Beaches are pristine and often deserted.
Are you going to be Fyre Festivaled? Does this place even exist? Has anyone you know been there?
These are the kinds of questions you get before heading off to vacation somewhere that seems too good to be true—somewhere cool and exotic that hasn’t been geotagged on Instagram, an over-the-top luxurious spot that even your most over-the-top luxurious friends don’t know about—somewhere like Isla Palenque, the newest property from award-winning luxury hospitality group Cayuga Collection. To get there, you take a plane, car, boat and then an all-terrain island vehicle. But once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave.
From top: For its deep connection to nature, Isla Palenque was recently named a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World; one of Isla Palenque’s eight private—and air-conditioned—casitas
The 400-acre luxury resort is situated on Panama’s Pacific coast near the protected Gulf of Chiriquí National Marine Park and just south of Costa Rica. There are more howler monkeys than humans on the island, which makes for a wild greeting reminiscent of the opening scenes of Jurassic Park. (Other notable wildlife includes bottlenose dolphins, giant sea turtles and a veritable rainbow of tropical birds.) You are alone but also very much not alone—even when you are in your private casita. This is how the resort refers to its eight secluded beachfront suites, which were completed in late 2018. Each one is tucked away in palm groves with a private path straight to the pristine—and often deserted—beach. The decor is eco-luxe with highlights including a daybed hammock for morning coffee and a soaker tub for open-air baths under a blanket of stars.
From top: Every meal is fine dining; freshly caught pulpo.
Even the food is jaw-dropping. As with all Cayuga properties, Isla Palenque operates with a healthy respect for sustainability. Fresh dock-to-dish seafood, local and seasonal organic produce and grass-fed, hormone-free meats fill the menu. It’s a five-star culinary experience—you just happen to be wearing a swimsuit and sunscreen while taking it all in. But it’s when the bartender whips up a piña colada using coconuts and pineapples he picked that morning that you realize you’ll have a very, very hard time returning to civilization. Casitas including meals $770-$980 per night, @islapalenque
The pool area
Photography by: isla palenque