An archipelago, off of the North coast of Panama, the San Blas Islands are composed of 365 islands and keys, only 49 of which are inhabited, ensuring a trip to San Blas offers an authentic ‘Robinson Crusoe’ experience to travellers dreaming of exploring their own uninhabited island. It is an amazingly pristine place, without much in the way of activities, but instead it is the perfect place to swim in the crystal clear waters amongst tropical fish, snorkel in the coral reefs and simply relax on the beach, listening to the water lapping on the shore and the sporadic thump of coconuts falling from the numerous palm trees. If you imagine, in your mind's eye, an island paradise, the San Blas Islands are truly the real-life manifestation of that fantasy image. A holiday to the San Blas Islands is an escape to paradise, a world away from our busy lives back home.
Famously, the San Blas Islands, sometimes known locally as Guna Yala, are home to the Guna indigenous people, of which 50,000 inhabit the islands. After many years of forced change on this community, threatening their way of life and traditions, they are now protected and are largely autonomous, left to live their lives as they always have in this paradise archipelago. The Guna people allow visitors to explore the islands and sell their wares, such as the iconic colourful patterned clothing, or mola, to tourists. There are only a few accommodation options on the tiny islands which make up the archipelago, and the capital, El Porvenir, is home to an aeroplane landing strip, a hotel, a museum and government buildings. Across the islands, the majority of homes do not have electricity, although some of the larger islands have generators, these are often turned off after dark. The San Blas islanders have an economy based on fishing, harvesting coconuts, of which there is an abundance, and welcoming tourists on island-hopping tours of the archipelago. They also collect fees from boats who have docked in their territory. Much of this money goes towards creating infrastructure in the region such as schools and hospitals.
Despite the lack of modern amenities, the inhabitants of the San Blas Islands are considered some of the most content people in the world, leading simple lives in quite possibly the most beautiful landscape on earth. Only here can you step back in time and feel as though you are the first person to ever step foot on the tiny virgin islands. Marine life such as sharks, starfish, dolphins, jellyfish and flying fish can be spotted all year round, and will often swim close to the shoreline.
On a trip to the San Blas Islands, you have the opportunity to get up close to nature whilst simultaneously letting go of your worries and unwinding in the simplicity of such a perfect destination.