After our travel plans changed to include the Caribbean side of Panama, we were on the search for a place to stay. Both of us like our quiet time, so staying on the most popular island of Bocas del Toro didn’t seem like our option. A big part of this area is referred to as the New Orleans of the Caribbean. This means party, party, party! Food! Booze! Shopping! Don’t get me wrong, we do love to party, but we also like to go to bed early!
Chris searched and found us a great looking place on a neighboring Island. Starfish Reef Resort, located on the Southwest side of Isla Pastores.
This is a small island right off the mainland. We parked at the gas station in Almirante and met our captain and proprietor, Jack at the attached Marina. Jack and his wife moved to this property ten years previous and built this resort. They had planned on selling the lots and renting the villas to the buyers while they were building their own dream vacation destinations. Unfortunately, as Jack put it, “The World Wide Economic Crisis!” hit, and not long after, Jacks wife decided to head back to the mainland and leave the island resort life behind. This left, “Just Jack!” Funny old guy from Texas!
Jack’s place was pretty relaxing. It was a comfortable two bed/two bath two story villa. Below was an extra unit, if you needed more room. This place has three Villas to rent right above Jack’s villa. Perfect place for families or a large groups of friends to vacation!
Calm shallow reef right in front of the property! Look out for those jellyfish!
We took a long walk around the grounds. The views were amazing. I could envision Jack’s dream. The island used to be an old chocolate plantation and cocoa trees are everywhere. Jack even gave us a huge bag of baked cocoa beans to take home! I ground them up for smoothies!
Every Tuesday and Sunday a group of expats load up the boats and head over to the Rana Azul. Tucked away in one of the coves of the mainland, south of Almirante, you will find this fun open bar and restaurant. It is owned and operated by an expat from Europe. We hung out for a few drinks, some pizza, and to meet some of the local expats! It was interesting to hear all the stories of what brought people to this area of Panama, what they did while they were there, and what they missed the most about home. They basically live in small communities, happily self- sufficient, with local Panamanians. Most have only boat access. It would be a little too isolated for me. I like isolation with population just close enough. We hung out until the dancing started and decided to make our way back, while it was still light out!
You can also stop by Ernie’s for a quick drink and snack! This is also a local stop along the water. They even have groceries! Small selection, but we stopped for a quick drink and some cheese. Yeah, you read that correctly….cheese. Two slices of American cheese…in the cellophane. But, we did get to see some cool parrots, adorable local children, and the most beautiful blue eyed puppy!