Transiting the Panama Canal can be a once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list experience. What it’s not is a relaxing pleasure cruise. There’re crowds, time constraints and costs. That’s what makes it so important, and pleasurable, to visit a spot totally the opposite of the canal zone just before or after a transit. Chart your course for beautiful Isla Bastimentos, located 150 nautical miles to the west on Panama’s Caribbean Sea side. It’s a relaxed tropical destination, ready to explore by land and sea, with first-rate facilities and reasonable rates at IGY’s Red Frog Marina.
“The quiet of nature and sounds of the ocean make Red Frog the perfect spot for rest and relaxation after a long sailing trip,” invites Chelsea Miller, marina staff member.
Isla Bastimentos is a 24-square-mile island, and one of the largest of the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, a chain of islands located west in Panama in the Caribbean Sea. The island itself is home to the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park and the Red Frog Island Resort’s Nature Preserve, both of which cover a large portion of the island. The crowds here are Mother Nature made: schools of fish, flocks of birds and species of amphibians galore. Add to this miles of beautiful beaches, lush mangrove forests and -easily-navigable waterways. Its this setting that makes for a watersport’s wonderland.
“Enjoy your days lounging in crystal-clear waters off coastline beaches. Many areas around the island are great for surfing and beautiful to sit on and enjoy while the sun is setting. Snorkel in Crawl Cay or Blue Coconut; Polo Beach has deep caves. There is smooth, flat water perfect for kayaking and stand up paddle-boarding around the mangroves and its usually possible to see dolphins,” says Miller.
IGY’s Red Frog Marina is a great base from which to explore this seaside paradise of Isla Bastimentos. There are 95 slips, with 12 megayacht berths for vessels up to 300-feet LOA, and a 20-foot draft. On-site provisioning includes a recently-built market with all the basics for a picnic or quick meal. There’s also full-service fueling, dockside power and water, Wi-Fi, cell phone coverage, laundry service, accommodations ashore from a lodge to 4-bedroom villas, on-site restaurant, golf cart rentals and 24-hour security. What’s more, rates are reasonable: monohulls 35-foot and up start at US 44-cents per foot, catamarans 35-foot and up US 59-cents per foot, and megayachts over 80-foot US $1.88 per foot. Special group rates, fuel incentives and discounts up to 35 percent for vessels staying longer than 3 months are also available. It’s certainly worth transiting from the Pacific to Caribbean via the Panama Canal just to visit Isla Bastimentos and IGY’s Red Frog Marina. www.igymarinas.com/marinas/panama