San Blas Islands Panama
Often a featured destination for cruises
to Panama, the San Blas
Islands are a cultural Caribbean gem. Home to the Kuna Indians, the San Blas Archipelago
is comprised of hundreds of islands and islets found just
off the coast of the Comarca de Kuna Yala. This
Comarca, or autonomous territory, is a thin strip of land
that stretches across Panama's northeastern coast.
While some of the San Blas Panama islands are inhabited,
others remain isolated, showing no signs of life at all.
Should you be looking for a true getaway while vacationing
in Panama, the stunning beaches,
swaying palm trees, laid-back attitude and rustic accommodations
of the San Blas islands might just be the ideal fit.
There aren't too many destinations in the Caribbean
quite like the San Blas Islands Panama archipelago.
Here, you can witness the Kuna living much like they did
centuries ago, in a part of the world that truly deserves
to be called paradise.
You'll be hard-pressed to find anything in the way of luxury accommodations in San Blas Panama, though proposals for new lodges are always swirling about. The Kuna Indians control the region, and they offer some pretty basic accommodations that are really part of the charm. Sure, staying in a well-appointed, multi-star hotel is always nice, but when you visit a place like the San Blas Islands, it's not recommended that you spend too much time indoors, as soft sands and translucent Caribbean waters are always calling. The Kuna are really an intriguing culture. They have managed to hold on to their language and traditional way of life throughout Panama's history, and in the 1950"s, they were awarded autonomy. Tourism is a prime source of income for the Kuna, and they welcome visitors with open arms. You might consider paying a bit extra to stay with a Kuna family. It is sure to make for a lifetime of memories. Fishing and coconut sales are also ways that the Kuna make a living, and it appears that they are doing quite well. The Kuna women are certainly more intriguing than the men when it comes to dress. While the men are known to have adopted ballcaps and western clothes, the women still flaunt their colorful, native dress. The Kuna women are known for their dazzling "molas", which are ornate fabrics with all kinds of elaborate designs.
When you book a stay at one of the San Blas Panama hotels, you will be able to arrange all your tours through the local Kuna guides. A guided San Blas excursion can see you snorkeling off of many an island shore, examining amazing coral reefs and interesting shipwrecks. If you are up for some hiking, you can arrange a San Blas excursion through a rainforest. Perhaps you are in for a day on a secluded island, where not one other soul can be found. Among the top San Blas excursion choices is a tour of a traditional village. Getting the chance to interact with the Kuna is a treat for any traveler, but just remember to offer a small tip if you want to photograph them. The Kuna-run hotels offer a range of eco-tours, and you can also arrange a fishing trip if you desire. The Carti region is a popular San Blas Islands Panama destination for those seeking pristine beaches. Isla Pino is also a common tourist destination, as is the area of Ukupseni. Your meals are generally included in the rates at the Kuna lodges, and though these lodges are pretty rustic, there are options to secure a cabin with a bathroom and running water. Once you settle in, you might choose to have a Kuna local whisk you off by canoe to your own, personal island. You can rent many a San Blas Panama island for a small fee, and enjoy snorkeling and swimming at your leisure. A favorite San Blas pastime involves simply finding a seaside hammock and listening to the natural rhythm of the Caribbean Sea.
While the Kuna Indians are doing fairly well these days, there are chances for those who are interested to do some humanitarian work here. Maybe you can help out with construction of a home, or perhaps you are looking for an ideal Peace Corps destination. As tourism in San Blas Panama increases, the influx of funds should lead to more infrastructure and better healthcare facilities. With several hundred islands to boast, it's hard to think that future development will ruin the charm of San Blas. Should you be planning a San Blas Islands Panama getaway, you will likely arrive by flight. These national flights are short in duration and priced pretty well, most coming by way of Panama City. You can also arrive to one of the islands by way of boat, but that often means having to do quite a bit of work to find your way from Colon. For the most part, the best time to come to the San Blas Islands is between April and June, when the snorkeling and scuba diving are perhaps at their best. This is a year-round destination, however, so worry not if you plan your trip outside of those months.