Several months ago, my husband, Eddie, and I had the opportunity to visit a private jungle island, Isla Palenque, in the Gulf of Chiriqui, Panama. Our visit was a possible business venture and other than the owner’s parents, we were the only guests on the entire island. Isla Palenque is a luxury eco-resort being designed with eco-tourism and cultural preservation in mind. It was quite the experience. The founder/owner, Ben, has a beautiful and sustainable plan in mind for Isla Palenque.
The Unspoiled Beauty of Isla Palenque
We were brought to the island of Isla Palenque by boat from Boca Chica and then driven by mini-van to the resort. The roads were still undeveloped and in bad condition. Upon arrival, we were shown around the property and taken to our room overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Our location was just east of Costa Rica.
Our enormous estate room featured beautiful pieces of handmade furniture, made by employees of the island property and with local materials. I loved the ornate bathroom countertop and bedside tables. Decorations were brightly colored, yet functional with lots of personal touches.
What to Expect at the Resort
The resort provided us with iPads and free WIFI to use during our stay. The windows lining the seaside were floor to ceiling so the views were dynamic. We had a very large covered patio with many chairs and tables for enjoying the wildlife and the views. Maid service was impeccable and the cleanliness of the resort was impressive. My favorite part of the room was the huge bathroom with a giant soaking tub, rain-head shower, and wall to wall sliding doors providing a stunning view of the jungle with a private outdoor shower area.
The Isla Palenque resort has 6 Estate Rooms, with three types to choose from: Garden Room, Jungle Rooms, and Ocean Suites. Ours was the Ocean Suite totaling 500 square feet. We ate all of our meals at the Eden Restaurant, located onsite under a thatched roof hut with special meals that changed daily.
Isla Palenque’s Food Options
I felt the choices of meals could have been better because some days we had three beef choices and one vegetarian option. I would have preferred a vegetarian, beef, chicken or pork, and fish choice daily, but regardless the meats were tender and the ceviche was spectacular. The food was always served with fresh and often local fruit and vegetables. Isla Palenque’s tropical desserts were simple, yet tasty. Drinks were available throughout the day for purchase and fresh fruit was also offered.
The common area at Isla Palenque was a large room with oversized furniture that offered spectacular views where guests could visit, read, play games, and such. A small, but gorgeous plunge pool offered an escape from the intense sun. The water was very cold. Below the plunging infinity pool, water ran over the rocks into a pretty water fountain that was on a deck where lounge chairs sat. The view looking up at the resort from below was amazing!
What is There To Do on this Private Jungle Island?
Isla Palenque is decent in size, around 400 acres, with beautiful coastline and beaches. Many hiking paths are there for you to explore, some preferably with a guide due to the terrain and wildlife. My favorite thing about the island were the howler monkeys that came upon us between 2-3 PM every day and were gathered, 20-30 at a time, in the trees around us. I made recordings of the monkeys and it never fails to bring a smile to my face at how exciting it is hearing them.
The resort at Isla Palenque can arrange any activities you may wish to do such as ocean kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, and snorkeling. Just a short distance past this island is one of the most famous sport-fishing destinations. If weather permits, I recommend taking this fishing trip as you could catch rooster fish, mackerel, and snook.
There is an abundance of sea life so diving and snorkeling are sure to satisfy. Another fun excursion is island hopping to nearby Islas Secas where you can watch blowholes erupting as well as possibly seeing sharks and whales along the way. During season, mostly August through November, the humpback whales will be traveling this route and you can almost always spot them.
Restore, Reenergize, and Refuel
In a nutshell, a visit to Isla Palenque will restore, reenergize, and refuel your senses and soul. Eddie and I enjoyed the tranquility, which should almost be bottled up and marketed. It was so overpowering. The island is a very romantic getaway so why not venture there and stay with your special someone?
Check out our other Panama posts: