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“Absolutely Delightful” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Al Natural Resort

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Al Natural Resort
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Absolutely Delightful”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 September 2008

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.

  • Liked — Living outdoors with the comforts of indoors
  • Disliked — Bug Bites
  • Stayed September 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ditdot67
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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313 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (41)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia PA
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 May 2008

This resort was so much more than we expected...beautifully maintained basic beach bungalows with hot water showers, mosquito nets and balconies facing the water. All meals were included and were served family style...we got to meet everyone at the resort as well as the owner. The food was phenomenal! People were fabulous. If you are looking for the lap of luxury this isn't the resort for you...if you're looking for a place to be more in touch with nature and experience true relaxation then Al Natural is your resort. Boat excursions to other beaches and snorkling are available daily; also kayaking and snorkling can be done right outside your bungalow. Water was crystal clear but there was a lot of sea grass...I wished I had brought water shoes! Also, make sure to bring a flashlight, plenty of sunblock, mosquito repellent and beach towels...not sure if you can get this stuff once you're there!

  • Liked — Secluded location, friendly staff and fabulous food!
  • Stayed April 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank rapture212
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
USA
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 April 2008

Al Natural is a wonderfully, remote, exotic and tropical hideaway. Our first impressions of the cabins were that they were beautifully decorated and with attention to detail - upon our arrival the bed was decorated with tropical flowers and our host was friendly. To echo the sentiments of the reviewer below, group dining is pot luck, we were incredibly lucky to have got on with the other guests really well for the first 5 nights but when guests arrived that we didn't get on with there were slightly awkward silences and even very slightly tense political debates... but hey, it's a holiday so just relax and if the atmosphere isn't nice then just ask for dinner to be served in your room with a view overlooking the ocean... v romantic...

On the slightly negative side, it is fairly pricey at $100 per person and, to be brutally honest, the value of what you get for that price isn't really justified. If you stay longer than 3 or 4 nights, even the most laid back and discerning couple who is willing to pay $200 a night for their cabin will probably start to get picky and see cracks. The costs of the excursions are also on the pricey side and the meals are good but nothing to write home about. Bottom line is that you probably won't think about these "cracks" if your stay is no more than 3 or 4 nights but any longer than that and you might start to get disappointed.

We heard very good things about La Loma Jungle Lodge on the other hand... but bear in mind that Al Natural is right on the beach and La Loma is not.... Have fun...

  • Liked — The views, the location, the remoteness.
  • Disliked — Not great value
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank OandJose
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
DC
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 April 2008

My husband and I went to Al Natural with our three teenagers (one girl, two boys), and we all loved it. We stayed 3 nights and the only reason I wasn't sad to leave was that all my clothes were wet and I was looking forward to finding a dryer-- it was end of March, we had a lot of rain-- but the rain didn't ruin a great time; it only rained part of each day, not all day. We hiked in the jungle in the rain and it brought out all the tiny red poison dart frogs! Quite a sight. We kayaked and snorkeled in the rain and in the sun. At night we had 2 super nights of bioluminescence in the water -- definitely one of the most wonder-ful things I've seen in my life.
I loved the fact that dining was communal -- it forced our kids (2 of whom are shy) to socialize, and that was a good thing. It's great fun meeting people from around the world and comparing stories and adventures.
The second floor of the main lodge has a game room; the third floor is an observation deck. It was so much fun to watch the great Golden Orbs spinning their webs there (see photo); also we saw capuchin monkeys in the trees from there.
The cabanas were super, loved them; food was good; owners and staff very friendly and helpful.
Jill

  • Liked — The flora and fauna and the scenery
  • Stayed March 2008, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jillmeichner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York
Level Contributor
193 reviews
92 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 196 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 March 2008

Stayed Al Natural for 2 nights the end of February. We stayed at standard bungalow and loved it. Wish we could stay longer. No TV,no phone, no internet. But once you step in this resort, you don't feel its necessity. Just be in natural. All you hear is birds singing and nice ocean waives. But you never get bored. You are totally disconnected from your daily routine at home. What made our stay here even better was their staff, Michele and Vincent, other local staff and guests. You eat three meals with them together. So if you don't get along with other guests, maybe your stay turns to be uncomfortable. We were lucky that all the guests were so wonderful and it was like one big family. As other members mention that food was wonderful, more healthy style.
Remember, there is no service that high end resort hotels offer.
Concept is totally different here as well as Bocas.
We loved here and love to come back.

  • Liked — nature
  • Stayed February 2008
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank TravelProNewYork
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston
Level Contributor
26 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 9 March 2008

Having split our time in Bocas del Toro between two places, I am so glad I stayed at Al Natural first.
It is in the lovliest spot, very beautiful and relaxing. There is none of the chaos of Bocas town, it is a great escape. At Al Natural you are close to Crawl Cay for the best snorkeling, and equally close to the Zapatillas, for more hiking and snorkeling, or just a day of swimming.
The meals here were fantastic as well. Having eaten at several places in Bocas I can now say that none of the meals I was served compared to what Al Natural served us. We were lucky to also have a guest chef visit during our stay, so we were treated to the genius of two fine chefs. Lovely and creative dishes, mainly based on fish. We were always excited to see what they would create for us.
At night you can stand at the dock and watch the bioluminescence glowing at you (shine it with your flashlight).
There were virtually no bugs during our stay, except for a couple of nights of no see-ums that bit my legs all over. But I wasn't wearing bug stuff, so my bad. The fireflies out there are so cool, they are enormous.
There are sweet little night monkies that come down to visit some evenings, and come very close.
There are nice trails to two good beaches on the outside of Bastimentos, so you can wander on your own, plus there is the Salt Creek Indian village a short distance up the lagoon. We didn't go on the tour, but we took the kayaks down the beach and up the lagoon to the village one morning. Very interesting, many neat birds and critters.
My boyfriend and another guest brought travel fishing rods and had a great time going out with local guys to fish by the reef. They did catch our dinner one night (Jack Creval?)
The accomodations are very gilligan's Island luxery cabinas: thatched roof huts open to nature but with hot water showers and comfy beds (ours had a much appreciated ceiling fan). Most nights there is a breeze and it was only really hot one afternoon.
We really loved this place. Michel and Vincent have made a lovely retreat from the world's ills.
The only advice I have is not to come here being too needy. If you want someone to serve you hand and foot, this is not your place. Aside from mealtimes, you are on your own unless you have arranged a tour. Although I can say when I found myself in need of a pina colada when the hosts were not around, Calypso and Mariella did help me out. Everything else is there for you to get for yourself (cooler with drinks).

  • Liked — The luxurious integration with nature
  • Disliked — The shower was not always hot and often had no pressure
  • Stayed February 2008, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank djunalu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Canada
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 February 2008

Of all the places I have stayed in Panama, this was by far the best. Great beauty, very natural, excellent staff and service, peace, and lots to do.

  • Liked — The service was amazing, beautiful natural location
  • Disliked — I can't think of anything I did not like
  • Stayed September 2007, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check-in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank OldguyTraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Al Natural Resort

Property: Al Natural Resort
Address: Old Point, Isla Bastimentos, Panama
Region: Panama > Bocas del Toro Province > Isla Bastimentos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Shuttle Bus service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 18 B&Bs / Inns in Isla Bastimentos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3 star — Al Natural Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 9
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Al Natural Hotel Isla Bastimentos
Al Natural Resort Panama/Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro

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