This Private Island Resort Didn’t Have A Beach. So It Built One.

The exclusive new Bocas Bali resort also offers 16 overwater villas and will soon unveil luxe treehouses.

By Rachel Cormack 11/04/2022

What do you do when your private island retreat is missing a beach? If you’re hotelier Dan Behm, you build one yourself.

The former tech exec, who opened the Bocas Bali resort in Panama last September, has just added what he claims is the world’s first “elevated beach” to the exclusive Frangipani Island in Bocas Del Toro.

“When we were first introduced to the private island I needed a little convincing to see past the absence of a white sand beach, but the island had everything else and some things I didn’t even know I wanted, so we started to think about how we could construct a beach that looked to be part of the island without any negative impact to the mangroves, coral or surrounding sea life,” Behm told Robb Report via email.

Bocas Bali unveils the world's first elevated beach called Kupu-Kupu Beach

The elevated beach features a dedicated bar, of course.

The engineers at Panama City’s project management firm Marazul worked alongside local contractors Jose Murillo and Erika B to build Behm’s dream beach manually, using very little modern machinery. And, after roughly nine months of painstaking work, the singular overwater structure is finally complete.

Named after the Indonesian word for butterfly, the new Kupu-Kupu Beach is approximately 90 feet long by 20 feet wide and has a silhouette similar to the aforementioned winged insect. Accessible via a wooden boardwalk, it comes complete with the all-important white sand, palm trees and stylish lounge chairs. In addition, the “Tipsy Bar” will sling cocktails and light fare to beachgoers.

Unlike a regular beach, though, Behm’s creation features a series of quartz-tiled stairs on the edge that cascade down into the 9-metre-deep crystal waters. This allows guests to enter the seas gently, sort of like a swimming pool. From here, you can also partake in snorkeling, kayaking and other water activities.

Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

In addition to the beach, Bocas Bali offers 16 overwater villas.

Of course, Bocas Bali is about more than the beach. The boutique resort features 16 custom overwater villas that were shipped halfway around the world from Bali after some 1100 hours of Javanese hand carving. Similarly, the resort’s Elephant House Restaurant was also shipped from Bali and is about 100 years old. Another highlight is the Colonnade clubhouse, which includes a 21-metre freshwater pool, café, gym and spa.

To top it off, Bocas Bali is 100 per cent off-grid. All electricity is generated by solar panels, while catchment basins store fresh rainwater for all the retreat’s needs.

But Behm isn’t done yet. The hotelier told Robb Report the resort is getting a handful of breathtaking treehouses designed by Balinese designer Elora Hardy, along with a collection of world-class botanical gardens. The first treehouse will be completed on July 1.

Best start packing for Panama, folks.

Rates start at $1478 per night during peak season and $1210  per night during green season. That fee includes all meals and non-motorised water sports.

Check out more photos below:

An Overwater Villa at Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

A view from an Overwater Villa. Joshua Laabs

An Overwater Villa at Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

The Overwater Villas. Joshua Laabs

An Overwater Villa at Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

Inside one of the Overwater Villas. Joshua Laabs

An Overwater Villa at Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

Inside one of the Overwater Villas. Joshua Laabs

The Elephant House Restaurant at Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

The Elephant House Restaurant. Joshua Laabs

Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

The main pool. Joshua Laabs

Bocas Bali Resort in Panama

The main pool. Joshua Laabs


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