Chiriquĩ Gulf, Panama

Isla Palenque

Price per night from$833.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD833.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Palm-shaded casitas

Setting

Pacific-island wilderness

On a private island off Panama’s Pacific coast, Isla Palenque is an eco-conscious escape centred on just nine peaceful, beach-bound, jungle-shaded suites. Playa Palenque’s powder-soft sands are pristine, backed by acres of rainforest to explore on a hike or observe from your hammock. Swim or snorkel its crystal waters, kayak through mangroves, go whale watching (late-August to October) or reel in catfish and snapper on an idyllic fishing trip – and feast on your catch that same day. Or remain on-resort for rum teachings (and tastings, of course), tropical dance classes or a Panamanian cookery course at the blissful, everything-local-by-default Las Rocas restaurant.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A bottle of wine and a bag of Boquete coffee worth US$90.

Facilities

Photos Isla Palenque facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Eight suites and one private villa.

Check–Out

11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.

Prices

Double rooms from £686.75 ($916), including tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include all meals, soft drinks and snacks.

Also

A buyout – where you and up to 29 friends have the island exclusively to yourselves – is an option.

At the hotel

Pool, restaurant, bar, hammock lounge, paddleboards and kayaks to borrow. In rooms: iPad (in casitas), free WiFi, yoga mat, block and meditation cushion, binoculars and field guides, cafetière, kettle, free tea and coffee, refillable water bottles, minibar, organic bath products.

Our favourite rooms

With its beachfront location, inviting infinity pool and sociable layout, the exclusive Villa Estate on Playa Primera is the golden ticket for groups or large families. For couples or smaller families, Playa Palenque’s casitas are equally pleasing – contemporarily furnished with indoor/outdoor ensuites and made-for-lounging gardens that offer utter peace and privacy.

Poolside

Set back from Playa Palenque, the palm-fringed freshwater pool has stepped entry and a handful of made-for-two cabanas on one side of the deck and a hammock-strewn thatch-roofed lounge, open to the sea breeze. There’s a lifeguard on duty and you can dip from 7am until 10pm. Wooden steps give access to the infinity pool at the Beachfront Villa Estate which – at living-room level – offers sea views over Playa Primera and cascades into a smaller pool on the lower deck, edged by an open-sided rancho lounge.

Spa

There’s no spa at Isla Palenque but you can enjoy a massage or facial using local, organic spa products in the privacy of your own garden.

Packing tips

Isla Palenque is an island idyll you’ll want to waft around barefoot – so pack floaty kurtas, kaftans and sarongs; this really is a swimwear-all-day kind of stay.

Also

Laundry service is available at extra cost. This sandy-pathed, remote property isn’t wheelchair-accessible.

Pet‐friendly

This private-island hotel is a pet-free zone. See more pet-friendly hotels in Chiriquĩ Gulf.

Children

Very welcome. Extra beds and cots can be added to casitas, or book the Beachfront Villa Estate if travelling with a larger group.

Best for

Any age. Younger children will love the island’s sandy beaches, safe for swimming. Older children will enjoy the many activities and excursions included with your stay.

Recommended rooms

Casitas can easily accommodate two younger children in the living area, or book two neighbouring casitas if travelling with older children. For larger groups, the Beachfront Villa Estate is the perfect choice.

Crèche

What Isla Palenque lacks in crèche and kids club, it makes up for with thoughtfully curated activities, tailored to suit the age group in question.

Activities

Hike up to a blowhole, paddle the mangroves, learn to fish or snorkel the island’s beautifully clear waters – the choice of adventures for intrepid little Smiths is impressive. Closer to home, they can borrow a paddle board, boogie board or kayak any time; sign up for a mocktails workshop or junior cookery class. There’s even a five-kilometre fitness circuit to challenge the sportiest of teens.

Swimming pool

There is stepped entry at both pools and a lifeguard on duty at the pool near the casitas.

Meals

On the menu are familiar dishes such as burgers and pasta and there is a dedicated children’s menu, too; highchairs are provided.

Babysitting

There’s no babysitting on the island, but the hotel will happily set up dinner for two at your casita or villa, or on the beach, only metres away from your accommodation, so you can still enjoy a ‘night out’.

Also

Isla Palenque offers a relaxed approach to family time with enough flexibility when it comes to activities and cuisine to make your stay enjoyable for all ages. If, however, you prefer your days clearly organised into time with children and time without, this may not be the hotel for you.

Sustainability efforts

So committed to an environmentally friendly operation is Isla Palenque, that you can take a behind-the-scenes tour during your stay to explore fully how its green operations are deployed and refined. The hotel is set in 400 acres of rainforest, bordering the Chiriquĩ Gulf National Marine Park, and takes the conservation of the island and sustainable working practices very seriously. The hotel was built using only sustainable hardwood and its design is sympathetic to the landscape that surrounds it. There’s an emphasis on energy- and water-saving in day-to-day operations, with solar panels installed, and the hotel uses locally sourced biodegradable products. Single-use plastics are banned and all bath products are organic and produced locally. Food is locally sourced and, yep, organic, with fruit, veg and herbs from the hotel’s kitchen garden. Signed up to the Dock to Dish program, the hotel uses fresh, sustainable seafood, caught in nearby Boca Chica, with fair terms for its suppliers – beef and poultry are free range and hormone free, too.The hotel works with local farmers to educate them on sustainable and profitable farming measures that avoid deforestation. Guests are invited to contribute to the reforestation program during their stay, planting primary rainforest seedlings. Staff volunteers enrol in a monthly beach and dock clean-up around Boca Chica and help to keep the islands of Bolaños and Gamez pristine, inviting along local residents, too.

Food and Drink

Photos Isla Palenque food and drink

Top Table

At Las Rocas, tables where the sunset view is unimpinged hold obvious appeal. For a truly romantic dinner for two, the hotel can set up a table and chairs under a thatched shelter on Playa Palenque and attend you there.

Dress Code

In keeping with the home-from-home feel, there’s no need to dress for dinner – although a loose-fitting shirt for Mr Smith and a dress and chunky jewellery for Mrs Smith won’t look out of place either.

Hotel restaurant

Looking onto Playa Palenque, Las Rocas is an open-sided rancho, where wooden tables and chairs sit beneath a vaulted thatched ceiling strung with woven pendant lampshades. The menu is packed with refined Panamanian dishes, alongside more familiar plates such as homemade pasta and burgers. Try tamal de olla (a Panamanian take on tamales cooked in a casserole), tacos piled high with fresh seafood, and ceviche prepared with the catch of the day. The menu changes to make the most of seasonal Panamanian produce and features fruit, veg and herbs from the island’s organic kitchen garden.

Hotel bar

Make sure you’re at the bar in time for sundowners; the eye-catching ceiling lights in Las Rocas bar change colour in sync with the setting sun. As you’d expect from a drinking den that offers mixology classes, cocktails are the focus here and you can order your drink by mood and let Benny and his staff do the rest.

Last orders

Breakfast is served 7.30–10am; lunch between 12 noon and 2pm; dinner, from 7pm until 9pm, which is also when the bar closes.

Room service

The menu mirrors what's available from Las Rocas, but during busy times may be scaled back, as resources allow.

Location

Photos Isla Palenque location
Address
Isla Palenque
Isla Palenque
Boca Chica
Panama

Isla Palenque lies on a private island in the Gulf of Chiriquĩ in Panama’s Pacific West.

Planes

Tocumen International Airport is the nearest hub in Panama City. From there it’s a 50-minute connecting flight to Enrique Malek Airport in David. The hotel can arrange onward transfers by road (60 minutes; extra cost) and boat (15 minutes).

Trains

No rail services operate in this region of Panama.

Automobiles

Wheels are best left behind for a stay on this private island where barefoot-over-sand is the preferred mode of transport and any driving can be done for you.

Other

Return boat transfers between Boca Chica and Isla Palenque on arrival and departure days are included in the cost of your stay.

Worth getting out of bed for

All suites come with yoga equipment, so discover a platform among the coconut palms or head early to Playa Primera for sun salutations at dawn. Take a guided hike with an expert in either the island’s history or wildlife. Trek through the jungle up to a bluff above the beach to witness the Punta Ballena blowhole at work on the rocks below. Harvest island fruit and veg fresh from the jungle and try fishing the old-fashioned way on a guided foraging trip – the haul from which chef will craft into supper. Go rock hiking to learn about the island’s tide pools, try a spot of rock fishing or head out on a boat to learn game fishing in these abundant waters. Island hopping comes in many guises – either on a boat tour, complete with snorkeling and a picnic, or from the water by paddleboard or kayak. Further afield, mainland tours offer a chance to explore coffee country and highland villages. More sedate pursuits include pastry workshops with chef and mixology classes. Then there are the seasonal delights of whale watching between late August and October when, from Playa Palenque, you can see humpbacks and their calves breaching.

Local restaurants

You’d need to charter a boat if you want to dine anywhere but at the hotel. Luckily, Isla Palenque’s talented team of chefs and the option to dine at your casita or on the beach mean you’re unlikely to tire of the hotel’s varied menus.

Reviews

Photos Isla Palenque reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this private island hotel in Panama and unpacked their rum and snorkels, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Isla Palenque in Chiriqu?… 

With unspoilt surroundings comes great responsibility and from the moment your boat docks at the jetty on Isla Palenque, it’s clear that this luxury island hotel takes its obligations seriously. Bordering a marine national park in the Gulf of Chiriqui, the island’s 400 acres are carpeted in nature-rich rainforest, edged by sweeping sandy beaches. Despite its sprawling wilderness feel, it’s home to just one villa and eight casitas – none of which is visible from the pool and restaurant at the heart of the resort. Each tucked-away, contemporary suite has a private path onto the sands and a garden secluded enough to house an open-air bath. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner for two on the sand, or a desert-island beach picnic by boat. Everything from hiking to kayaking to massages and mixology classes is on offer. And effective green measures behind the scenes ensure this remote idyll remains as beautiful as it is sustainable. 

Price per night from $833.00

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