The Resort at Isla Palenque
What We Love
- Daily breakfast is included in the Jetsetter rate
- Palenque bursts with the wildlife from its dense jungles, volcanic bluffs, mangroves, lagoons and coastline
- Service and meals are five-star, and many ingredients come from an on-site organic garden
- Thoughtful touches: a personal iPad during the stay, a bound island book to take home
What To Know
- Amenities are first-rate, but the island is largely undeveloped, suiting the sophisticated but adventurous traveler
- The nearest airport (in David, Panama) is a 15-minute boat ride and a 45-minute drive away
- Expect occasional rain showers from May though November, mostly in the evening
- A 10 percent service charge per night will be collected at the Jetsetter checkout
- Free WiFi
- Room Service
The resort’s design is all about celebrating — and preserving — the natural wonders of Isla Palenque. Tropical hardwood, bamboo and stone are featured throughout, as are neutral tones that blend the structures into their surroundings and encourage monkeys and falcons to stop by. Guests enter the infinity lap pool from a stairway made of varnished spiny cedar cleared from what became the island’s hiking trails, and the stones piled to create a 12-foot waterfall were discovered onsite during construction. Sprinkled throughout the property are antique maps of the Chiriquí province; colorful artisanal masks crafted by the Embera tribe complete the homage.
Bed and Bath
The accommodations are defined outdoors by lustrous wooden siding and stylish skillion roofs, and indoors by signature spiny cedar headboards sliced and varnished by island carpenters. Although the six ocean, jungle and garden units are uniquely designed and furnished, all offer at least a window’s worth of pure blue Pacific Ocean. Some feature full ocean vistas and expansive private decks, while others have private outdoor showers made of bamboo. Every bathroom includes fluffy towels, organic products and powerful rainfall showerheads.
You’d expect that being on a remote island would mean limited dining options, but at Palenque’s restaurant, Eden, it’s somehow the opposite. The innovative and talented chef whips up flavorful garlic clams, tender Chiricano filets and mouthwatering yucca blinis stuffed with goat cheese and bathed in a house chimichurri — and that’s just one choice for dinner. The menu changes daily, but the only recurring ingredient is crisp plantains harvested from around the island. Each night offers three specialty cocktails and, in January 2014, the Las Rocas beach bar and grill opened on the opposite side of the island.
In the Area
The resort is equipped to have you scaling gargantuan strangler fig and Panama trees, spying on falcons and howler monkeys and zipping through the sea for as many days as you can handle. Those guests determined to get some time on the mainland can also opt for the Ngöbe-Buglé tour and waterfall hike, a remarkable excursion that includes horseback riding to a waterfall along with a deep exploration of the tribe’s culture. There are also countless trails to hike and beaches to walk, and the resort provides binoculars, maps and everything else you’ll need to set out like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe.
How to Get There
Gorgeous! Great staff! Wonderful food! Lots to do and fine fish! Individual casitas with privacy! Great snorkeling and fishing Easy to reach by flying to David and getting picked up. Best staff I’ve ever had the pleasure to stay with!
This is our second time visiting Isla Palenque...the first time in December 2016. We were concerned with a return trip...would it be as wonderful? Would the service still be amazing? Would we be disappointed – coming with high expectations? We know ownership had changed to Cayuga - so would they keep the same standards? Yes...Yes...Yes….it WAS wonderful.
It is hard to believe - but in many ways it was a little better...and a little different. The resort still had the awesome Benny overseeing the restaurant and bar (he is a gift to the resort and really takes care of you!)...still had the amazing Frances who gets you from the dock to the room...and then many adventurous outings in between (you are amazing Frances)...but there were other staff as well that respected the importance of service. It was a larger service family.
The casita we stayed in (8 in total on the island) was wonderful. Everything down to the finest detail was found within the casita - including the most wonderful bed and linens and amenities. Yes - the washroom is outside your casita - but that adds to how special these rooms are. I enjoyed a nice bath (in cool water) under banana trees...while listening to the howler monkey's in the distance.
One of the days - we splashed with a group of stingrays that came into shore - as they gracefully swam with the other guests (kids included) and wanted to see what was going on.
The food was incredible. Serving sizes are not overdone. But...if you want a second scoop of ice cream (made locally, with fruit) with your brownie or a second appetizer...there is never an issue.
You get out of their pool nestled in the trees by the beach...and the staff ensures you have a refreshing drink in hand or a towel.
EVERY whim or desire is taken care of here...
We look forward to our third trip...enjoying this amazing ECO resort that takes ECO to the highest level...caring about our planet and their staff! They even make their own straws out of papaya leaves…roll them and cut them to perfection. And you’ll never see a plastic water bottle… How great is that!
If you desire excellent food, peaceful surroundings, beautiful sunsets, and customer service delivered at a level unparalleled in heights then ISLA PALENQUE is the perfect place for you. We have traveled a great deal in our 50 years of marriage, but never enjoyed it so much as this island. The staff made us feel so special and they were very knowledgeable about this wonderful piece of paradise. Thank you for this once in a lifetime experience.
Roger and Cheryl haney
Gorgeous secluded beach eco-resort- small and intimate, casitas very private, with gorgeous indoor and outdoor spaces- access to pool and dining/bar via beach or jungle path- classy decor in keeping with concept, gr8 healthy light food, nice bar and happy hour-delightful friendly staff- a perfect getaway
This resort is very pricy but worth it. It is a beautiful private island where every attention to detail is made and the service was excellent. The food was fantastic--easily the best food we had in Panama and would be worth returning for the food alone. Really excellent three meals with lots of local produce and fish. We had a different ceviche and fish dish each lunch and dinner. The bar drinks--both alcoholic and non-alcoholic were superb. The tours are little haphhazard--only certain tours were offered when we were there--a slow week (in fact we were the only guests for two days) but you should definitely inquire if you are interested in specific tours. The guides tried hard. The casitas were comfortable and lovely. Our only complaint was the loud music that played at all times at the pool and the dining room. It drowned out the birds, the monkeys and the crashing waves. Otherwise paradise.