El Panama Hotel | Banana’s Resort on Isla Grande (A Review)

By: Chris Walker – Our family went and stayed for 3 days / nights in the Banana’s resort on Isla Grande. Overall we enjoyed our stay. The scenery was beautiful, the staff was very friendly, and the accommodations were excellent. The group was running a pricing “lodging special” for kids to stay free. What was not included was transportation from Panama City, meal costs on the island (except for breakfast), and the water taxi to get to the island. Thankfully, we brought cash with us to cover the water taxi, as that charge was not a piece of information until we were in the van on the way. Trying to secure a reservation was a cumbersome process that involved emails, international phone calls, and international faxes. It was challenging to get it done, and the lack of information that we are used to having (confirmations, confirmation numbers, etc) left us wondering if we really were going. We used their taxi service to get there, as our planned arrangements to get there ourselves fell apart. The driver was nice, prompt, and did his best to avoid the potholes on the road beyond Portobello. (more…)

The atmosphere was what we expected: isolated, resort like, and because we went mid-week, we were with just a few other people, it was not the crowd that we saw arriving on Friday for the weekend.

In terms of food, it is said that you can walk to town for meals, if you don’t want to eat at the resort. We did that one day, but it was a strenuous hike over a small mountain through the forest – not doable at night, and barely doable for a family with small children. We enjoyed the hike, but never left the resort again. When we asked the construction workers about the hike, they simply said they take the boat around to the other side.

Thus, you are a virtual captive of the resort for food. The food it self was OK, not spectacular, but not awful, and the pricing for tourists. 9.00 for pasta alfredo, 9.00 for corvina, are examples. After a few days, the selection seems very small.

In our cabin, we had spacious room with ceiling fans, air conditioner, and a sliding glass door. A screen on the door would have been a beautiful addition to sleep to ocean sounds at night, rather than the hum of and AC. In our cabin, we had no hot water. We don’t know if ours was broken, or if that’s normal. It didn’t bother us however so we never asked or complained. But for those prices, I would think hot water would be available.

All told, we still spent about what we would have spent to stay at the all-inclusive Decameron or something like that. But our family has unforgettable memories and had a good time. We wanted to be remote, disconnected and isolated. Banana’s on Isla Grande allowed that to happen. I can’t imagine staying more than just 2 or three days unless you are fine with the limited food choices and the swimming options of the sea or pools. Three days was fine enough for us.


Editor’s Comments: Thank you very much, Chris. I just love to get these trip reports from around Panama. Anyone who would like to write up a quick “been there, done that” kind of thing please feel free and send them to and thanks.

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Source: VIP Panama