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Isla Palenque
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Reviews (111)
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All reviewsocean suiteoutdoor showerprivate islandtree climbingbug sprayflora and faunaunique experienceminute boat rideisland hoppingthe entire islandattentive staffmackerelocean wavessashimipiece of heavenonce in a lifetimethe entire experience
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Reviewed 31 May 2014

This place is truly magical. Unbelievable natural beauty, luxurious accommodations designed with incredible eye for detail and ingeniously placed throughout the forest.... Isla Palenque is every nature lover's dream vacation. You can encounter incredible wildlife just relaxing by the pool (howler monkeys are EVERYWHERE) but the regularly scheduled tours allow you to see/experience even more. The boat trip to Isla Secas was definitely a highlight.

The food was excellent. The staff not only provides outstanding service but it also feels like you are saying goodbye to friends when you leave. WE MISS YOU BENNY! Even the other guests will likely be people you will have a good rapport with as you will all share a love of nature and of travel to off the beaten path locations. Dinners at Las Rocas always resulted in interesting conversations (and this is coming from a person who, to be perfectly honest, sometimes believes that "hell is other people").

The package deals are absolutely worth it, as food, drinks and tours are not cheap. I am sure the Jungle and Ocean view rooms are amazing but if the price tag makes you cringe the Garden room is perfectly nice (still has the outdoor shower!) and you probably won't spend much time in your room anyway.

Go now... go yesterday. I am sure the island will still be wonderful once development is complete, but now (with max capacity being 14 guests) the experience is unreal.

P.S. - don't forget bug spray. the mosquitoes are no joke.

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Jennifer T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 May 2014

I can't even begin to put into words the vacation we just had here. The setting is gorgeous, the staff is very friendly and the food is delicious! From the moment we arrived, the staff made us feel welcome. They went out of their way to accommodate my picky eating and always had a smile on their face. They went above and beyond helping to locate my husband's suitcase that was mistakenly claimed by someone else in Panama City and it made it to the island safely. We relaxed on the beach, by the pool, walked through the jungle, went fishing, enjoyed a 7 course tasting dinner and did the island hop tour. The hotel itself is lovely, the setting is amazing, but what makes this place such a gem is the staff! Really, everyone went out of their way to make us feel special and welcome. Thank you Isla Palenque for the best vacation of our lives! We can't wait to go back!!

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Mimi W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 May 2014

We we looking for a vacation that was something different and we certainly got that on our trip to Isla Palenque. It was an adventure in and of itself just getting here as we had to stay overnight in Panama City and take a short flight into David the next day. But once we stepped off the boat and were given our welcome drink we knew this was going to be a really special week. I had lots of communication with Celianis prior to the trip and both she and Bibiana were very helpful with whatever we needed. They are the "go-to" contacts for guests and they are always very responsive and helpful. The Ipad they give you is a great way to make requests and worked out well. All the service people on the island really seem to love their jobs and while always there to get you whatever you need - never obtrusive. We requested coffee at 6:30 every morning and without fail it was always delivered. And props to Benny for his phenomenal drinks. Not a day went by that he didn't make some sort of special concoction and it was always delicious! Great guy and a great bartender.

We went on a few excursions such as the kayak tour with Manuel as our guide. That was a lot of fun and a fantastic way to see the island from the water. We also got off on a sandbar to collect sand dollars and swim. It was a lot of fun but wear a hat and sunblock! The sun is very strong and it didn't take long for my legs to become sunburned. Manuel never rushed us and we could have spent as much time as we wanted out there. Needless to say we slept well that night!

We also went on a hike through the jungle. All I can say is don't forget your bug spray! This time of year is extremely buggy due to the rain and we needed spray anytime we weren't in the room or in the area close to it. Even if you don't think you need it, use it. Because they may not be biting and then the wind will die down and they come at you fast!

The excursion I would recommend as a MUST is the Island Hop to Islas Secas. Our guide for the day was Riccardo and he picked us up at Eden right at 9 Am and it was an hour boat ride to the area where we went snorkeling. The gentleman driving the boat was excellent and made sure the ride to and from the island was comfortable. And the seas weren't exactly cooperatring the day we went! We snorkeled for about an hour on a coral reef on one side of the island. One of the best snorkeling spots I've ever seen. TONS of fish and the water was not deep or rough. We didn't see any turtles but other people have spotted them. Then we went around to another part of the island where the driver pulled up close to the shore and we jumped off. They unloaded all the gear and we had time to take pictures, relax and swim before we had the most amazing lunch right on the beach! They cooked it for us over a fire and provided us with fresh fruit, Sangria and the lunch was a shish kebab with tenderloin and veggies, with a baked potato on the side. They had plenty of drinks for us and it was a really neat experience to have the entire beach to ourselves and get to have lunch there was well. Definitely one of the best days we were there.

Food at the resort was 5 star. You will never be hungry and you will be amazed at what the chef can do. He transforms what could be ordinary food into a gourmet meal. Desert one night was a fried PB&J sandwich. . . .sounds plain, right? Wrong. Best desert I ever had. Haha. I even tried the Octopus ceviche and that is not something I would normally eat. It was delicious and I not only finished it - I could have eaten more! Breakfasts are always served with fresh fruit and the portions are always adequate. I was never hungry and snacks are available at Los Rochas if you are. The thing I liked is that everything is fresh. If you order juice, it's made fresh right then and there. It really elevated the entire experience for us.

We stayed in an Ocean Suite and while it's a bit more than the other rooms - splurge if you can. Enormous room with the biggest bathroom I have ever seen! The 2nd floor was nice because you're higher up to feel like you're in the trees. Great view of the ocean and of the resort's pool. It was very private and the AC was a great perk.

Weather was warm and everyday was in the 80's/low 90's and would usually rain late in the day for a few hours. Nothing that affected our activities on any day.

I could go on and on but the only thing to do is to EXPERIENCE this location. It felt like a place that a celebrity would go to. It feels very exclusive. And the service reflects that as well.

Some tips:
- Get their travel package. It made everything a lot easier and smoother. Ask for Roberto if you want a fantastic driver to/from Albrook Airport. He was a great guy and we even had him take us to the Panama Canal on our way back because we had a few hours.
- Get an all-inclusive package that includes food and guided island excursions. The only thing you pay for is drinks and any optional excursions. It made it a lot easier to budget and ended up being cheaper as dinner is $45 pp.
- Shoes to wear in the water. Rocks are slippery so you need something suitable besides flip flops to wear while walking on rocks and even on trails.
- Long sleeved shirts to help with the bugs at night

  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Misha515
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 May 2014

From the first moment of arrival with Ricardo in the boat and Benny with a cocktail at the resort, you know you are someplace special. We stayed 8 nights in the oceanfront Estate room. Many nights there were only 2-3 couples there. This resort fosters a sense of neighborhood. You know everyone who works there and you know the other guests. You greet each other by name each morning and at dinner. That said most days, we had the resort and beaches ourself. We literally spent 2 days on Playa Palenque near Los Rocas with no one but us all day on the beach. It's like your own deserted island with 5 star service.

The service is stellar. It's very good yet unobtrusive. For example, there is no do not disturb sign. No one comes to your door, they just wait til you are at breakfast and then clean the room. Same at dinner for turn down. Once you check in (which is basically. Meeting to discuss tours and activities) they know your schedule. It's very flexible too. If you want to join a tour, just tell them in the am. Off island tours let them know a day ahead. We ended up with all tours being just us. Ricardo was our guide. A really nice guy. He took us on a scuba adventure to Isla Secas. Beautiful deserted beaches and great scuba/snorkeling. They know what you drink at breakfast after asking once (coffee or tea). We departed at 5:45 am our last day. They had coffee and tea waiting along with yogurt, granola and a fruit plate. Benny was there with a smile and our breakfast.

The rooms are beautiful, we had an indoor and outdoor shower. Huge balcony that we spent many afternoons watching the ocean, monkeys and the rain. It's the wet season so most afternoons we had some good rain and thunderstorms. The bed and bedding was very comfortable. We fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean.

The food! It was amazing. I'm a picky eater and was concerned as there is nowhere else to go. The food is top notch. Fresh ingredients with multiple choices daily. Every day there were veggie, fish and meat options. The desserts were impressive too. Everything is scratch made even the bread! They grow some of the ingredients there. Each meal is fairly robust so even though the food is well seasoned and could be served in any 5 star NY or LA restaurant, the portion size is good (read not 3 carrots and a slice of meat :). Most meals were at Eden. You can have lunch at Las Rocas on the beach but it's mostly appetizers. Fairly filling but if you are really hungry, opt for Eden. I'm going to miss the food almost as much as the views. Benny is an amazing bartender. They have daily specials but he'll mix something up for you. Oscar and Eduardo also helped us quite a bit and were very sweet guys. They really care about the guests. Ben, the owner was there part of our stay as well. He has some great stories about how the resort came to be. Bibiana in the front office was also very kind to us and helpful. We also had massage from Iris. Wow was she good! Broke up all the knots while listening to the ocean. Many other staff members assisted us, sorry I can't remember everyone's name.

This is a place for people who enjoy small, intimate hotels. You will be off the grid a bit. Wifi was very strong (included) but I had no cell service. Who wants to be connected when you are in paradise? I had need to be connected with family due to personal issues so strong wifi and FaceTime was a blessing.

It's a journey to get here. We did the flight from Allbrook to David then the hour drive and then 15 min boat ride. There are not a lot of flights to David so plan your trip around that. We ended up with 2.5 hours on our way in at Allbrook. The airport had basically a coffee shop and vending machine. We did not realize it's literally 5 mins from Mira Flores locks and the canal. If you have a long layover, go to the canal before the airport. You'll need about an hour there to see it but these domestic flights, you can check in and board 30 mins prior. There are two places to eat at Mira Flores. We had the misfortune of not eating before Allbrook, then eating chips until we had dinner at the resort. Let's say we were really hungry. The canal is really cool and worth a trip.


Another thing to know if you go during the wet season..
Lots of misquitos. We were swarmed on our walk to Las Rocas. They have deet for sale there but be sure to apply day and night. We didn't have a problem in our room or on our balcony as much. Just be prepared. The jungle hikes are great but there will be bugs. Lots of them. Deet up and you'll be ok. I believe it's not as bad during the dry season.

This is a truly special place. Just home today and already missing the sound of the ocean and Benny's cocktails!

Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
3  Thank bryandshan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 May 2014

This is such a beautiful and peaceful place! I don't know how it turns out when they have built all the villas they have in mind, but at the moment you can feel like Robinson Crusoe, except that you will get the comfort of a very good hotel and an excellent service with a very dedicated and welcoming staff.
We had a very nice and comfortable ocean suite over the sea (which we could hear more than we could see due to the trees). Excursions are amazing, either walking or by boats, you will get to strange beautiful places, sometimes you will feel this can't be real.
Certainly a place to go.

  • Stayed: January 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank KUSNACHT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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