04 Dec TSS Journal 1704/ Warm Water, Winter Escape. Zero Jive.
It Doesn’t Get Sweeter
Than Sweet Bocas.
Once again, my world has been expanded and enriched by my surfing life. Following a hot tip from an old friend, I finally had the opportunity to experience the Caribbean side of Panama and, as an added bonus, bring my family. After years of hearing great tales of this region, what we discovered in Bocas Del Toro blew our minds. Within a seven-hour plane ride from LAX, we found a new playing field of adventure, surf, beauty and social endeavors.
The crowning jewel of this discovery is the private island estate, Sweet Bocas. This unique adventure home encompasses everything I look and wish for in world life experiences. Sweet Bocas, is a six hectare property, that includes the second largest lake in Bocas Del Toro and a working permaculture farm. Its most distinctive feature is the seven bed-room, three-story, custom teak villa that floats above a warm Caribbean reef teeming with marine life. The house is surrounded by a deck that provides sweeping 360 degree views of the water and surrounding area. This island property also features a freshwater infinity pool (that can be changed to saltwater), a state-of the art work out room, a tennis court, a mobile party pontoon, two additional glamping structures, and lots of magical grounds to explore.
The villa was designed by restauranteur and entrepreneur, Annick Belanger. The property she first discovered was an abandoned house in a pristine location. Belanger recognized a diamond in the rough, pulled in partner and family, and then devoted years into transforming the property into a one-of-a-kind travel experience that is still evolving. The attention to detail in this home from furnishings to fixtures is exceptional. Belanger is a word travel and has brought back distinctive pieces from far flung places such as India, Morocco, Senegal, and Italy to create a fun, colorful and luxurious environment. The food is equally as exciting and flavorful. We were served 3 exceptional meals a day by Sweet Bocas’s own private chef.
Exploring the surrounding regions and beaches was an adventure every time. There are no roads to the property, all travel is done by boat and the best of Bocas is seen from these water taxi rides. The Caribbean vibe that permeates the local town and water culture gives this place real soul. Sweet Bocas has several different vessels to explore water from; a high-speed, full cabin 30-foot motor yacht, a more relaxed, covered Panga, and a traditional Panamanian solid wood, dug out canoe (with a motor).
Although we arrived early to the true surf season, we found lots of waves and were able to see the incredible potential this area holds. The main surf season runs from late November to March. There is also a secondary season in June, July and August. The waves are varied to fit all needs; sand beaches of the highest quality to reef points and secrets breaks lie around every bend in this archipelago. We spent a day at Bocas’s famed Carenero Point and even at two foot this left provided tons of clean and fun rides. During high season, most surfers tend to stay close to town. This leaves a wealth of opportunity for those surfers who are willing to travel a bit farther by boat. Waves without other surfers are definitely part of the Bocas experience.
The other big advantage to this area is ease of travel. There are dozens of direct international connections to Panama City. Paris, Madrid, New York City, San Francisco all have flights that are ten hours are less. Bocas Town is a one hour flight from Panama and Sweet Bocas is a 10 minute boat ride from the town. Guests can take a commercial flight or arranging a charter is very easy as well.
Last but not least, our other favorite discovery here was the non-profit Give and Surf. We were very fortunate to have dinner and then spend a full day at the beach with it’s founder, Neil Christensen and his wife Katherine. Give and Surf first started with the creation of a pre-school for the local children. The success of this project gave way to a larger organization with multitude of programs created to empower the local people of Bocas. Give and Surf operates with a huge network of volunteers and interns that come to stay in Bocas for weeks or even months to volunteer. Many of the volunteers share a passion for surfing thus the name, Give and Surf. We were honored to to meet Neil and Katherine and look forward to doing what we can to help their cause.
After this visit, Bocas Del Toro now stands as one of TSS’s top shelf aquatic and surf experiences. I highly encourage you to come and visit Bocas and commune with the pristine mangroves that Christopher Columbus sailed through. Sweet Bocas is the true stand out as the premiere property to indulge yourself in. Put this one on the bucket list for the next family gathering, special event or surgical surf strike. For Central America destinations, this is my first choice by far. Zero Jive.
**Due to a recent cancellation, Sweet Bocas is available for Christmas/New Years 2017.
Please get in touch asap for more details.
The master bedroom suite.
The infinity pool and work-out room in the distance. The clear tropical water beneath the deck is abundant with spotted rays, snapper, toros, the occasional dolphin, and other vibrant sea life.
Dolphins on a glassy morning boat ride.
An afternoon in Bocas town.
Gazing out at Carenero Point. The beaches we boated to looked like Hawaii fifty years ago, untouched and sweet with ripe coconuts everywhere.
A traditional Panamanian bungalow on the outer islands of Bocas.
Finding some fun waves at the beautiful white sand beaches of Kusapin.
Sweet Bocas’s boathouse and waterside bar.
The floating party pontoon ready for guests.