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. A part of the comarca (district) Guna Yala along the Caribbean coast of Panama is home to the Kuna people. San Blas and its surrounding area is a haven for ecotourism because of its pristine environs. The area is also popular for sailing, as it is known for its beauty and lack of hurricanes. Notable locations in the Archipelago are the main capital El Porvenir, the densely crowded island village of Carti Sugtupu, and the two keys, Cayos Limones, and Cayos Holandeses, both renowned for their clear waters.
The Guna* Indians (formerly known as the ¨Kuna Indians¨ or ¨Cuna¨**) are the amerindios, or indigenous people, of Panama and Colombia. The Guna primarily live between three politically autonomous reservations in Panama, called comarcas, most especially concentrated in the popular tourist destination of the San Blas Islands (also known as the Comarca de Kuna Yala or Guna Yala). They also live in communities in Panama City, Colón and also in other cities and towns throughout the country.
Guna women are known for their colorful, daily, traditional form of dress made of gold bands, nose ring, leg beads, headscarves and molas, intricately woven textiles with geometric shapes on natural colors (as shown in the photo above). Molas have become an important symbol of Guna culture, and with tourism becoming particularly important for the Guna´s economy, the Guna women typically sell these increasingly trendy textiles in most public locations. These sturdy, well-sewn pieces take anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months to complete, and are beautiful souvenirs that are used as wall hangings, pillows, cloth purses, etc. by Panamanians as well. Most Guna women rely on the trade of molas as their primary source of income.
As an autonomous province and with minimal interference from the national government, the Guna are the governing authorities of the San Blas archipelago and reside on 49 of the 378 islands. They wholeheartedly invite visitors to share in their crafts, dress, food, music, their culture and customs, and offer snorkeling and simple ecoturistic accommodations. The islands’ economy is based on tourism, coconut sales and fishing, including lobster, crab, squid and octopus.
Explore Panama's Tropical Paradise
This trip can be customized into an overnight adventure or even a week long vacation!
Visit San Blas and the Guna :
The San Blas Islands are located in the Comarca de Guna Yala and the 365 island archipelago is home to the Guna Indians. This trip is a unlike any other. It gives you the chance to mingle with the Guna on their coconut-covered islands, enjoy the beaches, learn about Guna culture, and more.
San Blas Islands Day Tour Description
This tour is truly authentic and offers you amazing experiences in some of the most remote parts of the San Blas Islands.
Here is a Sample Itinerary for the San Blas Day Trip:
- Depart Panama City around 5 a.m.
- Arrive at the port around 8:30 a.m. and head to the islands
- Explore, swim, or laze around your pristine island paradise
- Enjoy a locally prepared lunch
- Head back to the port around 3:30 p.m
- Depart Port by 4:00 and arrive in Panama City around 7 p.m
- The arrival and departure times may vary slightly
Add as many nights to your overland San Blas experience as you want. Accommodation styles include camping, cabins and catamarans
can be fairly busy on weekends: It’s one of the most popular islands for Panamanians taking San Blas day trips. But on a weekday it tends to be blissfully quiet and relaxing, whether you’re lounging on the gorgeous beach, walking through groves of swaying palm trees or strolling around the rather small, easily navigable island. Isla Aguja has a large kitchen, dining area, toilets and a variety of accommodation options. Best of all is the pristine, long white beach, one of the nicest in this sprawling island chain.
<<Amazing experience, great organization and delicious food! I’ve stayed for one night on the Isla Aguja, calm and easy atmosphere>>
Snorkeling Lovers - Perro Chico Island
Perro chico is the most iconic Island in San Blas Panama. It hiddes just in front of an amazing snorkelling spot, a Shipwreck full of tiny colored fishes. Perro Island has a small size, you can see across the island from one point to another. It has Private Cabañas with private bathroom, and 2 Cabañas with shared Bathroom and wooden floor, also a couple of dorms.
<<With its beautiful shipwreck sunk in front of the beach, Isla Perro Chico is without a doubt the most notorious snorkeling spot in San Blas islands. Also hosting shallow coral reefs, the island allows snorkelers to discover a vibrant marine life. When snorkeling the island, you’ll have the opportunity to encounter angelfish, groupers, parrotfish, pufferfish and lobsters just a few metres away from the beach.>>
The Yandup Island Lodge
located near Playon Chico, is the most acclaimed resort in the San Blas Islands, with overwater villas and both meals and tours included in the price of your stay. Family owned, the lodge retains close ties with the local Kuna community, so you don't feel isolated even though you're enjoying a true taste of luxury amid the beauty of Panama's Caribbean islands. It's the perfect base for exploring Kuna Yala if you have more than a day!
<<Loved the Yandup Island Lodge! This is a must, if you are traveling in Panama. By far, the highlight of our trip to Panama. The Kuna Indian staff were so warm and friendly. We stayed in a cabana over the water for two nights. We were there in the height of rainy season, but the only rainstorm we had was enjoyable to watch from our two hammocks on the wraparound deck of our romantic thatched roof hut. The meals were delicious and the food was abundant.>>
Taking a sailboat between Panama and Colombia
is a unique way to travel. You get to experience life on the sea and visit some of the most stunning and remote tropical islands while meeting and sharing your experience with people from all around the world. The trip is around 5 nights in duration. Three days are spent island hopping around the San Blas Islands and two days (30-50 hours) on the open sea crossing. The length of the trip and the islands you visit will depend on weather conditions and the departure/arrival point of the trip.
- From Colombia most of the boats depart in the late afternoon/evening of the first day and end the morning of the sixth. There are a couple boats that end the afternoon of the fifth day.
- From Panama, boats that depart from El Porvenir start their trip in the morning of the first day and end in Cartagena on the fifth day (though it could be the sixth depending on the seas). Those departing from Puerto Lindo or Portobello usually depart in the evening of the first day and end in Cartagena on the sixth day but again arrival can be affected by the sea, wind and current.