Islas Secas Reserve & Lodge is one destination in the Collection that many of the JG Black Book team members have had the pleasure of visiting! Throughout the various site inspections, FAM trips and press trips that we’ve hosted, the JG team has always come back with the same response: the 14 timeless islands, marine safaris and warm, luxurious hospitality truly awaken a spirit of adventure. Read on to see the best memories – from excursions and rum tastings to property features and dining – that the JG team carries with them from Islas Secas.
Cathy Courtney says: “Islas Secas really is a world away. It truly does feel like you have this serene paradise to yourself. What a peaceful, restorative and incredibly rare feeling that is!
I loved my fishing experience with Carter Andrews. His passion for fishing is contagious. I hadn’t fished since I was little kid, and he was so patient and helpful in showing me what to do. He had me and the rest of the group laughing at ourselves and even getting a bit competitive. And with his help, we were all able to catch a fish. They were so beautiful to see up close before we cut them loose to return to the beautiful waters!
I also loved all of the wildlife to be seen. There is the extraordinary marine life of course – we saw turtles, fish, even sharks. But even on the islands there is so much to observe. Iguanas, crabs, so many birds. It really does feel like you’ve escaped to paradise.”
Alexandra Avila says: “The outdoor showers were a big hit for me. Islas Secas does a wonderful job of keeping the island unspoiled and connected with nature. The showers take it to that next level, au naturale.
Boats have always been synonymous with adventure for me. Whether big or small, growing up as a child and getting on a boat, kayak or canoe meant exploring. It was great to have access to the boats every day. I instantly turned into that kid again trying to spot whales or flying stingray and exploring the land for the next hidden gem – only this time I had 14 islands to discover.
My favorite moment was sitting at the Terraza enjoying a cold beer after a day on the boats. From there you have a view of the bay and a few of the other islands. In that moment, with no one around, the reality of where I was hit me. As I sunk lower and lower into my Adirondack chair with a cold beer, so remote and removed from the rest of the world, the weight of the day-to-day eased away.”
Andy Martell says: “I really enjoyed our evenings spent at The Terraza. We’d have a drink in The Salon and then a leisurely dinner underneath the incredible canopied roof of the main dining area. It’s an epic looking structure that still feels totally natural and is the perfect setting in which to talk and laugh the night away.
We spent an afternoon swimming and relaxing at Pargo Beach. After our boat captain dropped us off, we were free to roam the white sand beach at our own pace. It was a real highlight.
And my favorite moment was waking up early, sliding the doors to my casita open, and taking in the 360 degree views of the early morning colors to the sounds of the birds.”
David Corke says: “One afternoon, I decided to head out on my own paddle board adventure. My surroundings were so tranquil as I navigated around the edges of the island, and the water was so clear that I could see all of the marine life swimming beneath me. It was an extremely peaceful moment for me – I truly felt like I had a piece of paradise all to myself.”
Natacha Tonnisso says: “I love that the casitas are inspired by the original Panama Canal House and that once inside, you’re transported to an era of colonial exploration and adventure through the vintage maps, the classic wooden carpentry and the elegant, neutral tones of the furnishings. I also can’t forget the outdoor shower. Overlooking the islets of the archipelago, I suddenly felt miles away and totally disconnected.
One of my favorite moments was enjoying a therapeutic massage on my casita’s private deck with just the sound of the gentle waves in the background and the warm breeze of salty, fresh sea air. The other was scuba diving. I couldn’t believe how rich and colorful the marine life was and how visible the fish were through the crystal clear waters close to shore.”
Ellie Kay says: “The property features that stood out the most were the interiors of the casitas, the private plunge pools and the decks overlooking the ocean, surrounded by lush vegetation. One of my favorite things to do was sit in the chaise lounge outside of my casita after a long day on the boat and take in the spectacular view and lush nature – it made me feel at peace.
My favorite activity was snorkeling around the islands and looking at all the incredible fish, sharks and other sea creatures. A highlight was spending an afternoon on one of the private islands – Pargo Beach – and having the entire place to ourselves to discover. It was as if no one had ever touched the island before us. We were truly alone surrounded by nothing but expansive ocean.
On our last night, we enjoyed an unbelievable meal overlooking the bay at Casita Grande. Chef Katie prepared different types of fresh ceviche with mango, as well as grilled tuna, snapper and steak with assorted veggies. We ended with a homemade chocolate cake which was everyone’s favorite dessert of the week. The sunset cruise with champagne and sushi appetizers was another one of my favorite foodie moments. I’ll never forget being in the middle of the ocean without another person or boat for miles and only being able to hear the gentle ocean that surrounded us.”
Cataline Lloyd says: “What I loved most about Islas Secas was the true feeling of outdoor living. You have the option to leave the shuttered walls open, allowing the gentle sounds of the waves and birds singing to fill your room. It made me feel like I was a part of the island.
Snorkeling with the white tip sharks and turtles was a highlight for me. Being able to get so close to these incredible creatures was a true honor and brought home the conservation efforts that are being made by Islas Secas to reduce their use of plastic until they are completely free of the material. And having wild dolphins swim alongside our boat didn’t hurt either!
Katie, the fabulous chef, walked us through a rum tasting on our first evening. Despite none of us being big rum drinkers, she highlighted the flavors and processes that the drinks had been taken through and really brought them to life. Her knowledge and passion were more intoxicating than the alcohol itself, and I think she made a few new rum fans out of us that evening!”