Puntas Caracol in Bocas del Toro ?

Jan 24th, 2004, 05:49 PM
  #1  
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Puntas Caracol in Bocas del Toro ?

Has anyone stayed at the Puntas Caracol Aqualodge in Bocas del Toro? It looks fabulous, but I would love to hear from someone that has been there!
LA_FadeAway is offline  
Jan 24th, 2004, 07:25 PM
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We will be leaving for five nights at Punta Caracol on Feb. 12th. I can let you know when I return.
DawnRainbows is offline  
Jan 24th, 2004, 10:21 PM
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Please do, I'm considering going there this summer. Thanks!
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Feb 24th, 2004, 11:49 PM
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DawnRainbows,
Have you returned yet? I can't wait to hear your review!!!
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Feb 26th, 2004, 01:38 PM
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We had mixed feelings about the property. The location is very beautiful and the bungalows are nice. They are two levels with the bedroom on top and a living room area and bathroom below. Very large. The food is above average, in particular the dinners. The water is fairly warm and not very deep around the bungalows so you can swim without fear. The downsides are as follows: not much warm water so the showers are cold, we also had a large cockroach in our bed one night, and the day tours are a DISASTER!!!! The day tours are completely unorganized, you never leave before 11 AM and are only gone a few hours, and they just send you off with this guy in a boat who speaks no English and has no knowledge to impart (he is the owner's sister's husband). Day Tours are a complete waste of time and money so if you are only going for 2 days, then no problem you can just spend your time in the bungalow, but after a few days you need to get out. Lunch and the drinks are REALLY overpriced, particularly for Panama. It is a mixed bag. If I were you, I would check out Hacienda del Mar in the Pearl Islands.
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Feb 26th, 2004, 02:15 PM
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Thanks for the trip report, Dawn Rainbows. I have been considering a trip to Bocas for some time. Did you see any other properties there which you liked? I have been to the Pearl Islands (I grew up in Panama) but never Bocas. It has been a dream for some time.
cmcfong is online now  
Feb 26th, 2004, 03:06 PM
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Hmm, interesting. I would love to check out the Pearl Islands, but that will have to be on another trip, since they are further from CR. I really want to see the Zapatillos Keys in Bocas. Maybe I should stay in Bocas town for our first night and do a tour from there and then just spend a night or two at Puntas Caracol. Or, maybe we should try Al Natural instead? Any feedback on that place? Also, how is the snorkeling around the bungalows? I've speant some time in French Polynesia, so I'm a little spoiled when it comes to overwater bungalows and snorkeling. Thank you so much for the advice. I'd hate to spend that kind of money and then be disappointed!
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Feb 26th, 2004, 03:08 PM
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Oh, one more question... when you say drinks and lunch are overpriced, how bad? How much is an average mixed drink? I've been to some seriously overpriced places, so it's always nice to know what to expect.
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Feb 27th, 2004, 09:00 AM
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If you really want to see Zapatillos Keys, especially for scuba diving, then I would go with an operator from Bocas town. Punta Caracol offers a trip to that location, but as I have said they are rather short trips and overpriced compared to the rates in Bocas town. However, I would say that you need to spend at least 2 nights at Punta Caracol otherwise you don't really get to relax and enjoy the bungalow experience. I have not seen Al Natural, but I do know that the Lonely Planet guide raves about it. The snorkeling around the bungalows is okay. The water is very, very calm most of the time and there are some interesting rays and fish, however, most of the larger fish like to hide under the bungalows. Actually, the best snorkeling around seems to be around the bungalows as opposed to the day trip locations. It seems that Bocas suffers from a severe overfishing problem so there are not a lot of fish around anywhere. Even the people who went scuba diving said that they did not see a lot of fish, however, the coral is in great shape. The prices are not overpriced by American standards, but they are crazy overpriced by Panamanian standards. Lunch was usually $30 for some little tacos and a soda for 2 people. The cocktails were $6. When you compare this to the prices in Panama City is is triple.
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Feb 27th, 2004, 10:00 AM
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Thanks for all the great information. I'm still trying to decide if we want to stay there or not.
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Mar 24th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Punta Caracol is a super place if you want to escape but if you want to do other things during the day I wouldn't recommend it - especially at the prices they charge.
Nice accomodation in Bocas Town can be found at Hotel Bocas del Toro, El Limbo on the Sea or Cocomo on the Sea. Al Natural is quite rustic and again a bit out of the way but gets good reviews from those that like that sort of thing.
Snorkeling and diving best organized with Bocas Watersports in Bocas Town - good reputation.
Cheers,
Andrew
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Mar 24th, 2004, 11:34 AM
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Andrew,
Thanks for the report. We're thinkin of spending two nights at Punta Caracol for some good R&R and then spending a night at Hotel Bocas del Toro to see the town and maybe take a tour with them. Does that sound reasonable?
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Mar 25th, 2004, 12:21 AM
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My family and I (myself and spouse, 2 kids ages 3 & 7, and grandparents) were in Bocas in January of this year. We stayed at the Hotel Bocas del Toro for three nights (without kids we would've considered Punta Caracol for one night). Grandparents were in one room, we were in room #11, which is the top floor triple room that overlooks the sea and has the lanai with an awesome view of Carenero and Solarte. Room was spacious and clean but spartan, with a double and two twin beds, a/c, shower with very hot water, lots of nice wood. Not a bad option, but if room with view was unavailable, I would probably try a different hotel. Staff and owner indifferent, breakfast service (included in room rate) very slow. Had dinner at the El Limbo one night and the night manager showed us a room which looked like a good option for the future--the mini-fridge was a big plus for me.

We also met the owner of the brand new (Dec. '03) Tropical Suites Hotel, located just a few doors down beside the IPAT tourist "center." She gave us a tour of their apartment studios--queen sized bed, fold-out couch, modern amenities, bathroom with Jacuzzi tub (?!), full kitchen. No restaurant on premises but bar off deck in near-future. The owner mentioned that they were looking into investing in their own water filtration/water storage system (partially to help ease their taxing the limited Bocas water supply w/their jacuzzi tubs . . .). With kids, this is probably where we'll stay next time.

Re. tour operators, we spent two full days out (9:30-6 and 9:30-4:30) with one of the local tour boat operators (part of the local boatsmen collective) and had a fantastic time! Capitán Teodoro had been specifically recommended by my cousins who had used him in December, and we were very pleased with his friendly and knowledgeable service, flexibility (e.g., itinerary changes because kids wanted to stay longer at beaches), and attentiveness. Capitán Teo was from the area and shared a lot of history as well as the changes around the islands. He also seemed to be more respectful of the surroundings than some of the tour boat operators we observed. (Only caveat is, I'm not sure how English proficient he is, since we spoke Spanish.) There were so many highlights, including the Bay of Dolphins, Zapatilla, starfish beach, bird island, the mangroves, etc. We also snorkeled each day, the first day between islands near Crawl Cay and the next day out in the open ocean, and I was amazed at how varied (types, color, species) the marine biodiversity was from one location to the next.

Sorry this is so wordy but I hope this is helpful.
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Mar 25th, 2004, 01:05 PM
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Thanks for all the info! I hope the snorkling is still good in July (rainy seson).
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