The San Blas Islands of Panama is an archipelago comprising approximately 365 islands and cays, of which 49 are inhabited. They lie off the north coast of the Isthmus of Panama, east of the Panama Canal.
10 pictures of San Blas Islands from Maarten van den Heuvel, Tom Mussak, Angel Silva and other travelers
Why travel there?
San Blas Islands, Panama, is an idyllic archipelago located in the Caribbean Sea, composed of more than 360 islands and islets. It's a perfect destination for those seeking pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and a unique cultural experience. The islands are inhabited by the indigenous Guna Yala people, who have maintained their traditional way of life and customs.
How to get there?
The San Blas Islands can be reached via a short flight or a road trip from Panama City followed by a boat transfer. Air Panama operates flights from Panama City's Albrook Airport to several airstrips in the San Blas region. Alternatively, you can drive or book a shuttle from Panama City to the port of Carti, which takes around 2-3 hours. From Carti, you can take a boat to the islands, which can be arranged with your accommodation or through independent boat operators.
What to book in advance?
To ensure a smooth trip, it's essential to book your accommodation, transportation, and any guided tours in advance. As the islands are under the control of the Guna Yala community, it is necessary to obtain a permit to visit the islands. This permit is usually included in your accommodation or tour package.
What are the costs?
The costs of visiting San Blas Islands can vary depending on your chosen accommodation and activities. You can expect to pay around $100-150 per person per day for a mid-range all-inclusive experience, which includes transportation, meals, and some activities. Budget accommodations and DIY tours can be cheaper, while luxury options are also available.
What are the best things to do?
The San Blas Islands offer numerous activities for visitors to enjoy, including swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and sailing. Exploring the various islands, visiting Guna Yala villages to learn about their culture, and enjoying the breathtaking sunsets are also popular activities.
Where to eat?
Most accommodations on the islands are all-inclusive and provide meals for their guests. However, if you're looking for alternative dining options, Cocos Restaurant on Isla Perro is known for its delicious seafood and friendly service. For a more local experience, try Eliza's Place on Isla Diablo, where you can enjoy traditional Guna Yala dishes.
Where to stay?
1. Yandup Island Lodge: A mid-range eco-lodge located on a private island, offering comfortable cabins, delicious meals, and guided tours.
2. Akwadup Lodge: A budget-friendly option with basic accommodations, located on a small island near the mainland.
3. Coral Lodge: A luxury resort situated on a secluded island, offering overwater bungalows and a range of activities and amenities.
Off the beaten path:
For an unusual travel experience in San Blas, join a Guna Yala-led tour to the lesser-visited islands, where you can learn about their history, culture, and traditional practices. You may even have the opportunity to participate in local activities, such as mola-making (the traditional Guna Yala textile art) or enjoying a traditional Guna Yala meal prepared over an open fire. This authentic experience allows you to connect with the local community while appreciating the natural beauty of the San Blas Islands.
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Discover San Blas Islands, the islands of the San Blas archipelago in Panama.
Bordered by the Caribbean Sea, the San Blas Islands are made up of nearly 400 coral islands and islets. They are also inhabited by the Kunas, an Amerindian ethnic group.
The entire archipelago has a population of about 50,000.
The islands are particularly popular and are experiencing a real tourist boom, especially for their landscape and heavenly climate.
Thus, you can start your stay by visiting the natural swimming pool where you can relax, then visit several islands including the Aguja, Pelicano and Perro islands where you can do many activities as atypical as entertaining as scuba diving or take a trip in a kayak or sailboat on the clear waters of the Caribbean. Of course, don't hesitate to take a dip in the water to cool off from the Panamanian sun.
During your scuba diving, you will have the opportunity to discover a real marine landscape as magical as amazing, where there is a whole diversity of fauna and flora, starting with the magnificent corals of all colours, or the starfish which usually land on the sand.
After your dives, continue your journey by kayak up the Rio Diablo and Rio Manglar rivers, where you can approach the tropical forests.
You will also be able to practice fishing, the main activity of the Kunas.
Don't leave without visiting some of the charming traditional Kuna villages where you can learn more about their culture and enjoy some local food.
There are many other fun activities to discover on the San Blas Islands, as well as more of the same heavenly scenery.
During your stay in the San Blas Islands, you can stay in bungalows not far from the beach.
This is a fun and relaxing way to stay.
In the San Blas Islands, you will have to pay with the national currency which is the US dollar.
If you are going to the San Blas Islands, it is best to stay at least 3 days. This way, you will have the opportunity to visit the most beautiful places, do the most fun activities and above all interact with the Kunas.
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