Despite Hacienda del Mar's remoteness it's surprisingly easy to get here via a short plane ride from Panama City -- making it an upscale beach resort for discriminating travelers who aren't looking to journey far from the capital. The bungalows are best described as rustically elegant, built predominantly out of the handsome bamboolike caña blanca. Each bungalow has ocean views, and a balcony/deck with chaise-longue chairs to kick back on and enjoy the unsurpassed beauty of the island's surroundings. The front door opens onto flowering hibiscus and jasmine. For the price, it's best said that the rooms are not so much luxurious as they are ultra-comfortable, and like most eco-oriented lodges, there is no TV or Internet in the rooms, encouraging guests to unplug from the modern world. Junior-suite bungalows have an additional couch and a little more room, and their VIP suites have a separate living room. Each bungalow is sold as a unit, not per person. Breakfast is included, with other meals a la carte.
If you're into sport fishing, this is your place. The Hacienda has five boats that can take you shore or deep-sea fishing (they'll cook up whatever you catch back at the lodge) for wahoo, amberjack, sailfish, and tuna. This, as with most excursions here that involve a boat or guide, costs extra. There are also wildlife and bird-watching tours, ATV tours across the island, canoeing and kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling, jet-ski tours, and mountain bike riding. Because this is a private island, wildlife has been allowed to flourish, so don't be surprised to see a collared peccary or brocket deer during your stay. The meals here are absolutely delicious -- made using fresh seafood and organic fruits and vegetables -- and are served on an open-air deck infused with sunset colors and candlelight. Prices below do not include airfare (an extra $125/£66) round-trip), and reflect low to high season rates. Check their website, as they often lower prices by $50 (£25) or more if booking between Sunday and Wednesday.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010