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October 12, 2022

San Blas islands, The 365 islands paradise

What are the San Blas islands?

Sometimes we think that we have to travel to the other side of the world to find ourselves off the beaten path. Or maybe we’re looking for solitude and isolation from the everyday humdrum of life. 
Either way, there are plenty of paradises yet to be explored just south of the United States, ready to accept the adventurer in you. Here you won’t find yourself cramped with other tourists but will be able to truly uncover a hidden gem in Panama known as the San Blas Islands. 
What are the San Blas Islands? 

Excellent question and place to start. They’re a collection of 365+ islands off the northern coast of Panama. There are around 50 of them that are inhabited by the local indigenous population known as the Kuna people. The Kuna people run the entire archipelago, and it’s important to note which islands are allowed to go to and which aren’t. But, of course, this can change, so always confirm when you arrive there. 

The Kuna people themselves are around 300,000 strong and are a matriarchal society, where the women of the tribe own all the land (and subsequently the islands themselves). Their primary sustenance is what is around them, which is tropical fruits and fish, leading to quite a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the Kuna people create some of the most kaleidoscopic pieces of art out there, all by hand, and can be seen as part of their clothing

San Blas islands tours

How to get to San Blas Islands

There’s only one airport in the archipelago, which is Corazon De Jesus. It’s just under an hour from Panama City, but the flights are not frequent, so other travel options should be considered. The most direct route would be simply taking a bus headed in that direction from Panama City.
There’s also private transportation possible directly to Puerto De Carti, which is a good starting point for the adventure. If you’re coming from another country and already are by the water, you can always sail there too. It’s common to sail around those areas, whether from Colombia or directly from other locations in Central America.
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Where can I sleep in San Blas islands?

Of course, if you’re going to be going island hopping, you’re going to want to rent out a boat and sail on the ‘high seas’ as explorers of old did in the past. However, since there are more islands than days in the year, you can spend quite some time exploring these islands, and there is always something new to discover. 
You can rent yourself a catamaran, which ends up being your mode of travel and your place to sleep. You can bask in the scenario of sleeping under the stars with the water beneath your feet every single night you’re out there. There are no limits or charges for simply sleeping out on the water.
There are also a few islands of San Blas, where you are able to dock and camp for the night or several nights if you wish. The Kuna tribe manages these places, and their accommodations are also provided to stay in. These accommodations range from private cabins to shared cabins to simple tents to protect you from the elements. Make sure to carry enough cash, as there’s no spot for an ATM.
These are also not resorts per se, as it’s more about preserving the natural beauty of these islands. This means you need to focus on bringing what you can carry back (including the trash) and consider that it may not always be simple to charge your phone or laptop, which you probably won’t need that often anyway. Yet that won’t be an issue if you decide to charter a boat and sail around these islands, as these boat charters will provide access to 220V, 110v, and 12v outlets, eliminating issues with charging any device on board.
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