Al Natural is truly a hidden gem in Bocas. The "bungalows" as they are reffered to by 'Martin" allow for that feeling of living outdoors in Nature, while at the same time affording the comforts of hot showers, king size bed, mosquito nets, hammocks, etc. The pillow top 180 degree views of the bay and distant cloud shrouded mountains are priceless, the changing colors of the sky, the sea and the abundant wild life all around kept me captivated for hours.
We were not met at the Bocas airport as notified, we found our way to Cas Michel and took the boat to Al Natural, an enchanting 45 min to 60 min ride through some stunning waterscapes punctuated by mangrove islands and framed by distant mountains on one side and seemingly untouched tropical jungle extending all the way to the waters edge on the other side.
We are met at the Al Natural pier by Martin and escorted to our "bungalow". All meals are a community affair as all guests are seated at one table and that encourages conversation and thereon the beginnings of a many a new freindship.
Vincent, is a gifted culinary artist, we were served some of the freshest seafod I have ever had, with some truly creative accompaniements, conjured with the local produce and flowers.
The sauces too, were infused with the local flavours blended with traditional bases. My personal favourite was the pan sauteed fresh wahoo served with hibiscus infused wasabi sauce. Also the spicy "Fish Balls" served at lunch have created a craving.
We spent 8 blissed out days at Al Natural, mornings were mostly spent on activities, afternoons were quiet moments, absorbing the views or restful siestas, most evenings would start at around 7.00pm, when the monkeys would come down for the daily feeding next to the bar, followed by a few cocktails, (would recommend the Naturalito), dinner and invariably the conversations would continue late into the nights, spontaneous dancing, singing ...almost a mini fiesta could happen. Meanwhile the moon rose, the bay turned silvery blue, and on one cloudy dark night, we witnessed bio-luminescence, entire swatches of the water would light up in flourescent greens and blues. I am told this is a natural event which can only be viewed on moonless nights.
Al Natural runs on Solar power and rain cachments, so there will be no electical outlets in your cabin/bungalow. If you do need to charge your camera/laptop batteries, take it over to the main lodge, and you can hook up to the inverter there.
As for the activities, the best snorkelling is at Zapatillas, even though the small reef 100 meters from the Al Natural pier is good too. Try kayaking there ory ou can even swim upto it right from the beach.
The beach in front of Al Natural has sea weeds, I did not enjoy the feeling of the weeds tickling my feet and body.
The trek through Salt Creek village and onto Long Beach takes about 3 hours. Long beach is almost 3 miles of beautiful sand with not a soul on it. Red Frog Beach is more swimmable and picturesque. Polo Beach has some coral right off the sand, its worth snorkelling. Coral Cay has the best color. Dolphin Bay tours was disappointment as we did not sight any dolphins, but we did run into a pod the day before.
Bocas town is good for a day and is essential if you do need to connect to the outside world, try the Big Kahuna Hostel for the internet and even the ambience.
We had decided on waking up in Paradise for my wife's milestone birthday and once we did find that paradise at Al Natural, leaving was difficult to say the least.
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- Also Known As:
- Al Natural Hotel Isla Bastimentos
- Al Natural Resort Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro