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The San Blas islands in Republic of Panama

The San Blas Islands

Imagine an archipelago of 365 tiny islands of white sand, each surrounded by a turquoise water reef and a few coconut trees to place a small makeshift hammock. Some of them are populated by local inhabitants, the Kunas who built small rustic huts made of straw and wood.

This proud and independent people has kept its integrity and has always refused to sell their islands to real estate developers. They are Panamanian, but also kuna, which is a people in its own right. They have a regime of territorial autonomy, their own language, their traditions and their culture.

The Kunas and the Surroundings

The rest of the island is inhabited by some local Kuna families. Dressed in bright colors, women often have a red scarf in their hair, a light-colored blouse on their shoulders and a colored fabric like skirt. They also carry many bracelets of pearls that cover almost the entirety of their calves. In the evening, a little before dark, the women gather and settle together to create these ornamental jewels that dress them so well.

The tour of the island is in less than ten minutes on foot. You can even see the sea on the other side of the island so small it is. All around us is the Caribbean Sea, other small islands in the distance and the Panamanian coast that ends the panorama. A perfect setting for resting, sunbathing, swimming, eating good fish and “lazing around” all day.

To mention, if you want to enjoy an even more exclusive feeling of being alone in the world, you must look to reserve an island further away from the coast. When choosing your island, the location, size, quality of the sand, the ubiquity of grass or not and the number of huts present, vary prices greatly. The farther away, the smaller it is, the more white the sand is and the no grass with no neighbor, the more you pay for your overnight stay. But your experience will be closer to Robinson’s


After a good meal made of fish, rice and a small salad, we took advantage of the soft evening to relax in our hammocks. After a good nap, we met some of our neighboring tourists who regularly came to buy beers from the lady next door.

The next day, accompanied by our new friends and a guide, “entertainer” and captain of boat (rented with company SAN BLAS TOUR, which organize san blas tours in catamarans), we all went to explore the seabed of the surroundings. With masks and snorkels, heading to the more remote islands, known as cayo Holandes. After an hour’s boat, we see a very small pebble and local inhabitants who greet us with the hand. Escale bonheur, we are offered a free swim on their deserted beach while waiting for lunch. On the menu, grilled fresh fish with typical “accompaniments”. Simple, fresh and delicious. Sitting on half a log of wood, in the shade of a large palm tree, the wind of the sea that tickles our toes and the belly that fills up little by little, it is easy to appreciate this brief moment of paradise .

After the meal, we head towards a giant natural pool located on the other side of the island. From a depth of a few centimeters, from the water as far as the eye can see, it was here that small sharks and rays were seen. Our guide, standing on the boat, pointed out the direction to go in order to observe these furtive beasts. After a few hours of bubbling in these peaceful waters, it was already time to return to Narasgandub. Before we arrived, we stopped on the way to explore the seabed a little further. We were lucky to watch a shark resting peacefully under its rock. What a great day!

Back on our paradise island, our host had prepared a nice campfire for us and our new friends. We also had a delicious lobster dinner with plantain and a refreshing salad.

With the same rhythm, the following days passed softly at the pleasure of sunrise and sunset. The end of our adventure was drawing to a close. It was the great return to the metropolis of Panama, in the noise and the populace, to cherish this brief and brief moment of our life, when we thought ourselves alone in the world on our island of San Blas.

(article translated from