Laguna Azul Eco Lodge
What We Love
- The romance and isolation of staying on a completely uninhabited island in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago
- Best for couples or groups on nature-focused tours
- Watching the sunrise over the lakelike Caribbean from your private balcony
- Snorkeling directly off the wraparound veranda
- Seeing dolphins, sloths, hummingbirds and turtles on the nature-focused daytrips
- A friendly, attentive staff who go out of their way to impress
What To Know
- Children 11 and under are not permitted
- Gratuities are not included in the rate, so be sure to take plenty of cash
- Seriously remote setting made for relaxation and switching off — not right for active types and nightowls
- Getting there involves a one-hour flight from Panama City and a 30-minute transfer by small speedboat
- No WiFi, air conditioning or TVs in guestrooms (there’s a TV room downstairs)
- The harsh lighting of the eco-friendly bulbs is a shame given the romantic setting
- Free WiFi
Located in Isla Popa, Laguna Azul Eco Lodge is by the ocean and within the region of Bastimentos National Marine Park and Red Frog Beach.
Make yourself at home in one of the 8 guestrooms featuring refrigerators. Your room comes with a pillowtop bed. Rooms have private balconies. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available to keep you connected. Bathrooms feature showers with rainfall showerheads.
Pamper yourself with onsite massages or enjoy recreation amenities such as a fitness center. This lodge also features complimentary wireless Internet access, concierge services, and barbecue grills. Guests can catch a ride to nearby destinations on the area shuttle (surcharge).
All-inclusive rates are available at this lodge. Meals and beverages at onsite dining establishments are included in all-inclusive rates. Charges may be applied for dining at some restaurants, special dinners and dishes, some beverages, and other amenities.
Enjoy a meal at a restaurant, or stay in and take advantage of the lodge’s room service (during limited hours). Mingle with other guests at a complimentary reception, held daily. Quench your thirst with your favorite drink at a bar/lounge.
Featured amenities include a 24-hour front desk, multilingual staff, and a safe deposit box at the front desk. Planning an event in Isla Popa? This lodge has facilities measuring 377 square feet (35 square meters), including a meeting room.
How to Get There
I had to put a bit of time between my review and visit. We visited this past Feb.
Overall, even with all my cons...I still give it 4 ratings or "very good".
First off the pros. If you want peace and quiet, this is a wonderful property. It really is a simple yet beautiful property and location. We never have enjoyed snorkeling as much as this trip. Every day they offer included tours. Our favorite by far was the kayak tour through the nearby "river". You'll be gone about 2 hours and you leave right from the hotel via kayak. Just beautiful!
The rooms are very large and comfortable and the staff overall are friendly.
You'll be picked up at the airport and taken by private boat to the hotel. If you have the "slow boat", it's almost an hour each way. If you have the "fast boat", it's about 30-40 minutes.
Wifi was actually pretty good considering the remoteness.
The cons though...ugh. When you pay $500 USD per night, you expect just a tad more service.
1. We had no hot water the entire stay. There was a large group coming in from Costa Rica right after us and we heard they too would not have hot water. Every single person we've told that we paid $500 a night and had zero hot water, well needless to say they were horrified! Luckily after the initial shock, you did get used to the coldness because it was hot outside.
The reason: Juan Carlos the Manager said something about a value but after spending 3 nights with him I think the real reason is he's trying to save money. The property is being sold and he's only been the manager since Dec. and I think he's concerned about his future. Just my thought but I bet it's not far from the truth. Reading other more recent reviews, they too had hot water issues.
2. The hotel sent me out a questionnaire the week prior to our arrival asking me what we did and didn't like to eat (with a list). I told him we liked everything EXCEPT octopus. Not sure why he sends this list out because we had octopus every single day. I still feel horrible those poor little octopus' gave up their lives for nothing.
3. Juan Carlos will "push" tours on you. He almost makes you feel bad about wanting to stay in and read, nap, snorkel, etc. My husband was getting a bit irritated at him so had to be forceful before he backed off. Our biggest problem with the tours was everything was so far away! It required about 1 hour each way via boat so you're gone all day. My advise: don't be afraid to speak up if you need time to relax. Also tell him your time preferences, if you want to only be gone 2 hours, speak up.
4. Liquor is not top shelf by any means. There also isn't much variety although the white wine was pretty good. Appetizers are Chex Mix...every day.
5. You will have extra costs during your stay. Luckily, we did bring a little extra cash with us. Staff tips are not included (and you're basically told you need to leave something for each person). Additionally, some of the tours require entrance fees into the parks. Not a lot of money, $5 or $10 per person per day but it does add up so bring cash! Not to drive the $500 per night into the ground but I just didn't expect this and no one told us ahead of time.
6. The food is good but fairly basic. I do have to give props though to Andre. He's a jack of all trades. He's the chef, the guide, the personality of the place.
7. Bring bug spray and make sure you wear it! You probably won't see 1 thing flying around but beware, they are there. I was really good about using my spray the first two nights. After not seeing anything I thought "I think I'm good without". Wrong! I got 200 bites in one night and never felt or saw anything on me.
8. Beware of the floating pad outside the hotel with the lawn chairs. There is something living there that claims it and doesn't like intruders. You'll be terrorized until you leave. I'm not sure if they were flies or bees but they are big, noisy and aggressive. Management really should go out there and fix the problem. I know...nature. But why have a swim pad if you can't use it.
Even though this is a fairly negative review, we did love our stay. I think the biggest problem is management unfortunately (specifically Juan Carlos). He tends to tell half truths about everything. Our in room safe also didn't work. We asked him about it and he said he'd send the maid up right away with a new one. After talking with the other couple onsite they too didn't have a working safe and were the told the exact same thing. Needless to say we never did get a working safe. He will also take the slow boat to save gas whenever possible. It's not currently a 5 star resort but could be.
Fabulous spot in middle of mangroves
Stylish set up with a deck/dining area over the water and a spacious lounge area and bar.
Staff very charming,and attentive.
Great food,including lobster dinners.but everything to a standard.
Bedrooms very comfortable,everything works,
Snorkelling with good visibility(hotel lent us equipment.)
Great place to go out in a kayak.as wel.
lPretty much totally silent at night.
As I'm writing this on a phone I'll stick to bullet points.
Had a really good time in a relaxed atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. Really happy with my choice and suspect this is the best value in this class range in Bocas. I would recommend Laguna Azuel.
The Good Points (in no particular order):
* Location was even more beautiful then pictures show on website: especially the jungle kayak tour and snorkeling right off the area. Quite stunning
* Wonderfully quiet (when you turn the music off - don't be shy to ask) and feels secluded
* Rooms and deck look better then they do in the photos too
* Really good food, especially the lobster and octapus. Oh and the lobster sushi packed lunch was just excellent. (So best to avoid if you don't like seafood!)
* Friendly and helpful staff: special shout-out to Andre, the cook and guide, who was lovely and really carried the holiday.
* There was internet, even if slow, which is amazing in such an isolated place
* Good day trips to break up the day and get access to breaches etc - with perhaps some repetition
* Nice little touches like David the other guide catching fish with his spear and accompanying the kayaks in his dugout canoe. Also perfumed towels on arrival and incense in the rooms
* Good and plentiful cocktails, and the wine was drinkable too which is rare in Panama
* Felt well looked after for traveling too and from Laguna
Areas for improvement: (also in no order):
* were told there were few mosquote but certainly something was biting us plenty
* Not fully taken care of on the day trips e.g. not adviced about appropriate footwear, insect repellent or reminded about needing money (though we were told once)
* at one point we were made to feel bad about wanting to stay in and just drink wine while playing pool. Had to stick to our guns in order to do what we wanted to do. That said the manager thereafter made us many cocktails, perhaps in order to apologise
* though polite about it the manager was keen to try and get connects from us in the UK, e.g. in the property and hospitality industry
* though food was very good we did hace octapus three days in a row, and a couple of salads were lacklustre
* the water was only slightly hot, and we were not explained the trick of how to get it at all (just turn tap slightly, ignoring what the faucet says)
* Kept to Panama time: 20mins late leaving on the last day
* Didn't get the bottle of champagne on arrival as was said in email (we didn't ask, but we shouldn't have to)
* Minor attention to detail things: e.g. one lightbulb the wrong colour and some of the snorkeling fins broken
* Only two staff members spoke English, and only one could be said to be fully bilingual
* Had to remind manger of the price of the deal on the website to avoid paying more
I do want to conclude on a good note though - despite some minor things (hence the 4 stars) we did have a wonderful time here and would highly recommend it. To have such comfort and service in such beautiful and isolated surroundings is something well worth paying for. Go for it!