San Blas Islands // caribbean paradise
You are dreaming of white, soft sand between your toes and snorkeling with colorful fishes in crystal blue water? You are tired of staying over and over in the same kind of hostels or hotels? You want to escape from work, smartphone, wifi and crowded streets?
There is a paradise in the Carribean that might be what you are looking for.
The San Blas Islands. On the Caribbean coast of Panama is the autonomous region Guna Yala, which is inhabited by the Kuna Indians, it extends east of the Panama Canal down to the border of Colombia. The archipelago consists of 365 small and rediculous beautiful islands.
The white beaches might not be endless – I mean, they’re tiny islands – but they have the unimaginable softest and whitest sand. In the clear and blue water you can spot huge red starfishes or snorkel through the beautiful riffs filled with tons of amazing fishes. With a bit luck you can even spot sea turtles.
Not even a quater of the islands are inhabited. Those wich are don’t have running water and only a few have electricity. The locals, the Gunas / Kunas, live in small hats and mostly eat fish, coconuts and rice. They sell their traditional selfmade Molas and bracelets. This is the perfect place to come back to the bare essentials of life and to enjoy a couple of days without any electronics.
There are multiple way to travel to and around the Islands. There is something for almost every budget. You can find informations on the internet and also book there or you just ask at your hostel/hotel in Panama City they usually have all necessary informations or offer different tours.
How to get there:
Airplane – there is a flight connections from Albrook Airport in Panama City once per day to the main island el Porvenir and is about 120$
Jeep – Tours usually include the ride with a Jeep which picks you up from where you’re staying in Panama City. It is about a four hours ride. About two hours go through the Guna region over a small, curvy and steep road for about two hours straigt through the jungle – 50$
After Jeep and plane you continue with a speedboat to the island youre staying at – 10-20$
Sailboat – most travelers who want to get from Colombia to Panama or the other way round take a sailboat for five days. that includes three days on the San Blas Islands. Starts in Cartagena, Colombia or Portobelo, Panama – Colombia to Panama is about 350$ – 600$.
Sailboat – you can sail to the islands and of course sleep on the boat. Catamarans have more stability and space than Monohulls. Food is usually included everything else is optional to the price – starts from 140$ per night up to 500$ per night on a luxury catamaran.
Hats – some of the islands offer hats wich starts from big rooms filled with hamocks, smaller hats with double beds still with just sand floor or even more luxury ones – about 30 – 100 $ per night
Camping – spanish knowledge might be helpful for this – on some islands you can actually just build up your tent ( e.g. Dogisland) or you chat around and you can stay on your own small island ( e.g. next to Banedup – bring some food and water) – about 5$ per night
What to do:
Explore! Walk and discover the island youre staying at or take your boats Dingi or one of the watertaxis to get to another island. Wander along the beach, hop in the warm water, watch out for starfishes or spot your favorite souvenir like huge shells you can find or buy maybe more beautiful ones from the Gunas. Find your personal favorite spot on the island. Snorkel in the riffs that sourround all the islands. Diving is forbidden, but snorkeling is also fun! I recommend wearing swimshoes or flippers because of the flat water with seagrass and hidden sea urchins. Eat local seafood. That’s a highlight for a lot of people because you get lobsters(5$), tuna or other super fresh fishes everywhere for very little money. Relax, read or tan. No matter if you lay in a hammock, your boat or the white beach just enjoy the silence and chill or read a book. This is the perfect place to come down. Connect with the Gunas. If you speak some spanish try to chat with locals about there job as a fisher, their culture or whatever you can think of. Usually they like to chat with the tourists, some also want to practise their english or will show you their houses or even take you on a ride in their tiny fishing boats. Party – it might be slightly different, but a lot of fun! With wine on your boat or rum next to a bonfire at the beach you gonna have a great time.
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