San Blas Islands in Panama: 5 Best Tips - AmazingPlaces.com

San Blas Islands

Off the coast of Panama you will find the 357 San Blas Islands. They are small islands in a turquoise ocean with white beaches and swaying palm trees. The indigenous people here are the Kunas, and you can meet them.

Off the coast of Panama you will find the 357 San Blas Islands. They are small islands in a turquoise ocean with white beaches and swaying palm trees. The indigenous people here are the Kunas, and you can meet them.

A boat tour in the San Blas Islands.

You know the feeling. In your busy day-to-day life, you slip into a day dream of beautiful places you’d like to go back to. The San Blas Islands could be one of those places. Tropical Islands, palm trees, sun, warm winds and golden beaches. Some of the hotels and lodges have got hammocks waiting for you. Just lie down and relax. You won’t be disappointed…


Kuna Indians in the San Blas Islands

A Kuna woman in the San Blas Islands. ©Corno van den Berg

The most special about the islands are the indigenous people, the Kunas. They live on about 40 of the islands and you can join a guide to go and meet them in their villages.

Villages of the Kuna

The villages are best visited with a guide. The locals make a kind of batik clothing, which they wear themselves. You can also buy the jewellery they wear. These are often remarkably large as you can see with the women who wear them.

Note: Usually you have to pay for every photo of a woman in traditional costume. First ask if you can take a photo, otherwise you will have an argument. Like I had, while not taking a picture of a woman.

The discussion made my experience a bit less. And I wondered to what extent their traditions are still real. I asked my guide, but got an evasive answer. On the other hand, it is good that these fishermen now have a better income. Although their culture is slowly being lost, I fear.

Two Kuna kids in a village on the San Blas Islands. ©Corno van den Berg

Tourism is only allowed on part of the islands where the Kuna live. The other islands are left alone, so that's good.

Boat tour

A boat trip along the various islands is the best excursion. I asked the captain if there was a swimming stop and a snorkeling tour possible. He smiled and nodded. The water was wonderfully warm and incredibly clear. With many colourful fish, and even slow swimming sea turtles.

Best time for the San Blas Islands

It’s pleasant any time of year, but the islands have two seasons.

The dry season lasts from December to April and the days are warm and perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

The wet season last from May to November and has daily pretty much daily. It’s a good time to go to do activities, such as kayaking, walking, fishing, snorkelling and more.

Accommodation in the San Blas Islands

There are only a few places to spend the night on the San Blas Islands, and they are not the luxurious resorts that you might expect in tropical locations such as this. Most lodges are basic, but they have mosquito nets and a restaurant. You can book and organise things in advance, and please be aware that there are not many amenities on the islands.