• Give Back

At Casa Cayuco, we believe the most important tenant of Eco-Tourism is having a positive impact on local communities – in our case, Salt Creek (Quebrada Sal).  Salt Creek is a Ngobe Bugle indigenous village located 30 minutes by foot from Casa Cayuco.  The Ngobe indians are the largest indigenous group in Panama.  Bocas del Toro has many Ngobe villages spread throughout the islands but Salt Creek is its largest and one of its most remote.  Roughly 750 people live in Salt Creek and over 250 are students between the ages of 5 and 15 years old.  Casa Cayuco employs 13 people from Salt Creek.  Those 13 support over 100 people in the village.  Casa Cayuco and our guests have a very special relationship with the village of Salt Creek.  Just by staying with us, guests fund several service projects in the village throughout the year.

A portion of every stay at Casa Cayuco goes directly towards projects in our community.

We are proud partners with Pack for a Purpose

Our village and school are always in need of basic school and medical supplies. Click the logo for a list of needed items and if you have extra space in your luggage, supply donations are an easy way to make an immediate and important impact

Current Projects


This is our most exciting project to date.  Salt Creek is on the verge of teaching high school and issuing diplomas for the first time in their 80 year history.  This project was started by various Rotary clubs in Panama and the USA.  The bulk of materials were funded by these rotary clubs and it’s up to Casa Cayuco and our builders to finish the job.  By staying with us, you are funding material transport, welders, concrete workers and electrical for the three classrooms necessary to teach grades 10, 11 and 12.  We’re almost finished with the first classroom and hope to have them all completed by early 2018.  The Panamanian government is also playing a huge roll in this.  In recognition of the various Rotary clubs involved, the government has already started sending high school teachers.  10th and 11th grade classes are being taught right now in anticipation of the high school completion.  In Panama, a high school diploma is a ticket to a stable career and a world of opportunity.  Only 5 students have graduated high school in the history of Salt Creek.  This will instantly open the door for every child to graduate and in almost every case, be the first in their family to earn a diploma.

Want to Help?!

The ‘Give Back’ projects at Casa Cayuco are made possible by the generosity of people like you… For more information on how you can help our special little village, contact us HERE

Recent Projects

“Keep Salt Creek Clean”

In April 2017, we hosted a yoga retreat for two yoga studios from Connecticut – Rise Yoga and Bend Yoga.  They completed a very cool and important project that will have a lasting impact on the village and teach our young villagers the importance of proper trash disposal.  Our Casa Cayuco carpenters built four outdoor trash receptacles and the yogi’s painted and installed them throughout the village.  The coolest part of this project is that the school has committed to assign one grade every six months to be in charge of collecting full trash bags and doing litter sweeps through the village twice per week.  In return, Casa Cayuco will fund a class project of their choice for that 6 month period.  Casa Cayuco will also be transporting all full trash bags to the main island for proper disposal.  By staying with us, guests are funding the ongoing operation of this awesome project.

Spanish to English Dictionaries

Last year, we had a goal to raise 250 Spanish to English Visual Dictionaries – one for every student.  Casa Cayuco guests were up to the challenge and brought down 273 dictionaries in all!!  In many cases, these dictionaries are not only hard to come by, but quite heavy.  Thanks to all of you that lugged these important books down here.  The students and teachers are extremely grateful!!

School sidewalk connection

Half day project.  Raised concrete path that joined two school buildings.  The old path was dirt with an incline so when it rained (as it does in the rainforest) this path would become very slick and muddy.  Students would frequently fall – ruining their uniforms and books in the process.  Thanks to a group of students from the USA and the help from fathers and teachers in the village, slipping and sliding is no longer a concern.

Large sidewalk project

connecting the central-village sidewalk to the school and the large, community rancho.  

5 day project with 5 study abroad groups and over 50 students from all over the world.  The Panamanian government started a large sidewalk system through the village but stopped it short of the school and community center.  The teachers asked us to complete the sidewalk to the school and then to the community rancho.  The rancho is where all school assemblies and community meetings take place.  It’s also where an amazing organization called Floating Doctors does their regular clinics.  Like many walkways in the village, the walkway from the where the previous sidewalk ended all the way to the rancho was mud – and when it rained, it was like a mudslide.  When the Floating Doctors host clinics in the village, they haul in hundreds of pounds of medicines and medical equipment.  With this sidewalk finally finished, the doctors (and all the villagers) can park their boats on the community dock and now roll all of their equipment all the way (1/3 of a mile) to the rancho instead of having to carry it.  This project involved 390 – 80lb bags of sand and 65 – 90lb bags of cement.

Electricity for the school

 This was a project dreamed up and funded by our guests.  This is also the project that has really fueled our community involvement and the unique relationship Casa Cayuco and its guests has with our beloved village of Salt Creek.  The school in Salt Creek has been operating for over 25 years and has never had electricity.  This shocked most guests but one couple staying with us was so shocked that they started a crowdfunding page to raise funds.  Several of our other guests heard about this and within months, a solar system was designed, purchased and on a container from the USA.  In April, 2015 the solar panels, battery bank and charge controllers were installed.  In June of 2015 all fans, lights, computers and tablets were being electrified for daily use in each classroom.  This is a 12V solar system that is virtually maintenance free and designed to last for many years.  It was also designed to store electricity for up to a week with minimal sun.  This is a project that will and already is changing the lives of students in Salt Creek.

Boardwalk to the beach

All teachers in Panama get their teaching degree from the same university in Santiago, Panama.  From there they are sent throughout the country.  All of our teachers come from parts of Panama that have many “first world” comforts – clean water, electricity, grocery stores, air conditioning, cell service, etc.  In Salt Creek, there are virtually none of these comforts.  However, our teachers have made a commitment to live in Salt Creek for 10 months out of the year – leaving behind all of those comforts and often time their families.  Every project we do for the village is a need the teachers told us about.  They are selfless, never asking for projects that only benefit them.  However, in March of 2015 we had a large group coming down that asked if they could do a large project over 4 days.  Previously, the path from the village to the beach was a swampy mess.  The beach is the only place that people in the village can get a cellular signal.  Cell service isn’t a big deal for most of the village but this is the only way our teachers can communicate with their families.  The beach is also how any villager with a job gets to work.  There are about 45 jobs along the beach – 13 of those are Casa Cayuco employees.  Before the boardwalk was finished, it took our employees 35 mins to walk to work and in most cases they had to bring a change of clothes with them as the old path was pure swamp. Now, anyone who walks to work from the village takes 10 to 15 minutes less and is walking on a raised, dry and clean boardwalk all the way to the beach.  This project took 4 days with 20 students and another 20 villagers helping.  About 4,000 board feet of wood, 600 yards of logs and 4,000 nails were needed to complete the boardwalk.

Water tanks

Casa Cayuco guests have installed many water tanks.  We’ve had student groups, yoga groups and large families spend time on their vacations installing water tanks at the school.  Thanks to our guests, the school has plenty of clean water for the teachers and all of the students throughout the school year.  In most cases, this is the only clean water kids drink during the day.

New Cafeteria

This project is still in it’s finishing stages.  Casa Cayuco hosted several large groups in June and July of 2015.  Each of these groups worked towards completing a large new cafeteria for our school.  This was a HUGE project that involved lots of lumber, zinc roofing, painting and demo of an old structure.  The school provides meals for the students every day and has never had a suitable, sanitary place for the kids to eat and clean up.  This project also includes a small office/library for the school.

“This place is not only a paradise for couples and families to enjoy nature and get away from their busy lives; it’s a wonderful spot for groups of any kind to convene to learn, laugh, and give back. I 100% believe that there isn’t any other eco lodge that will give quite a unique, pleasurable and fulling experience!”… Read More

Mary D
Mary DUniversity of Wisconsin

“I work with a school in the US and found Casa Cayuco as a destination for a service trip. My goals were to give our students an international cultural experience, and more importantly to instill a sense of the value of serving your community. This trip more than met those goals and left my students exhilarated and looking for other opportunities to help those around them. Creating that type of passion in high school age kids is no small feat”… Read More!

David H
David HWasatch Academy, Utah

“I stayed here with a small college group that studied primate behavior and conservation in
Central America…The food was especially gourmet in such a remote setting, served in an open family style beach lodge. The attention to detail, friendly environment and wonderful staff made our trip feel relaxed and worthwhile. We couldn’t have been happier with our stay here”…read more!

Lee N
Lee NBroadreach Primate Studies

“We spent three days working on a service project with the Ngobe village. It was wonderful working side by side with them and truly getting a feel for their culture. Our day excursions were amazing, seeing dolphins jumping beside our boat was a first for most of us on the trip. The colors of the coral and fish we saw snorkeling seemed too beautiful to be real”…read more!

Melissa D
Melissa DMount Pleasant, Utah