Islas Secas, Panama

The review:

Islas Secas, Panama

Your own private archipelago

The only resort we know of to have taken over an entire archipelago, Islas Secas comprises 14 islands, scattered like gems in a jade-green ocean, 20 miles off the coast of Panama in the breathtaking Gulf of Chiriqui. With the largest of the islands accommodating a maximum of just 24 guests – and the rest lying empty but begging to be explored – Islas Secas is the perfect playground for adventurous couples and fun-loving families.

“Taking sustainable luxury to a whole new level, Islas Secas in an inspiring eco-destination that redefines the idea of getting off the grid.”

Things to do

People come here to unplug. Days are generally spent hanging out on the beach, kayaking, paddle-boarding, fishing or snorkelling. Humpback whales can be seen from the property and on boat trips in the gulf between July and August and December and April. Boats can also be taken to nearby Coiba National Park, a UNESCO-designated protected marine area that offers excellent diving among one of the largest coral reefs in the eastern Pacific. On land, daily yoga classes and 60-minute spa treatments are included in the room charge, as are guided treks in the surrounding hills, home to over 50 species of resident and migratory birds.

The highlight of most stays, however, is getting marooned on a private beach. With 13 uninhabited islands to choose from, there are plenty of beaches to go around. Whether you go for a morning, afternoon or full day, staff will ensure you have everything you need for an all-out-luxe Robinson Crusoe experience, including kayaks, snorkelling gear, your favourite wine and a well-stocked picnic.

Sleeping

Four individually designed casitas and three tented suites are located on the largest of the islands, Isla Cavada. The suites and smallest casita are achingly romantic and perfect for couples, while the larger two- and four-bedroom casitas provide all the space you need for a family adventure.

All have knock-out ocean views, private terraces and indoor-outdoor showers – casitas have private pools. Canopy beds are done up in crisp white linens, and there are plenty of comfy chairs, inside and out, in which to sprawl with a book. There are no TVs but the wi-fi is pretty reliable.

Food and drink

Food is fresh, local, tasty and simple, with Noma-trained chefs serving up the likes of suckling pig, fresh-from-the-sea lobster and locally grown vegetables at the laidback Terraza restaurant. Menus change daily but for a change of scene, you can always opt instead for a beach picnic, sunset barbecue or poolside lunch.

What stands out

Service here is impeccable, with staff all equally courteous, helpful, discreet and efficient. They’re all passionate environmentalists too – fitting in a resort that’s leading the sustainability charge. Eco-credentials include running completely off solar power, recycling all food waste, filtering and re-using wastewater for irrigation, and providing all guests on arrival with reusable water bottles.

Best for

It’s unusual to find somewhere as perfect for families as it is for couples, but Islas Secas is precisely that. The two- and four-bedroom casitas are ideal for families, and there are more than enough activities to satisfy the thrill quota of older kids and teens. Couples, meanwhile, will find the new tented suites adorable, and what could be more romantic than being marooned with your loved one on your own private beach?

The Verdict

We’re hugely excited about Islas Secas. It provides that rare combination of total luxury, complete privacy, romance and adventure all rolled into one, set far from the madding crowd and yet operating in the most sustainable way imaginable. It’s not too hard to get to either. A range of European carriers offers flights to Panama City, where we’d recommend a night or two en route to the islands. From there it’s a 45-minute flight to the city of David, then a 20-minute transfer to the coast and a 90-minute speedboat ride to Islas Secas, complete with cool box full of beer and champagne.

Have questions? Our knowledgeable team of experts are on-hand to take your call or if you prefer by Zoom. Talk to us about your holiday dreams or challenge us with your travel conundrums.

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