Red Frog Beach Island Resort & Spa
What We Love
- Daily breakfast on the beach is included in the Jetsetter rate
- More than 60 percent of this eco-friendly resort is a dedicated nature preserve; look out for wild animals like dolphins, monkeys and sloths
- Spacious villas have full kitchens, private pools and large patios
- Eight miles of jungle trails leading to five isolated beaches and the rainforest spa
What To Know
- The resort has a private plane to take guests to/from Panama City and Bocas del Toro; airport transfers (including a water taxi) take a scenic route through the nature preserve
- The island, Isla Bastimentos, is off the mainland, but the many tours and activities (ziplining, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking and more) make exploring Bocas del Toro simple
- No room service, but private in-villa chefs can whip up superb meals
- Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill is closed for dinner on Mondays
- A 10 percent service charge per night will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Free WiFi
Located on Bocas del Toro, a serene island commonly referred to as the Galápagos of the Caribbean, Red Frog Resort is comprised of 41 private villas that sit on a hillside overlooking the turquoise ocean and lush rainforest. Here, Caribbean-chic decor melds modern elegance with tradition. Expect a tropical yet sophisticated vibe thanks to airy open floor plans and fully equipped kitchens with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. Each villa also features a spacious patio with BBQ equipment and a private plunge pool. A 10-minute walk from the villas brings you to five pristine beaches where you can catch waves on the north shore or snorkel in the glass-smooth water on the south shore. The activity center arranges cave tours, canopy zipline rides, dolphin and bird tours, visits to indigenous communities and more. El Susurro Spa, just off the resort’s Marina Village, blends seamlessly with the natural landscape and offers a variety of amenities, like the massage casita, which hovers over a bubbling spring in the middle of the rainforest. Punta Lava Beach Bar & Grill specializes in fresh seafood dishes with a menu inspired by the catch of the day and local ingredients.
In the Area
Get personal with the wildlife on a hike, and keep your eyes peeled for marine life when you take a water taxi to go to any of the surrounding islands. Bocas Town is the center of the island chain and has more than 20 restaurants — we recommend open-air eateries like Capitán Caribe for mouthwatering burgers, smoothies and burritos (try the coconut rice, grilled pineapple and sweet plantain wrap) and El Ultimo Refugio for upscale Caribbean fare including seared sesame-crusted tuna and ceviche with local aji chombo peppers and fresh lime. Expect sides of live jazz and reggae music. Visit Bastimentos National Marine Park, the largest in Central America (it can accommodate megayachts up to 250 feet long!), then head to La Amistad National Park to check out one of the great World Heritage Sites.
How to Get There
Our stay at Red Frog was truly amazing. The were greeted warmly and shown our villa by Enrique, he answered all our questions and helped us plan our stay. The Villa is wonderful, it's large, upscale, clean, and relaxing. You will have everything you need, even down to clothes detergent. We tried both restaurants and enjoyed both very much. The service was really good. La Rosa has wonderful salads and fresh seafood tacos. You can sit and look out at the waves and enjoy a delicious lunch. We also tried The Point twice and it was really good, great variety of pizzas and salads. All of these great things aside, I did have a medical emergency on the resort. It was totally my fault for not wearing proper shoes and I fell and cut my knee pretty bad. Anyway, the staff at the resort helped me beyond measure. They safely and quickly transported me to the clinic in Bocas and then, when I returned, they did everything possible to make sure I was comfortable and safe and healthy. Juan made an appointment for me in the City for follow up care, Enrique, Santiago, Joel and Juan and others, all did everything in their power to help me. They gave me crutches to use and made sure I could get around and still enjoy my vacation. I must give a very special thank you to David (Deibi), the resort paramedic, he helped keep my lacerations clean and gave me bandages and cream ointment to make sure I didn't scar or get an infection. It is because of him that I recovered so well with no scarring on my face. The attention and kindness was invaluable to me. Please give them all a raise as they went above and beyond for me. I will never forget or be able to repay all those caring individuals at Red Frog Resort. Know you will be safe and happy on your trip here!
It is no doubt that Red Frog Resort is a beautiful property. But aside from that, we were really disappointed with our stay.
Every single interaction that we had with service staff was poor. Its almost as if there had been zero training in customer service as everyone from the bartenders to the front desk staff seemed entirely uninterested, unfriendly, and unhelpful.
We had just a two day stay but had numerous poor experiences. Our first stop was to the beach bar and even with an empty bar, the bartender took a long time to even acknowledge my presence. Once I ordered, he was busy doing other things and after a few minutes of waiting, he told me he would bring the drinks to where we were sitting. 15 minutes later and no drinks, I had to go back to the bar and found that he had forgotten. We did finally get our drinks which were poorly made in the blender.
We stayed in a luxury villa which was really nice. Spacious, clean, and spectacular views. But one of the downsides is that the villa was very far from the rest of the resort. We had to get transportation from the resort to get to our room. That is part of the charm I suppose, however, every time we called for transportation we had to wait upwards of 20 minutes for the person to come. This happened whether we were coming from our room or coming from the main lobby. Of course we could have paid more to have our own golf cart, but we were already paying a hefty fee and didn’t feel like that was necessary. But we wasted a lot of our two days waiting around for the resort transport as well as the inter-island boat transfer which was also very late. I get that there’s “island time” but for a self proclaimed luxury resort, it felt like really poor service and we found it very frustrating.
Lastly, for the entire second day and next morning of our trip (when we were departing), there was literally no running water in villa. Spending a day at the beach without being able to take a shower or flush the toilet was pretty unpleasant.
All in all, the place is really not worth the money that we paid. We are not the complaining type and our tolerance for difficulties is pretty high, but we not stay at the red frog again.
The first impressions of any resort really set the stage for opinions. I was not disappointed at all having to take a small skiff from Bocas del Toro to Bastimentos. Red Frog Beach Resort welcomes you with a easy dock unload and a short walk to the reception area. Built to blend right into the the Jungle and groves and does it perfectly. La Rosa Restaurant was wonderful for the 1st meal. Locally caught prawns and a tasty salad was just enough. Very tranquil and easy going. Expect waives and making new friends.
Forgive the uber-long review but I am going to try and be thorough so people can get the whole picture of this place. We booked a week here in a 3br villa via Elite Alliance. First off, please know that getting here means flying to Bocas Town (from either Panama City or Costa Rica) and then taking a water taxi to the resort. And, the resort is expansive so unless you want a potentially very long walk every time you leave your villa, you will be reliant on their shuttle (essentially a pickup with benches along the back and a canopy similar to a safari tourer) which we found to be less than reliable, or a golf cart rental at $65/day (a surprise cost to us and with our villa being up a steep driveway that the shuttle could jot get too, and us having some older travelers, meant we had to succumb to the rental).
We arrived on Sunday the 24th of March and leave on Sat the 30th. Our first villa (#57) was large and very spacious but looked as if it had not been lived in for a long time. Looked great upon arrival but then we noticed that the curtains were ripped and very thin so definitely not light-blocking, the toilets were stained, terrace railings rotted, pool only half-filled with water, sliding glass doors where constructed so as the frames felt they would fall apart and the glass just fall out, cream colored sofas that were quite dingy and dirty. When I mentioned these items to mgmt to ensure they knew about them, they chose to move us to a new villa. Villa 48 was much smaller than the other but was definitely cleaner and being slightly higher on the hill offered great views. Again, it looked great but by the next morning we noticed a few things out of sorts....The "fully stocked" kitchen only offered 3 forks, 1 juice glass, and 1 wine glass but tons of spoons and knives and the tiny pool was missing tons of tiles (they could be seen embedded in the pavers along the drive and in the grass, but not in the pool. But enough tiles were missing that using that pool seemed unwise and probably a bit unsafe due to sharp tile edges being exposed so much. But all-in-all the new villa was an upgrade. An annoyance was that at least in our villa, we found the tv to work only 10% or less of the time which normally is never an issue on vacation but when everything is shut down so early as it is here at Red Frog, having a little tv at night is often a plus. We had that luxury 1 night all week as every other night we found it without signal.
As for the resort, I would not call this luxurious nor would I call it a great family resort. There are only 2 restaurants on the expansive property and 1 or the other has been closed most days. Plus, the menus at each place are VERY limited which would be a problem if you ate everything they offered given they are the only 2 options around but if you have any modestly picky eaters in your group, they are a real problem as the menus are very minimal in size. And, if you have kids, the only real kids items are pizza (if The Point Restaurant is even open - it has been closed for the entire time we have been here minus the first night), chicken strips, grilled cheese and maybe a pasta with butter. My teenage kids have had the same lunch every day....they are not happy and nor am I. There are also no activities at the pool or beach and VERY few lounge chairs at either the main pool or beach and those that are on the beach are beat up and sagging. Simply not acceptable for a resort of this purported quality. Oh, and did I mention that everything seems to close early (by 9pm)?? Just not acceptable for a resort that is so isolated from other options for entertainment (& as previously noted when there are no radios or tvs in the villa, that is a long night with kids). There is a small market that serves coffee and some food like egg sandwiches, some deli (though the meat in the display certainly does not look fresh to me), pizza and has some drinks, chips, canned foods (3 kinds of spam, lots of sardines, chili, ramen noodles, some other soup, etc) but very little of anything fresh or healthy were you to try and cook in the villa. And, do not believe the website that says they open at 8am. 9am...or so seems to be more accurate.
There are some grocery stores in Bocas Town, as well as some restaurants, but remember that getting to Bocas Town means taking a water taxi at $7/pp in daytime and $10/pp at night so add that cost to whatever you are buying or eating and the mediocre becomes VERY expensive down here...
There is no lounge or bar for just hanging out and listening to music at night and nobidy comes to your pool chair to see if you want a drink or anything. We went to a neighboring resort, "Palmar" for dinner one evening and they had live music and some of the best food we have had since coming down here. The only other restaurant we have liked is called The Ultimate Refuge and was very good. Red Frog really needs to amp up the food/entertainment offerings. As we left Palmar we noticed that half of the people at that place were wearing red frog beach resort bracelets and there were lots of red frog golf carts parked about.... Red Frog Beach resort goes to sleep at sundown and it appears the guests are noticing how tiny the menus are and voting with their feet.
If the mgmt/ownership wishes for Red frog to truly be a luxury resort, they need to invest in more pool loungers, more restaurants/dining options, more activities, a bar/lounge, better villa upkeep and stocking (on our last day they forgot fresh towels and it took 2 calls and over 5 hours to get them. First call around 3.30pm, towels arrived after 9pm -- long after we needed them and gave up), a real market, daytime activites (beach volleyball, music at pool, some kids events), much larger and varied menus, etc.
The views are great. Truly beautiful scenery. We loved the ziplining. The spa is a bit of a joke as, while the massage was good, there is only 1 therapist and 1 treatment "room" so a group day at the spa is not possible. Instead you will go 1 at a time or agree to be treated in the same room and they will call for a 2nd therapist from another island.
We have seen some very cool animal life including sloths, monkeys, red frogs, scorpions (on our terrace), a giant spider the size of a man's fist (climbing the wall 4 inches from my son as he was sitting in bed!) and many other large insects.
I admit that perhaps our expectations were higher than they should have been but this place is a member of Elite Alliance so I figured there had been some vetting. I am glad we came but would not consider again. For the most part, the staff has been pretty good, though slow and I do think the mgmt could be more attentive and engaged. I will call out Estefania at the concierge/activities desk as being very helpful. I would say, if you have very young kids and just want to sit at a VERY mellow pool all week and do not mind eating the same thing all week, AND just want to go someplace most have not been, "maybe" consider. But, otherwise, there are WAY better places with much more hospitality that are way easier to get too than this place. And, remember, once you get here, every time you want to go ANYWHERE other than Red Frog Beach Resort or the Palmar resort down the beach, you will need to hire a water taxi at $7-$10/pp even if that place is on the same island - Isla Bastimentos - as ther are no internal roads. Finally, it is the last week of March, still considered high season and a popular spring break time and I would be shocked if the resort was even 35% filled. But, if it were filled, I cannot imagine where everyone would eat or where they would sit if they came to the main pool or beach. There are literally only 10 pool lounge chairs and maybe a dozen on the beach.
All in all, a very pretty/picturesque place but not great for families with kids older than tweens or for anyone seeking anything other than a very quite, and somewhat solitary, vacation (which I realize for some means absolute paradise) and I remain surprised that it is rated as luxurious or high as it is. I wonder what that means for the other options in the area?? With some imagination, I can see this place being what it aspires to be in a decade or more with some serious monetary and hospitality investment. But as it stands now, it is probably not living up to its billing in this reporters opinion.
I am torn between 2 and 3 stars for this review. I hate to rate this place as "poor" but in good conscious cannot also rate it "average" - at least not considering how it is billed and classified so I leaned south of 3 stars because for a property that bills itself as luxury, this is below average in my humble opinion for the reasons stated herein.
We have been here for six nights and will leave tomorrow, on this last day Monday 19th March we were looking forward to eating in the restaurant on the beach for lunch and dinner (private club), however when going for lunch we were informed that it was closed for today for renovations. Went next door to the Italian restaurant which is the only other restaurant available at 1.30 pm and were told it would be open for lunch at 2pm ! We sat down and had a drink and watched as the restaurant filled up and orders were taken from everyone but us. I complained to the manager who told me to f***k off! Long story short, if you like to eat don't come here, 4 star prices 2 star restaurant (when it's open). Luckily they have some cans of spam in the inadequate grocery store. We will not be back.