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Pukalani Hostel

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Hostelz.com's Review
Pukalani Hostel is a small, social hostel in Bocas del Toro. It is not located in the town proper, which is great if you're looking for a quieter place, but inconvenient if you need to go into town more than once a day.

The Location

Pukalani is located a few kilometres from Bocas town and is accessible by taxi, bicycle, or on foot. It is a five-kilometer walk one way, but it very feasible. A better option would be to rent a bike in town for the duration of your stay. Be aware, though, that the bikes don't have lights and the road gets pretty dark at night. Another option is taking a taxi, and it is not expensive, however, it starts adding up if you need to go to town several times a day.

The hostel has a great seaside view from the common area, and some of the private rooms' balconies face that way as well.

Rooms and Bathrooms

The dorm rooms have basic metal bunk beds, and the mattresses are comfortable enough. The sheets are clean but the rest of the room and the bathroom are not kept very clean. This obviously depends on the guests as well, and we were not lucky in that respect. There are handmade wood lockers in the rooms, which seem relatively sturdy. The bathrooms have a toilet, sink, and shower each; these were unfortunately only superficially cleaned for the duration of our stay. The shower drain seems to be perpetually clogged with hair, so if you take a shower longer than two minutes, you end up standing in a pool of soapy water.

The air-conditioner is loud and the fan even louder. We have found it nearly impossible to sleep with the fan on, as it feels like there is a small Cessna plane in the room. We have slept in other hostels in Panama, and many others in the world, and we've never had a problem with a fan before.

Common Spaces

There is a nice, inviting common area with a few tables that has a bar that also serves food. The food menu is not very varied, however, the cook is accommodating and can make things that are not listed as well. There is also a pool, which is kept clean, and guests use it frequently. This is a social hostel, but not a loud one. It is easy to meet people, but you can also do your own thing if you wish to.

Summary

Pukalani is nicely located in a more secluded area of Bocas. It can be inconvenient at times,depending on what you do in Bocas and how often you have to be in town. It is a social hostel, but not an overly loud one, and if you can ignore a possibly dirty room and bathroom, we would recommend staying there.

by Monica
Hostelz.com Staff Reviewer
January 2014
Map
Location/Contact
How is Pukalani Hostel rated on other websites?
 OverallCleanlinessStaffLocationAtmosphereSecurity
Hostelworld  
84%
84%
77%
79%
79%
93%
Hostels.com  
74%
86%
66%
66%
60%
86%
HostelBookers  
Not listed on HostelBookers.
HostelsClub  
Not listed on HostelsClub.
Average  
79%
85%
72%
73%
70%
90%
Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
5   Excellent Staff, Very Clean, Pool, Wifi, Free Shuttles, Cheap Rooms! I was in town for the Feria del Mar, a lot of the nice hostels in town were booked, I was recommended to go to Pukalani, it was only $15 a night for a bunk in a room. (They also have a number of private rooms) They picked me up downtown Bocas at noon for free quick shuttle ride to their beachfront hostel. I couldn't believe how nice everyone was. The young couple that own it, Juan and Maifi speak good English and were able to tell me where the good parties were at and what to look out for. I was able to walk 5 minutes to a world famous Surf break, with amazing barrels. Juan makes surf boards, does tattoos, and DJs for their monthly Full Moon Party. They have a beautiful, clean, swimming pool, hammocks, a pool table out on a hut over the water. I couldn't expect more. Especially for $15 a night! Pukalani is only 1 year old and it shows in the cleanliness of the place. I only planned on staying for a night but ended up stay for 3 days, but had to leave back home too soon. When I come back to Bocas I plan on staying here again, and do not hesitate recommending it to my friends. If you are looking for something outside of the craziness of Bocas Town, or somewhere romantic for couples this is the best place on the island to get away. Its about a 20 minute walk to town, but they also rent bikes for $5 a day to make the trip easy. All in all this was the perfect hidden gem, I recommend checking it out!  , USA ()
2   You're better off staying somewhere else. First, the good: clean dorms, price, air conditioned at night, all rooms open towards the bay, free shuttle to town three times a day, swimming pool, bar/restaurant (when open), small kitchen, lots of cool places to hang out at the hostel. The negative: no lockers (only "secure" spot is in a closet in the office); really far away from the main part of town ($2 taxi ride per person per way; this really does add up); shuttles are at really inconvenient times (7am, 12pm, 7pm; if you take the 7am one, nothing in town is open. If you wait for the 12pm one, all tours and activities will already have departed for the day. 7pm makes it hard to get dinner, impossible to enjoy nightlife); staff were unable to give us any information ... about anything (normally hostel staff are very familiar with the area and can give good recommendations about where to go, what to do); if the restaurant isn't open (it wasn't for the duration of our stay, although that may have been an anomaly), you will have to go into the center of town to eat as there is not even a grocery store or ''soda''/cafeteria/convenience store within a twenty minute walk. Bottom line, similarly-priced accommodations can be had all over the island (and on the Red Frog beach island as well); you should strongly consider booking one of those. Pukalani is just too far away to be worth it (especially when as a hostel, they are not doing many of the little things right).  ()

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