Upon arriving at the Marina Village on Isla Bastimentos, guests will then pass through a uniqueNature Preserve before arriving at the Red Frog Beach Island Resort. You will experience a unique island eco-system; traveling over the unpaved dirt roads, the sounds of nature abound-exotic birds hide in the tree tops and the occasional sloth reminds guests that this is a place to “take your time” and absorb the surroundings.
The Nature Preserve, adjacent to the resort, showcases that environment that makes Red Frog Beach different from other island beach destinations.
The reforestation on Isla Bastimentos has helped the red frogs and other plant and animal life to thrive with better environmental conditions.
When the Bocas del Toro archipelago separated from the mainlandabout 8,000 years ago, a distinctive, lush ecosystem was born, destined to become the “Galapagos of the Caribbean.”
With a world-wide phenomenon in our namesake, Red Frogs (and their color variations), to extensive coral reefs and mangroves, we were clearly not the first to be charmed by the brilliant surroundings. Panama dedicated over 13,000 hectares of land and water on and around Isla Bastimentos as the country’s first National Marine Park. The boundaries protect over 1/3 of our island plus much of the water around us for irreplaceable coral reefs, endangered sea turtles, exotic animals, reptiles and colorful birds.
The Isla Bastimentos region’s biodiversity attracts professional photographers, Smithsonian researchers, birders, biologists and other nature enthusiasts from around the world.
Ten years ago Isla Bastimentos had suffered a large amount of deforestation caused by cattle grazing. Since that time, environmental controls were put in place that removed the cattle and corrected erosion problems. Oceans Group International is pleased to report that a vast amount of reforestation has occurred to return much of the island to its natural state. These environmental protections have helped the wildlife to replenish and guests to enjoy the natural scenery. Valuing our position at the border of the Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park, we pledged early on to protect the organic land and native culture. More than 60% of Red Frog Beach Resort property is a dedicated Nature Preserve. This is only part of our plan to support the ancient environment and community. It is to honor and respect the biodiversity as well as the local cultures that rely on it.
Uncover stunning beaches and bright blue morphobutterflies. Witness the monkeys swing from treetop to treetop and the abundant flora and fauna that has been blooming here for centuries. Find yourself at a hidden waterfall, a lagoon with turquoise water or a rainforest trail leading to a pristine natural world.
It’s about opening our minds to inspiring surroundings, and discovering a life-changing vacation.
We meticulously planned and structured the Red Frog Villas to be a modern launching point for visitors to an ancient Caribbean haven.
At Red Frog Beach Resort, you’ll find sophisticated accommodations with Caribbean hospitality amidst centuries-old charm in a setting that nature itself designed.
Environmental History on Isla Bastimentos
In 2004, the Red Frog Beach Island Resort was acquired by a small group of individuals who purchased the land bordering Red Frog Beach, Turtle Beach, North Beach and Cayman Coves Beach on Isla Bastimentos. Most of the land was sold by a Panamanian family who for 18 years had taken care of the land and improved it with tree plantations, bridges and pathways. However, the cattle grazing on the land caused deforestation on a large section of the island that was leading to erosion problems. It was on this deforested section of land that the Red Frog Beach Resort would build individual homes, and by removing the cattle, allow the natural island vegetation to grow back.
The global economic recession in 2008 brought the Red Frog Beach project to a halt like many other projects around the world. Then, in 2009, a group called Oceans Group International restarted the island project. Upon the recommencement of construction, the group modified the existing plans and implemented designs with a focus on preserving and enhancing the environment. Oceans Group International allocated almost 70% of the island property as a nature preserve and created amenities at the resort that showcased the unique environment. The natural spa and the zipline for instance were two examples of amenities that have a very low impact on the environment and help guests experience a remarkable island eco-system.
Because of the environmental focus, there are now MORE trees and vegetation on Isla Bastimentos than 10 years ago (because the cattle grazing has been removed). The erosion problems caused by the grazing have largely all been corrected on Isla Bastimentos.
Red Frog Beach has also installed a state of the art waste treatment plant called a sequence batch reactor. All of the sanitary waste from the project is centrally processed with 5 levels of treatment. This system sets a high standard for other independent resorts throughout the Caribbean and Central America.
The resort now includes the successful operation of one of the largest solar power plants of any island resort in the world. See more information here: http://www.greenlodgingnews.com/red-frog-beach-island-resort-adds-193kw-solar-power
Red Frog now is proud to be the largest employer in the region and has implemented plans to keep the island looking beautiful and safe with such things as cleaning the public beaches and providing lifeguarding services at selected locations. Red Frog Beach works with other local business to make tourism here more sustainable and to provide more opportunities for the local workforce.
Environmental Plan Highlights
The new leadership group that took over the island project in 2009 have significantly improved the development plans to be more ecologically sensitive.
Plan Highlights include:
Decreasing the footprint of the development by 80%.
A Heightened Focus on Natural Amenities:
A Heightened Focus on Natural Amenities:
- Hiking trails
- Local tours to farms and gardens
- Canopy tour with zip lines
- Natural spa
New architecture will align with local styles and materials
- Amenity buildings have thatched and hardwood materials
- More teak and hardwoods for homes
- Natural and Caribbean colors
- Bocas style roofing with open-air designs
- Jungle style lodges
- New designs include isoline insulation which has a greater R-Value and will greatly improve energy efficiency
- Embracing a new approach to a more pervious road construction
- Panelized construction to limit waste off the island and reduce energy needs and improve overall efficiency
- Selection of re-cycled materials wherever possible
- Utilization of renewable bamboo from site, embracing a materials conservation ethic whenever possible
Natural Amenities and National Park
The Greatest Natural Amenity – the Unique Ecology of Bastimentos Island.
The location of our project affords a unique opportunity for our residents and visitors to explore the natural treasures of Bastimentos Island. Our project’s preserves combined with the adjacent Bastimentos National Marine Park, maintain some of the greatest diversity of plant and animal life that can be found anywhere on earth. This marine park and a large portion of the Amistad/Bocas del Toro region, has been recognized as both a Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site. The marine park is contiguous to the project site, covers an area of 13,226 ha (32,682 acres) and was primarily established to protect the abundant coral reefs in the region, but protects a swath of the island’s interior as well.
The Smithsonian Institute and Marine Park
In biological terms, the fact that Panama linked the landmasses of the two Americas helps explain its incredible biodiversity. The Bocas del Toro region has often been called the “Galapagos of Central America.” Since the area has been isolated for 10,000 years by geologic activity, each of the islands has evolved its own unique ecosystem. It is no accident that the nearby Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) chose this as one of two sites in Panama to house its research and teaching facility. There are currently over 20 full-time research scientists cataloging this diversity. To date Over 6300 species of plant and animals have been described and photographed in this database: www.biogcodb.stri.si.edu/bocas-database/
This institute provides a tremendous resource for visiting scholars and the general public as weekly tours, lectures and other field programs are readily featured. The Director of the institute has placed conservation of marine and terrestrial ecosystems in Bocas high on its priority list: “It is critical that homeowners, divers, retirees, investors, sports fishermen, tourists—all of the different interests in Bocas del Toro—realize that they depend upon and benefit from the sustainable management of natural beauty and biodiversity.”
Our goal is to preserve 80% of our lands in perpetuity. We plan on achieving this by a combination of initiatives including working with the government of Panama to add to the size of the Bastimentos Marine Park, and working with the local and international NGO’s for land bank donations. We hope to not only facilitate scientific research in the area but also develop revenue-producing programs for the conservation agencies and educational programs, which we will happily collaborate with.
The Marine Park and surrounding project lands provide a springboard for activities and adventures that invite us to learn more about this ecology. Nature walks or more extensive jungle hikes are a great way to get in touch and learn about the indigenous red frog, giant morpho butterflies, wild orchids or the myriad of other species in the region. Activities such as sea kayaking, and docent led canopy tours are other great ways to learn about the islands flora and fauna.
Resources for those interested in the regions ecology can visit both Smithsonian International and The Nature Conservancy’s description of the area:
http://www.nature.org/wherewework/centralamerica/panama/work/art8692.html and http://www.stri.org/english/visit_us/bocas/
Exploring – what you see
Those who wish to explore the area’s preserves and the neighboring Marine Park will be stunned by the diverse topography that they have to choose from. Both Red Frog Beach and the more remote Wizard Beach and Playa Larga beaches offer sweeping vistas and a healthy beach break. There are several quiet cove beaches that provide a more intimate setting as well. These beaches and the expansive coral reef, provide important habitat for leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green turtles. The leeward side of the island features smooth, glasslike waters that harbor our marina and are ideal for exploring the delicate ecology of the ocean mangroves. The terrain on the island is diverse as well, and features secondary and primary rainforest stands on hills and small mountains based on ancient basalt rock formations.
Most of the Red Frog Beach development took place on re-claimed ranch land and teak plantations. These areas include gentle upslope and meadows that have reverted to their more natural state. The marine park also features the largest island lake in all of Panama. A journey to this lake would also afford the opportunity to explore a large network of caves that exist within our preserves. We feel that our project’s “Natural Amenities” are the most compelling feature of this development.
Regional Climate. Bocas del Toro lies degrees above the equator in the wet tropical zone (Holdridge Life Zone scheme).
Environmental Mitigation Results
A team of over 25 and over $500,000 invested into environmental mitigation plan working on various projects such as: installing hundreds of silt fences, miles of erosion control mesh, dozens of sediment traps and basins and hundreds of new trees.
All electric was installed underground to protect the native landscape, most of the development is located in what was existing cow pasture lands preserving native fauna and flora. The electric generation plant meets strict U.S. requirements. Beachfront setbacks have been extended to protect sensitive areas. We have invested in low energy cost design including low-E windows, and large overhangs. The sewage plant is the best of its kind for minimizing harmful affluent. This investment and stewardship is unparalleled by any project in Panama. The Mitigation team at Red Frog Beach have brought results to Isla Bastimentos beyond the requirements set forth by the Panamanian environmental ministry.
Signs to protect frogs all over Phase 1, more than ANAM required
Sediment traps protected and maintained by our full time mitigation crew
Silt fences installed around construction sites
Over 1950 linear meters of silt fence installed to date
Erosion control fencing installed on all creeks, 5X more than environmental mitigation plan requires
These multiple sediment-cleaning fences ensure clean run-off and limit any erosion
Allowed natural growth to reclaim the areas once defforested from cattle grazing. A responsible development model has allowed this to occur
Native materials used in amenity areas
Large eaves for shade, low-E glass installed on all windows to save energy
Low Impact marina construction – no pilings
Large investment in underground utilities to maintain natural landscape vs. overhead power like Bocas Below
Native bamboo that will be used as a sustainable material in amenities
Red Frog Beach installed state of the art Sequene Batch Reactor (SBR) sewage treatment plant – after 4 levels of treatment, output is less than 15 PPM B05 affluent. The plant is completely self sustained and controlled in the service area
All Villas installed with energy efficient bulbs
Clear water run off chanels to reduce erosion
Community Outreach Plan
Oceans Group International has a strong desire to showcase natural amenities and a commitment to a sustained and consistent approach to community relations/outreach. Outreach programs to the following groups are ongoing:
Bahia Honda community – Red Frog Beach is involved in a number of projects that have benefitted this local community. As one of the largest employers in the region, Red Frog work alongside this community.
Local Business Owners -We can recommend and support an eco-system of local businesses that help to enhance the client experience by offering services of other restaurants, dive shop operators and tour companies.
Local & Regional Government – Red Frog Beach strives to understand the needs and concerns of the local community and civic leaders. Working together, we embrace win/win solutions to problems and concerns. We believe that a responsible and prosperous business provide jobs and economic vitality to the community.
The Red Frog Foundation
History of the Foundation:
The Red Frog Foundation was formed in 2004 to create a bridge between the developer and the local community. Its goals were to help the environment, local hospital, schools, senior home, and the wellness of the local communities of Bastimentos village and Bahia Honda. It has delivered more results than any other charitable group to date in Bocas.
In 2008 the Foundation laid dormant and has recently revived and is engaged in several projects in the local community.
Results of the Foundation:
Water Project Bastimentos
The foundation with the support of Red Frog Beach seeded the water and sewage system installation in the village of Bastimentos. High frequency of illnesses and lack of water (gathered by hospital data and Bastimentos leaders) prioritized this project.
Timeline of Project
- November 2005 -Foundation does study of Current Water System, administration, and Census of Population
- January 2006 – received commitment of Red Frog Beach to finance project. Began search for designers and participation of community.
- April 2006 began the topography and water study with the help of Red Frog engineers.
- June 2006 Topography and land survey completed
- August 2006 Formal Water/Sewage Design begins with Tomas Chue, former director IDDAN
- February 2007 Water Design is completed
- March 2007 Programa de Desarrollo Sostenible De Bocas Del Toro begins revision of plans.
- April 2007 Programa de Desarrollo sends official letter to IDDAN for approval of project.
Environmental Cleanup Programs in Bastimentos
The foundation created an “Adopt an Area” program of Bastimentos in which children received uniforms, travel and other incentives for caring for their community. Children have participated in teaching other children about the importance of the environment.
- Created sports events and parades to promote clean up.
- Coordinated leadership and educational seminars around environmental cleanliness in school, involving the hospital and department of sanitation.
- Provided education in general community on recycling and alternatives to not burning trash.
- Sponsored other Earth Day cleanup programs, including Project Aware and Panama 980.
- Donated many supplies to local municipality of Bastimentos including such things as new boat engine for trash disposal and city maintenance equipment.
The Foundation identified Bahaia Honda as a community in need of basic infrastructure and educational support. They did not have a clinic, adequate school space, or any form of waste disposal system.
- Helped local community complete a needs assessment of area.
- Helped identify leaders, culture, and invited outside leaders- brought mayor, governor, and others to coordinate solutions for Bahia Honda
- Foundation coordinated the transportation of the children to high school in Bocas. Red Frog donated the transportation for 1.5 years.
- April 2006- Foundation commits to the design of school, extra classroom, pier, and water system. Preliminary designs and permission from civil engineers attained.
- Nov 2006- A school design is completed with the help of the indigenous community.
The foundation helped hospital do an assessment of needed medical supplies. Needs were identified and a program of sustainable donations was created.
- Donated $183,000 in medical supplies.
- Provided other supplies including computers and other materials needed by hospital.
- Provided a volunteer medical student to hospital to help with emergency calls.
The foundation has worked with the director of Bastimentos School in the coordination of supplies and in the creation of different pilot school programs.
- Donated over $6500 in computers and supplies to students in Bocas and Bastimentos.
- Coordinated boat transportation for children during special cultural events.
- Partnered with students in Bocas to create pilot projects in career possibilities.
- Provided volunteers to teach English/French in Bastimentos.
- Volunteer architects designed a school in the indigenous village of Bahia Honda.
- College students from the states in Engineering/Architecture volunteered in designs of Foundation’s projects.
- Red Frog Beach architects and engineers donated valuable time in the design of schools and water system.