As many readers know, Bocas Del Toro is one of the premier holiday destinations in Panama. It’s a small town in the northwest facing the Caribbean Sea, and a spectacular place to relax, rejuvenate, and visit breathtaking beaches. It was the perfect destination for a luxury villa-style resort, and thanks to one of the world’s most creative entrepreneurs, Bocas Del Toro has yet another reason to visit.
The Bocas Bali resort is a marvel of architectural wonder. The resort sits on only nine acres of dry land, over eighty acres of mangrove, and 3.1 miles of shoreline. The idea here was to create an experience similar to Tahiti, Bora Bora, or the Maldives, all without leaving the Western Time Zone.
Like the locations mentioned above, the resort’s accommodation features over-water villas just 15 minutes from downtown Bocas Del Toro. However, there are a few distinct differences in Bocas Bali. The first is what the mastermind behind the resort, Dan Behm, calls an “Aerial Beach”.
When selecting the location for Bocas Bali, there was a small challenge with the island. Frangipani Island, the nine-acre dry portion of the property, was without a beach or stretch of sand. This would obviously pose a problem for people paying a premium to stay at Bocas Bali. Nevertheless, Behm was told he could “create” a beach, so he did.
In simple terms, the man-made beach is similar to a concrete terrace that’s filled with sand. The wide, dock-like structure is supported by 40-foot-tall concrete-filled PVC pilings that have been bored into the ocean floor using high-pressure water jets. On its edge, a series of steps descend into the 30-foot deep waters, sort of like walking right into the deep end of a pool.
Above ground, the beach is meant to feel just like the real deal almost anywhere else, complete with lounge service and a food truck. Guests can grab snorkeling gear and see everything from nurse sharks to stingrays right near the steps without having to swim out. A sophisticated (and invisible) drainage system prevents water-polluting runoff on the concrete structure as well.
The design process for Behm’s beach was a yearslong process, with sustainability as a goal. Daniel Cáceres, an environmental auditor who has either assessed or helped create some 300 eco-friendly projects throughout Panama, provided guidance on the least invasive way to approach the project. “To introduce sand in areas where it doesn’t occur naturally, we feared it would disturb the coral and the mangroves,” Behm says. With this in mind, careful consideration went into every detail of the construction.
Bocas Bali is 100% off the grid. They use solar energy, purified rainwater, and an eco-friendly wastewater treatment system engineered specifically for a mangrove island. They’ve conducted two environmental studies to ensure they are being kind to the mangrove and caring for its crystal-clear waters. They also constructed and placed their overwater buildings in specific areas to avoid interfering with the coral surrounding the private island.
The sand and palm trees came from different parts of Panama and the green quartz steps of the aerial beach were flown in from India. Their custom overwater villas were crafted in Bali, Indonesia, and the 100-year-old Elephant House restaurant was shipped halfway around the world.
You’ll notice an adoration for Balinese architecture, interior design, and beautiful wood and stone carvings. Their clubhouse, nicknamed the Colonnade, is the center of activity at Bocas Bali and includes The Coral Café, plus an enticing 70-foot pool, gym, and spa.
The villas themselves are carefully designed to bring the most comfortable and elegant stay possible. Guests can enjoy 1,100 square feet of spectacular alfresco living, resting on stilts over the Caribbean Sea. In addition to a private pool and terrace, each villa features a king bed with sumptuous linens and an elegant hand-carved soapstone mural. In traditional Balinese style, artists dedicated over 1,000 hours to carving each villa’s teak wood furnishings. The average nightly rate will come in around $1,000usd.
For more information on this incredible development, you can visit their website here.