Panama: Trip to San Blas – Kuna Yala

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A little while ago, when I’ve been back in Panama. I did a weekend trip with two friends to the San Blas islands. Located on the Caribbean side of Panama just east of the Panama Canal. My friends arranged the whole thing. From Pick-up in Panama City, boat ride, tent, and food. Thanks so much again for that great trip guys 🙂 If you want to book a trip you can go to the Kuna-Organisation-Homepage. They also will arrange trips from Panama City.

The territory of the San Blas islands also called Guna Yala or Kuna Yala goes along the northeast side of Panama all the way down to Colombia. This territory is inhabited by the Kuna and it has its own Flag. The territory consists of about 365 islands and only about 50 of them are inhabited by the Kuna. There you can find some hostels and restaurants. On the other island, you are able to camp on and the Kuna will bring you there and even take care of the food but you also can do your own BBQing


Panama Provinces
Panama Provinces

On this map, you can see the territories of Panama and the islands area is marked Kuna Yala. (Photo by Wikipedia)



After a drive of more than 2 hours, we arrived at the beach area in Kuna Yala. The drive there is already an adventure, once you leave the main road the Pan-American Highway you go from paved roads to dirt roads to paved roads and so on (see video below). Once at the beach, we unloaded our stuff and got ready for heading out to the islands. The people take care of your luggage and stuff, but make sure you pack waterproof.

On our way to our island, we stopped at one of the main islands where the Kuna live. Here you were able to see how these people live and work. There is not a lot of tourism in this area. They mainly live off trading fish, coconuts, crabs and Molas, which are famous all over the world. Molas are the traditional clothes of the Kuna.

As we hopped on board of our boat again and headed towards our islands you could see all the different islands around here. These islands are also very popular by circumnavigates for their friendliness of the residents and the beautiful nature here. We saw some Asian folks coming in on a yacht and having their honeymoon trip here or at least part of it.


Once on the island, we put our tent up and enjoyed the day with swimming, sunbathing and relaxing and some good local food at night. The weirdest thing here is, that you even have cell phone reception on the island we’ve been to. But as I got told, on an island a little further out, there is no more cell reception. The water here is so clear and clean. It’s amazing. Compared to Panama City, I almost wouldn’t believe that this is still Panama. But this is the Caribbean Sea.


Second day: After a nice breakfast and some swimming we got on a small adventure trip around the islands. They Kuna took us to a place where the water is this shallow, that you can stand upright in it and there were a ton of sea stars. After that, we took the boat again to a small island with only one palm tree on it. Beautiful picture. As we finished the little excursion and got back to our island, we had some more time to enjoy the day and relax before we had to start breaking things down and get ready to go home.


On our way back to the mainland they operator of the little boat had to change the gas can, because one little 5-gal can is not enough to get to the island or back. But the motor wouldn’t start anymore. They tried for a long long time, before the finally got the motor going again. The captain even called-in for another boat to pick us up. But it just took us 30 minutes longer to get back to the mainland.

As we unloaded and headed to the parking area, our driver back to Panama City was already waiting for us. Here a short video as promised before. This is the road which leads from the “Carretera Panamericana” (engl. Pan-American Highway) northwards to the coast. You really need a Jeep to get here.

Unfortunately, the video is not available everywhere in the world, just because the radio was on!



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