth eating some leaves hangs from the tree above the path while hummingbirds buzz past your head.

No it’s not a dream, you have arrived at the all inclusive Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

The hub of Tranquilo Bay hotel, and where all meals are served, is a two story main lodge nestled in the rainforest with the dining area and bar, along with a large covered balcony where you can watch the birds and monkeys feed in front of you while sipping a drink.

The best part is that each day at Tranquilo Bay can be spent however you desire with the naturalist guides there to help you create the perfect vacation a reality. Whether you are looking to chill on this paradise island with a drink in your hand or spend the day seeking out wildlife, Tranquilo Bay is the luxury resort in Bocas del Toro is the best spot for your vacation in Panama.

Tranquilo Bay Ecolodge Hotel Review

Tranquilo Bay is located on an isolated section of the southeastern end of Isla Bastimentos. Bordering Tranquilo Bay is Bastimentos National Marine Park which includes a majority of Bastimentos Island and the uninhabited Zapatilla Cayes. Get ready to unplug from your daily life and recharge in this natural oasis.

The ecolodge is a short boat ride from Bocas Town on Isla Colon, where the Bocas del Toro airport is located. There are multiple daily flights from Panama City to Bocas del Toro from the Albrook Gelabert Airport, although the luggage weight limit in the small planes is low, so pack accordingly.

Once you land in Bocas one of the Tranquilo Bay guides will greet you at the airport and transfer to one of their private pier where a speedboat awaits ready to transfer you to your jungle vacation.

Arriving at Tranquilo Bay we were met by our amazing Naturalist Guide, Brenda, who would be with us for the duration of our stay. She explained all the experience options we could enjoy on our vacation and left us to settle in after constructing a base itinerary for our stay based on our interests, with the note that we could update the plan as we go, since the unofficial rule of Tranquilo Bay hotel is to be tranquilo.

All-inclusive Luxury Jungle Lodge

What we liked most about staying at an all inclusive hotel in Bocas del Toro is there is no need to worry about additional expenses once you have made your booking. The nightly price includes round trip boat transfer to Bocas Town on Isla Colon, a private luxury cabana, breakfast, lunch and 3-course dinner including non-alcoholic/non-blended beverages, and a naturalist guide for activities on the hotel grounds.

With that said there are some additional costs to consider during your vacation in Bocas. There are several offsite tours available that range from $75-100 per adult. Fruit smoothies, beer, wine, and cocktails cost $3-7. And of course, consider tipping the outstanding staff and guides who help make your stay at Tranquilo Bay unforgettable.

Accommodations at Tranquilo Bay

We stayed in cabana #6 which is only a short walk from the main lodge while still providing an isolated experience and full tranquility in the hammock on the covered porch. To get the basics out of the way, yes there is a comfortable king sized bed, steaming hot water, and powerful air conditioning in the cabin.

Due to the isolated jungle location of the lodge all power is created on site and water is collected and filtered for use, so be aware of your usage, especially to turn of the A/C and lights when heading out of your room for the day.

There is a small seating area by the window inside the room along with two Adirondack chairs and a hammock on the deck, which is simply the perfect place to relax in solitude enjoying the sounds of the jungle.

While there is fast WiFi in the main lodge building, staying true to its name, you wont find WiFi or a TV in your cabin at Tranquilo Bay ecolodge. This vacation in Bocas is truly an opportunity to disconnect from the every day and reconnect with the lush nature you will find yourself surrounded with.

Dining at Tranquilo Bay

All meals at Tranquilo Bay ecolodge are included with the nightly rate including soda, water, and fruit juice. Rest assured you won’t find yourself hungry with the fresh and home cooked meals each day. While there is a rotating set menu each day for lunch and dinner they are good at accommodating to food allergies or preferences, just make sure to let them know before you stay.

For breakfast you can choose between eggs any style, fresh fruit, toast, yogurt, oatmeal and a rotating special offing (one day it was pumpkin bread and another it was potato pancakes) and a type of meat. We like a light breakfast so stuck with eggs and the daily special.

Lunch is either served at the lodge or a box lunch is provided if your tour will keep you away from the hotel for the entire day. You do not get to chose the dish for either lunch or dinner, but it will meet any dietary requirements you let them now about in advance and no matter what the chef will make sure you never go hungry. Our favorite lunches were beach and cheese empanadas and veggie quesadillas.

If you got hungry throughout the day you could also ask a staff member for a snack which was most often a choice of bagged chips or a pouch of trail mix.

Dinner is more of a communal affair for everyone staying at the lodge. Starting at 6:45pm is a cocktail hour with appetizers where you can sit at the bar hearing about everyone’s adventure of the day or head out to the porch to enjoy the last rays of sun for the day. Then it is on to a 3-course dinner consisting of a soup, main dish, and dessert, focused on fresh local ingredients and Panamanian flavors.

Each night was a surprise how diverse the food was from any other night during our stay. We simply could not have asked for a better gastronomical experience going to bed each night with a full and happy stomach.

Guided Wildlife & Adventure Tours

Tranquilo Bay is nestled in a nature preserve of over 200 acres. Walking around the grounds of the hotel itself we saw monkeys, two and three toed sloths, iguanas, and a variety of tropical birds. Included in the stay are a handful of guided activities around the grounds of Tranquilo Bay ecolodge along with guided tours available at an additional price.

Hiking trails and wildlife

The beauty of staying at Tranquilo Bay in Bocas del Toro is you don’t have to go far or try very hard to find yourself immersed in the beautiful wildlife and tranquil oasis that Panama is known for. Where else in the world can you spot a three toed sloth on the way to breakfast?

You can enjoy a leisurely view of the wildlife around the main lodge and your cabana, or head out on a guided walk or hike around the property.

Mangrove kayaking and snorkeling with jellyfish

Kayaking and snorkeling from the dock are included with the stay. There is also the option for a guided kayaking trip through the mangrove forests that surround Bastimentos to go snorkeling with jellyfish in a calm lagoon. The moon jellyfish in the area that you can snorkel do not sting, but with any wildlife you want to remain careful.

Then it is on to the second lagoon of the tour where there are upside-down jellyfish. These interesting jellyfish spend most of their time upside down on the bottom. At first glance they look like coral, but once you see one floating around it is impossible to miss.

On our way to the lagoon we also caught a glimpse of a spotted eagle ray before it darted out of view as we floated closer. Also paddling through the mangroves there are countless oysters growing along the mangrove roots. Just watch out for the low hanging branches as there are a few tight spots to maneuver the kayak through on the tour.

Panama birdwatching and canopy tower

From the elevated porch at the main building you can sit back, relax with a cold drink, and let the wildlife come to you. Each morning before breakfast we spent time photographing the many birds enjoying their breakfast as well. In the afternoon if you are lucky the capuchin monkeys will swing on by as well to say hello.

One of the days we climbed the Canopy Observation Tower straight to the top of the forest canopy for a panoramic birds-eye of the flora and fauna. From the top of the tower we saw a sloth relaxing atop a nearby tree, a pair of red-lored parrots, and a iguana sunning out on a branch. It was honestly one of the coolest experiences of our entire stay.

With over 230 species of birds spotted on-sight at Tranquilo Bay it is truly the birdwatching paradise in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

Snorkeling along the coral reefs

While it easy to remain mesmerized by the abundance of wildlife in the rainforest and mangroves surrounding Tranquilo Bay, make sure not to forget about the marine-rich coral reefs just a short ride away.

One of the afternoons we took a boat tour to visit nearby coral reefs to enjoy a snorkeling adventure. During our visit the water was crystal clear making it super easy to see the fish and other marine life just a few feet below us. Due to the shallow waters, the lodge has a no fins policy to protect the coral reefs from any accidental damage

For no additional cost you can also snorkel right off the pier where we saw many colorful fish darting around us or just cool off in the calm waters.

Hotel Rates and Vacation Packages

Tranquilo Bay Lodge offers both vacation packages and nightly rates, which allow you to customize each day however you would like. It is important to note that during the HIGH and GREEN season there is a 3 night minimum stay and during the HOLIDAY season there is a 4 night minimum stay. Trust us, you wont find yourself short of adventures, wildlife viewing, or just the chance to relax in the tranquility.

For 2024 the nightly rates per person are the following, based on double occupancy:

HIGH SEASON: $295
JANUARY 7 – APRIL 30

GREEN SEASON: $270
MAY 1 – DECEMBER 14

HOLIDAY SEASON: $325
DECEMBER 15 – JANUARY 6

As a reminder, this rate includes all meals and beverages (non-alcoholic & non-blended fruit juices and soda) at Tranquilo Bay, your cabana with A/C, a bilingual naturalist guide, all onsite tours, and boat transfer between Bocas Town or Bocas Airport and Tranquilo Bay.

Included transfers between Bocas Town and Tranquilo Bay are on Wednesdays and Saturdays following the morning flights, otherwise there is a $100 charge for boat transfer on any other day of the week.

Tranquilo Bay also offers several pre-built vacation packages that include several paid excursions already included in the price. There is:

  • 4-night Couple’s Getaway from $1,420 per person including 2 days of offsite excursions.
  • 7-night Family Adventure Vacation from $2,050 per adult, $1,025 per child including 3 days of offsite excursions.
  • 7-night Birding Western Panama from $2,410 per person including 4 days of offsite excursions.

Whether you are looking for relaxation, adventure, or wildlife Tranquilo Bay lets you disconnect from the world for a few days in this secluded rainforest haven. Before you know it, it will be time to check out and you will find yourself thinking “why can’t I wake up and see a sloth from my room every day?” That just means it is time to book your next vacation to Panama.

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