If you’re looking for an accommodation that’s less stuffy and formal than what a standard villa offers, Sweet Bocas, a unique oasis in Panama, is in a class by itself.

Here, adventure beckons and embraces you, and to ensure privacy, only one group, be it three people or fourteen, is allowed at a time.

The one question to ponder is: what does adventure look like to you? Does it mean loading your day with back to back activities until you barely have the energy to drag yourself to bed? Would you rather do the minimum and be waited on by a doting staff? Perhaps a blend of both? You’re free to decide these specifics for yourself, which is exactly how a vacation should be.

Photo Courtesy of Alfonse de Bejar

Located on a private island within the archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Sweet Bocas, though remote, is surrounded by history spanning centuries. According to legend, the name of the archipelago can be traced back to 1502, when “the sound of immense waves crashing against volcanic rocks reminded conquistadors of the roar of a bull.”

Over the years, freed slaves, buccaneers, and indigenous groups established communities here, relying on nature’s abundant fruits to sustain themselves.

Sweet Bocas, founded by Annick Belanger, has a two pronged goal. First, to provide a sanctuary for guests to unwind and luxuriate, and second, to honor the environment by being self-sustainable. Belanger was inspired by her father, who pioneered a number of vocational programs which have had broad impact over the years. She wanted to give back in her own way, and working with one of the chiefs in the indigenous community in Bocas del Toro has been instrumental in making that possible.

The estate consists of a teak home with sprawling, yet warm interiors against a backdrop of lush jungle. The splashes of color in the furniture correlate well with the wood, and are tasteful rather than ostentatious. Listen to tunes courtesy of the Sonos sound system, while you chat over cocktails with friends in the communal areas. Meditate on the decks facing the freshwater lake, or take a dip in the pool before retiring to one of the seven bedrooms.

When you’re ready to dine, the only time you’ll need to lift a finger is to eat whatever delicacy your private chef has prepared. You can be assured that only the freshest ingredients, most of which are grown on the estate’s organic farm, are used.

If you have any culinary aspirations of your own, and would like to learn more about Panamanian cuisine, a cooking class can be arranged. This is just one of an exhaustive list of activities and services that can be added to your in-house itinerary, along with art classes, yoga and mediation, massage therapy sessions, and just about anything else your mind can conceive.

Photo Courtesy of Alfonse de Bejar

As tempting as it may be to simply stay at “home,” there’s no way you’re going to travel to Central America without exploring the great outdoors at least once. Rise early, and after a hearty breakfast, the captain of a 30-foot yacht can take you for a ride on the jade and blue waters. If you have any interest in surfing, you’re in luck, because Bocas del Toro is known for it, and the prime surfing season is November through April.

Photo by Emma Li

Approximately seven minutes away by boat is Isla Colon, where you’ll find five spots to catch some waves. Waikiki is mellow enough for children and beginners, while Bluff, Paunch, and Dumpers are best suited for experienced surfers. The fifth, Tiger Tail, can be as temperamental as the name suggests. Sometimes the conditions are fine for first timers and other times, probably not. Isla Bastimentos and Isla Caranero offer more surfing sites, and are a bit further from the estate, about ten to fifteen minutes by boat.

Unless you’re familiar with surfing as a sport, and the nature of the waves in this region, it’s best to have an instructor, which Sweet Bocas can provide for you on request.

As far as additional water activities go, there’s water skiing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and swimming, among others. You also have the chance to hike, explore the local villages, go on tours with a seasoned guide, and learn about farming practices. The possibilities are truly endless, and you’ll be able to craft memories that will stay with you for years into the future.

Whether you’re traveling with your partner, a few friends, or your family, Sweet Bocas is truly a jewel in Panama’s crown, and offers everything for the modern, socially conscious traveler. If you’re interested in rates, you can inquire directly via the link above.