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Welcome to b í k u

The Panama treehouse retreat!

Inspired by friends and family, laughter and living slow – sloth style! We’re on a journey to build treehouses on a jungle island in the sun – oh, and make chocolate as well. We’d love for you to join us to help make this dream a reality. Register your interest to find out more about b í k u; join the family and be the first to get updates on our project, exclusive offers when our crowdfunding launches in spring 2018, and special prices when we start taking bookings for our treehouse holidays! 

We look forward to you being part of our journey and hopefully someday, our guests! There’s an island, a treehouse holiday and chocolate waiting for you …

About Us

Who are we?

So who are we? We’re the two halves of b í k u – one is Panamanian, from Bocas del Toro (Ariel) and the other is British (a true Welsh, Scottish and English mix – Zabrina). See our interviews in our blog posts to get to know us even better!

Ariel has lived outside of Panama since he was 17 and has been living in the UK for more than 15 years. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. Customer service is his main passion; as he notes himself, “it’s what I love and it’s what I do well”. He has worked at some of the top hotels in London including The Soho, Covent Garden (both of the Firmdale family of hotels) and ACE Hotel. And as for Zabrina, well, she’s always been a little unconventional – she’s a nature and culture lover with a passion for Latin America.

For both of us, now the timing is right to head to Panama and create something amazing, create something that will benefit the local community and environment – things that we love and care about deeply. Our dream, really, is chocolate in the treetops, on a tropical island. It’s pretty exciting!

We are crowdfunding in spring 2018 to raise the capital for the build – and as part of the crowdfund all you lovely people will be able to get great offers and perks! Register your interest to stay updated.

Plant types
Tropical rainforest
indigenous groups
types of tropical trees

What's The Story

Protect, Preserve and Share

We have always been driven by a desire to own our own business. For Ariel, to do this in his home country would be a real dream come true. Since he left Bocas, there have been significant changes – some for the better and some for the worse.

A large amount of investment has flooded in to Bocas in the past 20 years or so, and with that, a tourism boom. “I’m proud that so many people want to visit the beautiful islands where I come from – but I also hope that we are able to protect, preserve and share the colourful community, culture and nature I grew up with – including the sloths.”

Fishing - net throwing

Unfortunately some of the investment and subsequent businesses have not had these considerations at their core – and there is a real danger that in the pursuit of success, irreparable damage is being done to the local environment.

For the Bocas community in particular, we want to demonstrate that the land can be used in a sustainable and innovative way – that protects, preserves and shares what our small part of the world has been gifted with. The key is education and creating opportunity for sustainable income.

At b í k u, we hold these values at our core. We will reinvest money in to the community – to address environmental, educational and social issues.

Why Panama?


When I think about Panama I think about colour, life, nature and laughter. It’s a place full of warmth, it’s tropical, it’s vibrant, it’s green – and it’s a little crazy! In the best way possible.

Panama is a fascinating and unique country, and still relatively undiscovered. In many ways, Panama is a country of contrasts. It’s the perfect destination for whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s adventure, history and culture or pure relaxation and nature at its most beautiful.

For me, it truly is a treasure – and for many – an undiscovered one.

Don’t just take my word for it, Lonely Planet describes Panama as ‘a humming metropolis’, ‘a road trip adventure’; a land of ‘sun kissed panoramas’

Where is Panama? … Panama is that tiny, thin wiggle of land that connects North, Central and South America. It borders both the Caribbean Sea and the North Pacific Ocean and sits between Colombia (to the East) and Costa Rica (to the West).

Panama is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. It has a population of just over 3.6 million.

Panama has a tropical climate and boasts 2,490 km of coastline. Its dry season runs from December through to May and the green season from June to November.

Panama has over 1500 types of tropical trees. Deforestation of tropical rainforest and mining of natural resources are both threats to Panama’s environment.

Latest blog Posts

The Blog

The eco challenge

The eco challenge

Now that Ariel is based in Bocas del Toro (for those of you not yet in the know, check out the map, here) there is a lot of research to be done! This research is vital to us being able to offer the best service and most comprehensive knowledge about Bocas to our guests once…

Bocas delights

Bocas delights

‘Wapping’ (what’s happening), like they say here in Bocas!!! I am now residing full time in Bocas del Toro and I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. I like being in Panama City but I love, love being in Bocas. It is where I grew up and it is where everybody knows…

Interview with LAND Chocolate: Raising the chocolate bar – Part II

Interview with LAND Chocolate: Raising the chocolate bar – Part II

In the second part of our interview with Phil Landers – the man behind LAND Chocolate – we speak about some of the changes happening in the chocolate industry, working directly with cacao farmers and where the industry is heading. “I’m trying to do all the little things slightly differently and in my style so…

Raising the chocolate bar – Part I

Raising the chocolate bar – Part I

With Paul A Young and the Mast Brothers as ‘mentors’ it’s no surprise that Phil Landers is making a name for himself in the chocolate world with his LAND chocolate. Ariel speaks to the Bethnal Green (London)-based chocolate maker about a new kind of chocolate maker and how he’s not trying to be a trouble…

Back in the City…but not for long

Back in the City…but not for long

Hola mi gente, So 2018 is well and truly here and our bíku journey continues. This is the year of big things. So, as some of you may know, I went back to London over Christmas and New Year – and all that jazz. I must stay that going back to the UK was a…

Speaking with the Tropical Chocolate Café in Panama City

Speaking with the Tropical Chocolate Café in Panama City

“We are tree to bar producers; it’s more than bean to bar!” We speak to Carolina Buglione – the general manager of Tropical Chocolate Café, about tree to bar chocolate, 100% authentic Panamanian chocolate from Bocas del Toro. Can you tell me a little bit about Tropical Chocolate Café? We are located in Casco Antiguo,…

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