If you're looking for an escape to a remote paradise, then visiting the San Blas Archipelago in Panama is the trip for you. This island sanctuary is home to 365 pristine islands with white-sand beaches, where each island is owned by a different tribal family of the indigenous Kuna Indians tribe, also known as the Guna Yala. Learn how you can get lost in island life, where days are spent sailing or boating from island to island and catching fresh fish in the ocean.
Unplug and Have a Technology Detox
As you may have guessed, the San Blas Islands do not offer wifi. If you purchase a chip in Panama, then you'll be connected, but to enjoy the islands to their fullest, turn off your phone and tune into nature. This is a perfect destination for the ultimate technology detox, as days are spent resting on the beach and drinking out of coconuts. You can still take a lifetime's worth of beautiful beach pictures, perfect to share on social media once you return to the mainland.
Rest in the Shade of the Palms
To stay true to the technology detox, resting is essential. And in the San Blas Islands, naps are best taken under the shade of the palms. Local families that own the islands sell anything from fruits to beach towels, which you can purchase for a picnic lunch in the shade. The temperature averages at 90 degrees year round, so sunblock and shade will be essential to a relaxing time in the islands.
With 365 islands in total, island hopping is a must during a visit to the San Blas Islands. Companies like Cacique Cruiser specialize in adventures through the archipelago. You can opt to stay as long as you would like in the islands, as most of them have family-run casitas, which are open to travelers to the area.
Learn About Local Culture
The Guna Yala (also known as Kuna Indians) are the indigenous people of the San Blas Islands. Originally occupying the border of Panama and Colombia, (when Panama was part of Colombia), the Kuna Indians began settling in the San Blas Archipelago around 1800. No tourists were allowed to the region until the 1940s, as the Kuna Indians operated an autonomous state separate from Panama. The Kuna have kept many of their cultural traditions intact, which are still thriving today. They originally wore few clothes and decorated their bodies with bright, colorful designs, but after Europeans arrived, the Kuna began making and wearing intricately woven molas, which are still present today. Travelers are now allowed to visit, and each island family works with local operators and each other to ensure guests have the best experience on a visit to the islands.
Have an Adventure
There is no shortage of adventure in the San Blas Islands. Exploration opportunities include sailing from island to island and fishing and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters. You can also opt to kayak and paddle board the open waters, and you can even reach other islands if you're up for the journey.
Relish in the Journey
Getting to the San Blas Islands is a journey in itself. It's essential to have 4x4 transportation, as the winding roads leading to the archipelago are full of intensely steep mountains and valleys. It takes approximately 2.5 hours from Panamá City to arrive at the port, where a water taxi awaits, lasting around 30 minutes, depending on your island destination. When it's time to end your journey through the San Blas Islands, you'll likely leave just in time to catch an ethereal sunset along the jungle road.