ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The San Blas Islands of Panama. a Great Adventure Destination

Updated on December 23, 2020
doodlebugs profile image

I spent several years living aboard my small sailboat and sailing in locations such as the San Blas Islands of Panama.

One of the many beautiful islands of the Kuna Yala.
One of the many beautiful islands of the Kuna Yala.

In 1999 I was fortunate enough to go on a sailing adventure that started in Texas and ended several years later in Central America. The best part of the trip was visiting and sailing in the San Blas Islands of Panama, home to the indigenous Kuna people. I've been back several times since then and each time it's been a new and wonderful adventure.

The San Blas Islands, also known to to the Kuna indigenous people who call it home as the Kuna Yala, (also sometimes spelled Guna Yala), are a series of low lying islands numbering around 360 that stretch from near El Porvenir Panama, to the Colombian border. The area is known as the "comarca" and is a semi-autonomous region of Panama and ancestral home to the Kuna people. Only a few of the larger islands are accessible by air travel from Panama City. The Kuna Yala includes not only all of these amazing islands but a narrow band of pristine rain forest that stretches along the Caribbean sea.

If you have the time and can afford it there are some charter operators that offer sailboat tours of the smaller islands. The conditions can be primitive but the rewards of getting to see native culture and unspoiled islands outweigh the hardships of getting there.

If you plan on visiting by air there are regular flights to Nargana and Rio Sidra out of the international airport in Panama City. Flights often depart in the very early hours of the morning so you may need to be at the airport before the sun comes up.

Tours and Lodging In The Kuna Yala


There is some lodging available in the San Blas islands, including everything from huts with hammocks, to modest hotel rooms, yet these may be difficult to locate online. Before you visit, contact a reputable tour company that offers adventure tours of the San Blas. The trip may not be as easy as some other kinds of vacation travel, but will be well worth it.

You might want to take along a little extra cash with which to to buy local crafts. ATM's are far and few between in the comarca. The Kuna women sew beautiful embroidered cloth called molas that are made with a reverse applique process. They are sought out worldwide by collectors for their extraordinary detail and craftsmanship. Some are more well made than others though, and prices are highly negotiable.

Also be advised that the Kuna people don't really like having their photos taken. They, like many other indigenous people, may feel that you are taking a part of them or part of their soul when you take a photograph of them, or simply don't like being treated as a tourist attraction in their own home. I don't blame them, the San Blas is their home, not a theme park, and you're there as a guest.

Consider starting your tour outside the comarca, in the town of El Porveneir, where many adventure tours are based. Coral Lodge is an elegant and highly rated tourist hotel where you can spend a day or two being pampered before boarding a boat or small plane to explore some of the far flung islands of the Kuna Yala.

One of more than 360 islands in the San Blas Archipelago.
One of more than 360 islands in the San Blas Archipelago.

What To Take On A Trip To The San Blas Islands

There are few stores or tourist shops in the smaller islands of the Kuna Yala and not many places to get cash. Don't forget to bring along a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent and cash (Panamanian currency), since there are not that many ATM machines available. Bring your good manners and your respect for the culture of the Kuna people and their amazing home.

Before you embark on your journey, be aware that you're entering a remote region of the earth where dangerous diseases such as malaria and polio are not yet under control. It's not required, yet advisable to get whatever immunizations that your government recommends for travel to Panama, including yellow fever as well as anti-malarial drugs. There are small pharmacies on the larger islands, yet prepare to bring with you whatever medications that you may rely on. Also, make sure to bring chargers for your electronics. There is plenty of sunshine in the San Blas most of the time, which I why i prefer a solar phone charger that has enough power to charge my phone and camera quickly.

There is cell phone service on some of the islands so make sure that you arrange for international roaming with your cell phone provider to avoid unexpected charges.

You'll find the islands of the Kuna Yala to be some of the most unspoiled places left on earth. Remember to take only photographs (when appropriate), and leave only footprints.

© 2008 Nolen Hart

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • prasadjain profile image

    Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 

    11 years ago from Tumkur

    A good introduction to an unknown place. Can you post somemore pictures?

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)