Tranquilo Bay Eco Lodge by Renee H. Kimball in Bocas del Toro, Panama

Global Yodel recently had the opportunity to experience the eco adventure lodge Tranquilo Bay in Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

Located on Isla Bastimentos, Tranquilo Bay encompasses over 200 acres of precious tropical rainforest, mangrove forest, and coral reef.

The grounds are beautiful and lush with over a mile of onsite hiking trails. Trails can be explored with one of Tranquilo Bay’s highly knowledgeable live-in biologists who will point out hiding poison dart frogs, or take you to a secret hummingbird bathing spot. Your breath will definitely be taken away when you reach the top of their canopy tower standing 100 feet above sea level. This amazing structure, and  highlight of the property, brings you to the top of the forest canopy for a panoramic view where you will be able to observe the 180+ species of birds as well as other wildlife. It’s a whole new perspective when you are able to look down on birds flying by as opposed to up.

Be prepared to eat delicious food, feel like part of the family, and get fully immersed in the culture of Isla Bastimentos, Bocas Del Toro.

We sat down with Tranquilo Bay owner/operator Renee Kimball, to learn more about this special paradise off the beaten path.

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Name:Renee H. Kimball

Place you live: Tranquilo Bay Eco Adventure Lodge, Bocas del Torro, Panama

Can you sum up Bocas Del Toro? Bocas del Toro is both an archipelago and a province full of natural wonders. The eclectic mix of cultures and languages make it quite a melting pot. The animals, beaches, ocean, plants and rain forest all come together to make it special.

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Occupation: Hotel Owner / Operator

Tell us about Tranquilo Bay: The lodge is located on approximately 200 acres that we are keeping as a private nature reserve. We have six cabanas situated on a small parcel of the preserve with the entire area open to our guests for their exploration. We have both the jungle and the ocean right outside our door.

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What is unique about Tranquilo Bay? Tranquilo Bay is an immersion experience. Our guests are surrounded by nature on our grounds and have over a kilometer of ocean frontage at their disposal. We go on excursions with our naturalist guides to explore all that Bocas del Toro has to offer.

Tell us a little about the history of Tranquilo Bay. Jim and Jay came to Bocas del Toro in October 1999. They determined that Bocas was the right place for us to create our business, but did not find the exact location during that first trip. Jim returned in December 1999 permanently. He found this specific property shortly after. Jay joined him to begin the construction process in February 2000. The spouses stayed in Houston working so that we might send money down to fund the project. We opened in July 2005. Each year we complete some project that will improve our guest’s experience. We finished the canopy observation tower in 2013.

What is the wildlife like?  AMAZING. Our bird list includes almost 450 species and close to 200 of those have been seen onsite. Sea life is very interesting and beautiful to see on snorkeling trips. Thousands of insects, frogs, sloths, white-faced capuchin monkeys and western night monkeys may all be seen onsite.

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What is a perfect day in Bocas Del Toro? Begin the day with breakfast featuring local specialties, fruits and Panamanian Coffee. Take a jungle hike to see some of the rainforest wildlife. Follow with a picnic trip to one of the gorgeous beaches in Bocas. A late afternoon climb to the top of the canopy observation tower to watch the birds commute home and cocktails, dinner and a gorgeous moonrise would be a great way to close the day.

If someone was visiting Bocas Del Toro, what must they do? Take a walk around Bocas Town to see some of the architectural history of the Banana Republic.
Try some local culinary specialties.
Take a jungle hike.
Go to the beach – pick one any one. My favorites are on Isla Bastimentos and the Zapatilla Cayes, both of which are part of the Bastimentos National Marine Park.

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What do you love about Bocas Del Toro?
It is unique. Bocas is part of Panama, but yet it is its own special place. The people here are warm and friendly. All of the different cultures blend into an interesting Caribbean stew. Nature surrounds us and there is always something to do outside.

What do you dislike about Bocas Del Toro?
Logistics. Living on an island in an archipelago has its challenges. Just when I think I have it all figured out, something changes and creates a new puzzle for me to solve.

What is a little known fact about Bocas Del Toro? During the height of the Banana Republic, Bocas had more embassies than Panama City.


Name:Renee H. Kimball

City:Bocas del Toro

Best local cuisine?

Afro-Caribbean, coconut-based dishes of all kinds, like Rondon Stew, Johnny Cake and coconut curries.

Best local drinks?

Ron Ponche at Christmas. It is a really thick eggnog laced with local rum.

Local tip?

Say “hasta luego” not “adios”. Adios is too permanent. Better to say see you later.

Best daytime activity?

Spending some time on the beautiful Caribbean Sea.

Best nighttime activity?

Watching the moon rise and the stars shine.