The Garden of Eden in Bocas del Toro is a hidden, pristine and very private getaway, that feels very remote in this archipelago of ten islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama – yet it is easily accessible. Only a few places around the world have been able to retain the particular atmosphere and authenticity of Bocas del Toro: seductive, primitive and unforgettable. It is a haven for snorkelers and divers, with crystal-clear impossibly turquoise waters and rainforest ecology; it’s also one of the most multi-cultural places in Panama. In Bocas, you have the option of staying on the main island, Isla Colon – the site of the only real town, Bocas Town, and its selection of bars, restaurants and shops. Although Bocas del Toro has become quite popular with indie travelers in recent years, relatively low-key development has left an authenticity an unpolished vibe that is highly appealing to those looking to escape beach destinations full of mega-resorts.
Or, you can take a water taxi out to one of the other islands which are quieter and more secluded – some more than others. A 20 minute water taxi ride from Bocas Town will bring you to the Garden of Eden on Isla Solarte – a small three-room property that offers a true getaway-from-it-all in paradise. Technically, Garden of Eden is not even an actual part of Isla Solarte, but its own tiny island connected to Solarte by mangroves.
Stepping out of the boat onto the Garden of Eden dock, you will likely be met by Kip the owner and Zeus, the exuberant dog. The grounds are small but lush and gorgeous, with little paths that wind up to the rooms, dining area, pool, game room, and also down to a boat dock on the back side that is good for swimming and kayaking.
The three rooms are simple but comfortable, and offer private decks with that essential island item: hammocks. At Garden of Eden you can have all the remote downtime you want; but it’s also relatively easy to make your way around the Bocas archipelago to do activities. Keep in mind that it’s a 20-minute water taxi ride to Bocas Town if you want some shopping or nightlife, and you need to arrange for a ride ahead of time. You can also take boats to neighboring islands for beaches and other restaurants, or if you’re up to a 30-45 minute kayak trip you can take the property kayaks across to Isla Bastimentos where there is a marina, restaurants and several beaches. Isla Bastimentos is also home to the Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, Panama’s oldest marine park. Tours of all sorts are available for snorkeling, diving, fishing, jungle exploration and cultural experiences with indigenous villages.
And of course, just hanging at the peaceful Garden of Eden or swimming in the pool are laudable pastimes. The property is Adults Only, and with just three bungalows it’s easy to rent the whole place with a few friends. The Garden of Eden offers quiet, upscale accommodations , free hi-speed internet access, and a full service bar and restaurant. Two cabanas are located adjacent to the pool, with queen size beds and a futon that can open to a full size bed; private bathroom with hot and cold rain water showers; and a veranda with a hammock and chairs to enjoy a fabulous panoramic view of the bay. The third room is a suite with both a king and a queen sized bed, private bathroom with hot and cold rain water shower, and a large deck with a hammock, lounge chairs and a ceiling fan.
Rates are $150-170 per night for two people, including continental breakfast.
Photos by Keith Hajovsky