Central + South America Cala Mia Cala Mia is a boutique luxury eco island hotel in Chiriquí, Panama. Located on Isla Boca Brava, one of the largest Islands in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Cala Mia is perched on the tip of the island’s east coast. Rustic Cala Mia has a small number of bungalows created by their Italian-Dutch owners who, having lived in Costa Rica for years, deemed it too developed for their taste and re-located to this secluded hideaway; we agree that this is Costa Rica as it used to be. While parts of Panama’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts are starting to become crowded by resorts, this sliver of coastline remains sparsely populated and untouched. Highlights For us the best highlight of them all has to be the distance of the suites to the sea. None of the 11 bungalows are further than 10m from the sea If star gazing is your thing the lodge has its very own telescope, which is perfect in an area as unpopulated as Isla Boca Brava as there is no light pollution to disrupt the view We haven’t been to many beaches as quiet and private as this. The setting is completed with the white soft sand, surrounded by tropical forests filled with exotic wildlife Their rustic spa is perched on top of a rocky outcrop which you reach by a hanging bridge; it really doesn’t get more picturesque than this The wildlife here is in abundance and you may be lucky enough to see howler monkeys, anteaters, turtles, dolphins, whales and the multitude of colourful bird life. For those who enjoy surfing and scuba diving there is world renowned sport fishing grounds to which we can organise fantastic day trips SERENE UNTOUCHED BEAUTY Cala Mia’s quirky open-sided restaurant has wonderful sweeping views from its observation tower and serves Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. The freshwater pool sits just next to the restaurant, all of which are flanked by tropical mangroves and dense forest. The owners are keen to give back and as a result a percentage of the room rates goes to support programmes for indigenous peoples. Much of the waste is recycled or composted for farm use and the hotel has no electricity, running entirely on solar power. The only downside for some people is that there are no fans or air conditioning units in the rooms, but in our opinion this adds to the authenticity of the hotel. When one speaks of barefoot luxury, you can’t help but think of Cala Mia.