Perks of San Blas:
- beautiful virgin islands
- disconnecting from wifi
- sleeping in hammocks in wet or dry conditions
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The San Blas Islands are a collection of over 300 islands managed and owned by the Kuna Yala. I feel extremely lucky to write this post after spending 4 days and 3 nights travelling through the San Blas islands to travel from Panama to Columbia.
I was only able to pack one small bag with me on this trip while my other bag was transported for me from the beginning to end so I needed to pack wisely! I bought strong garbage bags to keep my big bag waterproofed during transport and as well another one for your day bag. Our guide Pedro recommended we buy 5L of water and snacks for the journey, as well as ensuring we have all cash for the next week just in case we got delayed.
At 5am a 4×4 picked us up and took us to the grocery store for last minute supplies. We drove 2 hours to the port on a windy, bumpy road (do not be hungover – this is a warning). We loaded up two speed boats and then were off to our first island.
We were incredibly lucky with our weather and had sunshine all day, enjoying a private island. The Kunas made us a fish lunch with rice and beans and it was delicious. After a few hours, we took the boat to the “sleeping island” which was another beautiful island as well. As our group began to get to know one another, we drank Balboas and played volleyball and disconnected from the world. As the sun began to set, we all gathered to watch at the corner of the island and then the stars filled the whole sky.
I’m sure all the San Blas Adventure guides have their strengths but I thought we won the guide lottery with Pedro, Hector, and David! Pedro was a particularly great chef who made us delicious meals every day including fresh salads, fish, chicken and fruit. This night was the first night I have ever slept in a hammock. I was told the key was to sleep diagonally and it’s true! I had an incredibly restful sleep in my rocking hammock all night.
We got an early start to our day and had a nice breakfast of eggs and fruit and then we were off to the next island on a 2 hour boat ride.
After spending the day on yet another stunning island, we went to our sleeping island which had one of the main kuna villages on it. Pedro took us on a tour of the village and we learnt about the Kunas and the way they lived. There were an army of very friendly, small children that all wanted to play. It made sense there were so many because of the 70000 Kunas, a third are children below the age of 10. The Kunas are extremely friendly people and the children are so open and happy!
Unfortunately, the San blas islands are experiencing rising sea levels that has been increasingly detrimental for the last ten years.
After getting back to camp and enjoying a delicious dinner, rain started to form but it was no problem as we were distracted trying to play 21 – a hilarious drinking game. The British guys that were with us shared their rum with me and we drank from the bottle and pretended we were pirates. Yar!
I was awoken in the middle of the night from a massive thunderous crash! A huge thunder and lightning storm has formed and was looming over us. My first idea was to sit in the middle of my hammock and wrap myself like a cocoon in my hammock to stay warm but it didn’t last long. Sean awoke and invited me into his hammock and we both were much warmer and could sleep. There were some really loud thunderous shakes but we made it through the night!
After a long rainy night, we all awoke more positive then I was expecting. We delayed an hour but it was okay because we just relaxed together in the huts and listened to music. After the hour, the weather cleared and it was okay to take the boats to the biggest and final kuna island.
This island had a bigger Kuna village and we relaxed in the center. We enjoyed rum and cokes and each other’s company before our final dinner of octopus, rice, and lentils.
We got an early start once again to get to the immigration point by boat.
After immigration, we changed to Colombian run boats that took us to Capagena for our final lunch together. Capagena is a tiny seaside town on just across the Panama/ Colombia border with cheap hotels with stunning ocean views and diving companies if you wanted to take a few days and just relax. Pedro and David organized a final dinner with us and we sat in a long family sized table, ate lasagna, and continued to bond with everyone over our adventure.
I feel so incredibly grateful to San Blas Adventures and the Kuna Yala people for opening their land to us and allowing us to enjoy the islands and a little piece of their world with us.