…also known as “red poison-dart frog” or “strawberry poison-dart frog”.
…scientifically classified as “Oophaga pumilio”, Species “O. pumilio”, of which there are 4 morphs/colors including one limited to Isla Bastimentos, Panama with black dots on back and legs.
…listed as a threatened or endangered species though the local barefoot Indian children catch them in styrofoam cups and then attempt charging 25 cents to touristas for a “peek”. (we know how those frogs will end…)…toxic from their diet of ‘formicine’ ants but harmless if not fed ants; thus becoming a rather popular exotic pet
Perhaps 10 years ago a group of investors bought a large tract of land on Isla Bastimentos in Panama, bordered to the east by Bastimentos National Park and the town of Bastimentos to the west, abutting the expansive beautiful Red Frog Beach… a national beach. This group, “Red Frog Beach Club”, had a multi-phase development plan for 50plus $500,000 ( and up) villas… restaurants…marina…spas and countless beach activities.
Phase I was partially completed with the infrastructure of gravel roads, sewage, water, electric and maybe 25 villas under construction. Then crash! The recession ...labor strikes by the local low-waged Indian workers, and bankruptcy was declared.
A small group of the initial wealthy investors bought what remained of the ‘Red Frog Beach Club’, bringing it out of bankruptcy; then completing their own private villas
then opening a bare bones marina and starting a hostel for surfing enthusiasts. Peoples from around the world will come to the Bocas del Toro region to bake and surf..
So where are we today?
With the economy slightly improved, there is some villa construction but still of the originals, 50% remain as piles of rebar, dreams, or in receivership. Everything remains touch and go…certainly no new construction. And in the background is the $1500/month condominium fee for water, power, grounds maintenance, cleaning etc.
The marina is clean and basic, with need of more restrooms and showers but it is the one true money-maker…in fact, 30 new slips have just been added using materials from the original purchase plan; but without power or water and thus inexpensive. Now the largest marina in Bocas del Toro region but still the least costly.
The Kayukos is an open restaurant and bar; fixed menu, mostly used by employees and the few backpackers staying in the $15/night hostel. One can rent beautiful villas for $145/day or $1000/week…each with private spa, swimming pool, and golf cart to get around.
The thrilling “Canopy Tour” with Ziplines 150 feet up in the rain forest above the jungle floor might just break even considering personnel and labor. Their motif: “Fly the Sky”. $55/person.
Just now the Punta Lava Beach Bar and Grill has opened at Red Frog Beach…good Cheeseburgers in Paradise and cold cold Panama cervesa.
And then Bocas town now unloads daily water taxis lined with sun worshipers to walk or ride the half mile across the island from mangrove side to Red Frog Beach side seeking surf, sand, and beach bar…each charged an extra $2 on top of the water taxi. Listening quietly you might hear any of 8 different languages. Still, it is a little more income.
We all hope the Red Frog Beach Club survives. It is a beautiful tropical spot…but I’d hold off on that 100K deposit…
Each red poison-dart frog averages 18 mm in length...that's less than inch.