Macondo hostel is a very charming place perfectly situated in the lush jungle just off the main walkway. Stayed there for a week and loved it. Very clean, quiet, big kitchen with all you need. Justina is a fantastic host and super helpful with everything. Muchas gracias!
We really enjoyed our stay here. You are right next to the jungle, but also walking distance to restaurants and the beach. Our room and shared bathrooms were very clean. Justina was so nice and helpful, as we had to cancel our second night due to an emergency so she didn't charge for the second night even tho it was non-refundable. Very delicious pancakes for breakfast! Wifi can be a bit iffy but that's the whole island. Would highly recommend staying here!
Let’s start off with saying that this hostel is one of the best hostels I came across, ever! The house, the owners, the yard, the people, the dogs, the atmosphere, the facilities, the surroundings… It’s a really more of a home away from home and Justina and Erwin do their upmost to make you feel welcome, comfortable, at home and part of the family, which is particularly nice if you’re travelling for quite a while and are looking for a few days of rest, friends, friendly people and a friendly environment.. Or if you’re just looking for a few days of holiday in Paradise. Or even if you need a calm place to work as a digital nomad, combined with some chilling, as I did. The hostel invites to be social if you want to, but you can withdraw and be on your own too if you prefer that. This hostel is basically everything you need, everything a hostel should be (old-school style!), and not just because it is the only hostel situated on this small Caribbean Isla Grande off the coast of Colon (Portobelo). It’s a shame that this destination is often overlooked and not included in your standard Panama itinerary.. Can defo recommend the Island and this hostel in particular to anyone travelling through Panama! The fact that I intended to stay for only 2 days but ended up returning twice and staying 11 in total and made new friends during my stay says it all ;) I usually don’t take the time to write reviews but given the experience I had, I really want to make an effort to describe the hostel for potential future guests. Here it goes: +The main dorm is very spacious with good beds, lots of air, nice breeze flowing through the windows, additional fans if you need to (depending on the season you might want to use these)… The smaller dorm (that also functions as a family room for larger groups) is also spacious and provided with fans. Some of the private rooms also have airco (did not sleep in any of them but I did see them and they too are really spacious with good beds). Because the hostel is tucked away a few houses from the Island’s main strip, it is very calm and you can hear all of nature’s sounds when sleeping or chilling in a hammock! +Lots of open spaces, inside and outside, including hammocks, sofas and seats to chill, a large dining table but also smaller tables. If you feel like netflixing on the sofa, they are even willing to set-up a TV for you in the living room.. +Toilet and shower facilities are really good and the entire property is super clean and taken care of EVERY DAY. +The kitchen is a nice open space with everything you may need to prepare your own meals if you feel like it (would recommend to stock up supplies at el Rey Supermarket in Sabanitas before you take the bus to La Guaira because the local supermarkets have limited supplies, as it is an island and everything is shipped in). +Breakfast is included and freshly prepared – personally and with love – by either Justina or Erwin each morning and includes good coffee and pancakes or tostadas with all your jams. I particularly liked the set-up of breakfast at the main dining table, so that guests can have breakfast together and socialise. Their portions will fill you up until late afternoon until you’re ready to eat some delicious and freshly caught seafood in one of the many family-run restaurants on the island or cook up your own dish. +For those not digitally detoxing on the Island, the hostel also has good working wifi and lots of plugs if you need to be connected… +The property is well maintained and surrounded by green, green and more green. There’s even an path crossing the house that will lead to you the other side of the island through the jungle, with some nice views.. It’s also very safe and offers lockers for your personal stuff (bring a padlock!) and the dogs (Gisele and Blanca) are really protective towards all the guests when strangers enter.. they even sometimes accompany you to the beach to make sure you don’t get lost ;) +It is absolutely not a party hostel but it can be very social if you’re open to it and looking for it. I had my fair share of spontaneous Ron Abuelo nights that ended up in dancing and making music with guests and the owners. But I also had several days of being anti-social, minding my own business, working or laying in a hammock. All is good and the hostel invites you to come as you are and do as you like! Justina and Erwin have been living on the Island for years now and the hostel is their home, which is noticeable in the way they take care of the house, the property, the guests and even the island itself. Most of the house, cabins and furniture is made by Erwin himself and all the art you find through the hostel is either made or collected by Justina which gives a very warm and personal touch to everything. It’s not necessarily an eco-hostel, but they are very mindful on the use of water (which is scarce) and recycling and stimulate their guest to do the same. They are also personally involved with different initiatives to keep the island and other islands in the region clean (such as Mamey) and to promote tourism to the island to help the local economy. Not only can they provide you with lots of tips on what to do, where to go and where to eat or get supplies on the Island, they can also arrange private tours for you to Isla Mamey (and others) and arrange transport if needed. The only ‘warnings’ I would give people considering going to Isla Grande – and these have absolutely nothing to do with the hostel!!! – is to remember that it is a Caribbean Island! So, this means: - all supplies are shipped in from the mainland and therefore sometimes limited or a bit more expensive. If you’re staying longer than 3 days you might want to do groceries prior to coming to the Island (see earlier note). - Also, Caribbean Island means mosquitos and other insects you might want to bring repellent for. -furthermore, even though the island lives of tourism, it is not build for tourism, which means that local life is what it is and continues the way it is, regardless of tourists’ needs. I am mentioning this because I’ve seen some uptight, grumpy, disappointed and privileged tourists complaining about the (lack of) local facilities and luxury. If you want your 5 star luxury getaway to paradise, book yourself into one of the many resorts in other beach destinations Panama offers elsewhere. If you are looking for a hidden gem and indulge yourself in local culture, good food, music, vibes to get a taste of the true Caribbean life style, including mosquitos and a slow pace, Isla Grande is yours! Please also be aware that over the weekends the Island gets flooded with locals from Colon and Panama. The beaches and accommodations are crowded then and every meter you’ll find a family BBQ with music (reggaeaton, salsa, vallenato, tipico, house, you name it).. I found it quite charming to see this side of the island too and experience how locals enjoy the island during their weekend breaks.. But if you’re there for rest and paradise and secluded beaches, don’t go in the weekend! Although the hostel itself is situated far enough from all the buzzing to secure a good night’s rest, the Island does have a different character to it compared to weekdays… just saying! As said in the beginning of this very lengthy review, el Macondo is one of the best (possibly even THE best) hostel I’ve ever stayed in (and I’ve stayed in hundreds already, all over the world)!!! Words are not enough to describe why so you just have to find out for yourself I’d say! …
Stayed at Macondo for three nights.The stuff was very helpful, the place is sparkling clean, very safe. There is always someone on the premises, so you can always ask for directions or any other questions you might have. Breakfast is pancakes and toast with coffee, it is a first experience for me in the hostel and I 100% recommend Macondo Hostel. I thank the staff for their help!
Nice place! Be aware that the two 'supermarkets' (more living rooms with some stuff) do not provide everything: but ask and than they will probably have it. Very relaxed. Including bedlinen, towels can be rented. Fridge is not too big. Bring musquito spread! Take a boat trip with Jesus (takes approx 2h, 10 dollars per person). Even though it was low season there were enough restaurants to eat (be on time and ask the lady of Macondo to call them so they know you are comming). You can take a bus from / to Laguira (from Sabanitas). We took an uber from Colon to Laguira (approx 55 euros). On the way back we took the (chicken)bus to Sabanitas (approx 1.5h), then crossed the road (bridge) and took the express bus to Panama City (small 1.5h).