My Birthday On Isla Carenero, Bocas del Toro, Panama

My Birthday On Isla Carenero

Bocas del Toro, Panama

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Arriving by boat to our birthday destination

Last Year’s Birthday

Today I turn 51 years old and we are at Isla Carenero. Last year, turning 50 was horrible. I was trying to sell my home and things were not working. Plus, I was running out of money waiting for our house to sell and had no funds to throw a party.

I did not even know how to tell people that we had this crazy idea of going on a single parent travel adventure around the world. With no idea of what to expect, we fully relied on the shared knowledge of a group of luxury travel experts we came across on the internet while planning our family travel adventure.


It was a depressing time in some ways. Therefore, it was a bit of a lift that my sister was over from the USA with my niece, but because the heat stopped my stepmother and father from attending I was quite down about it all.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – perfect island location

Isla Carenero

However, this year I was determined to make things right. We have chosen Isla Carenero at Buccaneer Resort to celebrate my birthday. It is a fantastic beach area right off Bocas del Toro and with few tourists.

We have a lovely hut right by the beach here at Isla Carenero and as I wake the sun rises – and I am still in bed to see the sun peeking up – that in itself was perfect.

Our little hut is in front of a forest of trees, and it is a beautiful location.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – our bungalow


We’ve just spent the last few nights on Isla Bastimento and we visited Red Frog Beach which was fantastic.  Explorason is enjoying the time we have together and I’ve recovered from being ill.


Part of the ‘treat’ of staying in a resort is a hot water shower which sounds odd. But here in Central America many of the hotels, guest houses, and even resorts don’t offer hot water. In most places, the shower is cold.

Most places you stay in will have a fan, but few will have an air-conditioner, and we have that also. We found the same in Africa also later on with our travels.

And to finish it off in our upstairs cabana, we have a separate dining and sunroom which is so nice.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – the beach is right in front of our bungalow

Presents Wrapped In Leaves

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Birthday presents wrapped in palm leaves

We head down to Bibi’s Restaurant which is right over the water.

I had helped my son (without looking – which is no easy thing to do) to collect and wrap my gifts in banana leaves, plus then to tie them with bits of palm fronds.

He is SO excited – he has collected gifts along the way and hid them from me.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – I love Reeces Peanut Butter Cups so Explorason chose this for me


We move in from the sunny outside to enjoy fresh fruit juices and fruit pancakes for breakfast in the coolness of the interior. Isla Carenero is a relaxed island with a holiday feel, and the tropical food is light, with healthy drink choices.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Birthday breakfast with my little pirate as we are at Buccaneer’s

Island day on Isla Carenero

We decided today was going to be an ‘island day’ here on Isla Carenero. We will stay around and have some fun.

There are kayaks we can use, so we head off for a paddle out in the warm salty water.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Off for a kayak

We head around the Isla Carenero to explore the coastline.

There is a mix of poor local residents, a few wealthy expats, and a growing tourist area on the other side. We are glad we are where we are. We find the houses over the water of great interest.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – We paddle a long way around the island

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Exploring the local houses

Lunch at The Pickled Parrot

We head back and enjoy a lunch at the Pickled Parrot.

We have discovered deep fried cheese sticks with a tomato and carrot salsa. It is a favorite for both of us – but oh so rich!

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Lunch included trying fried cheese sticks

We both down a chocolate shake – today is not a day for calorie counting. The wind has picked up and we can barely sit on the stools without getting blown off.  My dress is getting blown between my legs and my hair is whipped behind me,

We are glad we got back when we did from our kayaking!

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – It is suddenly windy!


Afternoon Island Walk on Isla Carenero

We have a bit of a siesta – I am told by Explorason I am to relax, and I can do whatever I want. How cute is he? But being the explorer that I am, I want to wander off to discover the top part of the island.

Large trees and growth are right to the sand edge. Sadly there is a lot of trash that needs cleaning up too when we move away from the resort area.

There is a stack of driftwood and stumps in the sand and it is hard to find a place to walk.


This butterfly lands on my hand which I am told is a sign of good luck – it has a damaged wing, but it can fly well. We love the blue colors.

Sand Art

This ends up turning into an art time and world schooling. We both take it in turns to make a new drawing from the last image before the tide gets it. I notice Explorason is getting quite talented at art.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Drawing on the sand

Birthday Dinner

It is almost dinner time and my son has been to the restaurant and reserved a ‘special table’.  A big group heads over to the restaurant, so he races to make sure that it isn’t taken.

He pulls out my chair as I sit down and he is quite the little gentleman. We start the night with a ‘mocktail’ and a cocktail each.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Afternoon mocktail and cocktail – we are sunburnt!

Birthday Celebration

Later that night he sneaks off and organizes a candle on the dessert. Everyone sings me Happy Birthday in the restaurant. I feel so special.

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Happy celebrating my birthday

I am so grateful for my son. I am grateful for all the events that led me to this lovely place. For a seven-year-old, he has done extremely well, and it has made the day wonderful.

As the sun sets I think I have had just the best Birthday ever!

Isla Carenero

©Exploramum and Explorason – Perfect end to my birthday

Questions and Comments

  • Have you ever celebrated your birthday in a place away from home?
  • Where were you?
  • What did you do?
  • Tell us in the comments below.


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