Heaven might not be a place on Earth, but this private island hideaway definitely comes close.
Paradise is closer than you think – just 20 miles off the Pacific Coast of Panama, in fact. Islas Secas, in the Gulf of Chiriquí, is a private archipelago of 14 islands that is leading the world of luxury resorts into the modern eco-era.
The largest island, Isla Cavada, is the only island to have been developed into a tranquil and modern hotel resort, while the other 13 islands remain untouched and protected.
A commitment to the natural conservation of the area's landscape and wildlife is at the heart of Islas Secas' ethos. All of the energy consumption on the island is solar-powered and 100% of the water used by guests is captured and reclaimed for surface irrigation. The hotel operates a zero-waste policy and all guest facilities were constructed with certified sustainable wood.
The privately funded Islas Secas Foundation also supports land, water, and wildlife conservation organizations in the region, as well as local community programs.
Each casita at Islas Secas is built to feel like its own private sanctuary, embraced by the island’s lush tropical forest and providing out-of-this-world ocean views. Add in the slow lapping of water on soft powdery sand, a sky filled with birdsong, and not another soul in sight.
Our personal favorite casita is the two-bedroom Casita Sombras, where you can lounge by your own private plunge pool sipping cocktails, before heading down the private path to a sandy cove for direct access to the sea.
Getting to the island is an experience in itself; you can go from the city of David on the coast and take the one-hour boat ride to the wooden jetty on the island, or hop on the private Twin Otter plane direct from Panama City to the resort. Either way, you'll be arriving in style.
With the deep blue Pacific, and 13 private islands to explore – each with plenty of private beaches – the choice of activities feels never-ending.
→ Diving: With one of the most abundant marine ecosystems in the world, you can get up close with a huge array of marine life. There are classes and dives to suit all levels, with sub-surface mooring buoys at dive sites that provide direct access and eliminate damage to the marine environment caused by anchoring.
→ Outdoor cinema: Settle into the gardens or beach with your own private open-air cinema under the stars.
→ Whale watching: You can't visit this area of the world without making time for some whale watching. Two different populations of humpback whales visit the gulf of Chiriquí each year. There's a smaller population that visits between December and April, but July through to October is when the larger population migrates to the area from feeding areas off of South America and Antarctica.
→ Nature hikes: The hiking trails on these islands are seriously unique. There's an abundance of birdlife, along with 300-year-old trees, beautiful flowers, rare vegetation, and local iguanas to spot, not to mention the incredible sea views. The island also hosts expert naturalists that know the island and its inhabitants inside out, and Coiba National Park is just a short boat ride away.
→ Fishing: The Gulf of Chiriquí is known for its fishing opportunities, with Islas Secas offering an offshore catch and release billfish program, so you can responsibly enjoy the sport without causing ecological damage to the surrounding ecosystem.
A Senior Travel Curator at Origin, Dean spent his 20s living in Dubai. He's currently based in London but is always considering where his next home country might be. When he's not designing incredible trips, Dean can usually be found at a music festival, drinking tea like a true Brit or playing video games. He also loves bread and can scout out a bakery wherever he is in the world.