We built the Sea Monkey on the edge of the local village of Old Bank on purpose because our best travel memories are of staying in local villages or neighborhoods rather than in touristy areas. That being said, it's not for everyone. We love Old Bank for its cultural diversity and because we get to participate in a real local Panamanian community. This is a developing country, however. If you are not comfortable staying at the edge of a diverse village in which there is a wide variety of living conditions, it may not be for you. You will definitely hear our neighbors' chickens crowing and possibly a bit of music coming from the over water bars at the opposite end of town on weekends and during holiday periods. You will also have the opportunity to meet plenty of locals if you would like to, which most of our guests consider a highlight. If you usually prefer large resorts with 24-hour staff in areas that are cordoned off for tourists, however, it may not be the right fit.
Old Bank has paved sidewalks through town and dirt tracks through the jungle. There are no roads and all travel is by foot or by boat, which is one of the reasons we love it so much here.
There is no bank or ATM, though there is one in Bocas Town a short boat ride away.
Bastimentos is a remote island with limited resources. We do everything we can to provide as many comforts as possible, but power outages do occur, as do water shortages. As such, we ask that guests be mindful of their water use (nothing draconian; just no 45-minute showers!). We provide WiFi. It is pretty reliable, but we are on a remote island, so it can be slower than you may be used to at times.
Panama is a developing country and Isla Bastimentos is one of its more remote areas, which means that the island is not at the global forefront of refuse processing. Trash disposal is a challenge here and there are limited facilities for recycling. As such, we ask that you limit your purchases of plastics -- which are the most difficult items to dispose of and process -- in order to help alleviate the burden of plastic trash on the community and the environment. Please bring a reusable water bottle and allow us to refill it for you free of charge rather than buying plastic water bottles.
Old Bank doesn't have any mega-resorts or chain businesses. What it does have is plenty of charm, natural beauty, and cultural diversity. It's a local, Caribbean village. Old Bank is the real deal. It's far less touristy than Bocas Town and provides guests with the chance to mingle with local residents rather than only other travelers (though there are plenty of opportunities for that, as well). There are multiple restaurants and bars out over the water and in the jungle up the hill from the center of town, and beautiful views from just about everywhere.
Old Bank isn't for everyone, but those who appreciate what it has to offer come back over and over (or move here!).
*A special note on holidays: Old Bank is tranquil and quaint most of the time, but it can also be pretty festive during the major Panamanian holidays and over Christmas and New Year. We are at the far edge of town, but on some holidays it can be a little noisy due to the Caribbean love for a good party. You can always check with us to see whether any holidays fall during your stay.