As mentioned in my previous post, this post is less fashion geared and more of a documentation of the islands 🙂
Errmaaghhurrdd. You know those picturesque desktop backgrounds of islands with perfectly clear turquoise water? Yea, that’s San Blas! There’s about 365 of the tiny little islands dotting the coast of Panama, most of which you can walk around in less than 15 minutes. They’re owned by the native Kuna people and are autonomous from Panama. San Blas is an amazing vacation destination because they’re not yet discovered by the massive tourism industry and fully in control of the Kuna people. The Kuna protect the islands and keep them pristine and healthy. All accommodations are eco friendly, built from materials found on and around the islands. Perfect if you’re seeking a unique experience among untouched nature and culture.
Travis and I toured the islands with a group organized by a company called San Blas Adventures. Highly recommend! The per person fee includes food, lodging, snorkel gear and boat transportation for 4 days/3 nights. The best part is you get to meet fellow travelers from all over the world. We got to meet people from London, Australia, US, Germany, Switzerland, and France. Our group was small, only 12 people, but I was told groups can get upwards of 30 people. We were also the only ones with a short travel time (10 days). Everyone else had been backpacking South America for a month or more. I think it’s more typical for San Blas to see backpackers coming through, rather than vacationers, as it’s a popular method to make your way up to Panama from Colombia or vise versa.
The starting point for the trip was Sapzurro (gorgeous), and to make our way down there from Cartagena involved a 5 hour van ride down to Monteria where we switched to a crowded bus for another 3 hours to Necocli. There, we stayed at a hostel with our group (Hotel Panorama), and in the morning we booked a boat ride to a place called Capurgana where the San Blas Adventures company office is located. This boat ride was pretty miserable. It DUMPED rain all the night before and into the morning and during the 1.5 hr boat ride. We were completely soaked. Fortunately, the rain cleared once we got to Capurgana. From there, we had a briefing with our full group and then piled into a second boat and made our way to Sapzurro, a beautiful little jungle beach village. Here, we got to explore a tropical waterfall, ate fresh coconut cream ice cream, and got to know our group a little better. We stayed one night in a hostel here, and then in the morning embarked for the islands!
First, we had to cross the Panamanian border and go through a luggage inspection. Due to Colombia’s famous affiliation with cocaine, the border crossing is strict. We had to line up all our bags to be sniffed by a drug dog. Once we cleared this step, we finally made it to our first island! (Each island has it’s own name and I’m kicking myself for not writing them down. I’ll update this post if I ever get the names).
Touching the water for the first time is shocking and amazing! It was so warm and clear and luxurious. Straight out of a postcard. For 4 days, we would chill, drink beer, rum, play volleyball, and snorkel on 3 different islands. But each evening we would take a short boat ride to a separate “sleepy island” where the Kuna people would have accommodations set up. Think of it more like camping versus hotel style accommodations. That means bucket showers, toilets that are just a hole into the open ocean, and possibly hammocks instead of beds. We were lucky to have beds the first two nights, although the hammocks on the last night were pretty comfy. The humidity along with mosquitos did make sleeping difficult for us – at least the first two nights. But that was my only complaint for this trip. Everything else was amazing.
Our guides were so positive and friendly, the food they prepared was always delicious, and the beauty of the islands is simply breathtaking. This trip is hands down the most epic I’ve experienced so far!