The idyllic San Blas Islands between Panama and Colombia
An island full of green swaying palm trees, white sand, a few coconuts and nothing else. Bright turquoise water is surrounding this small piece of paradise. The Caribic feeling to the max. Can you imagine this picture? The San Blas archipelago in Panama consists of more than 350 of these gems, or “an island for every day of the year,” as the locals say. The San Blas Islands were the perfect stop during the boattrip from Colombia to Panama.
Dolphins, rum and bioluminescence
The first part consists of a long trip across open water. More than 33 hours we see absolutely nothing on the horizon. We left the port and the illuminated skyline of Cartagena behind us a while ago. Some meters away from the boat I see water spraying in the air. A few moments later there appears a large tail in the air. Then the whale disappears into the depths. Into the endless deep ocean.
We are with seventeen people on the boat; Thirteen passengers and four crew members. We kill time with sunbathing, reading, chatting and games. In the afternoon we decide that it’s time for a swim stop. The deep blue ocean beckons. The captain throws a coin into the water, that slowly whirls down. For at least a minute I follow the coin’s movements through my mask.
After that it’s time to open the first bottle of rum. During a dice game everybody was so exited that we hardly hear a scream on the foredeck. But a second scream follows and everybody runs to the front. In front of and alongside the boat there is a group of dolphins that accompany us.
I dance on the deck with a large bottle of rum in my hand, help with navigating the boat and at night I feel how the rain beats softly against my face. Above us is a great sky full of stars. They twinkle and navigate us to our destination. Every now and then I see a star shooting through the sky. The boat cuts through the waves, like a sharp knife, and makes the bioluminescence in the water visible. Eventually the night and the darkness arrive and I fall asleep on the deck.
Paradise: the San Blas Islands
Early in the morning I wake up in paradise. We finally arrived at our destination: the San Blas islands. The pink morning glory mixes with the blue sky. I lean over the railing and see orange starfish on the deep bottom. The sun warms my face and I decide to take a dip in the water. A lot of little fish are circling around my feet. A stingray moves slowly at the bottom, clueless about all the commotion above him. A clumsy pelican dives into the water, it looks like a kamikaze-attack on the fish. But he’s lucky and remains bobbing in the water satisfied.
Several times a day we move to other islands. But it actually doesn’t matter. The islands are almost identical and are all equally paradise. Most of the time I’m in the water: snorkeling, swimming or moving around on a stand-up paddleboard. The underwater world is beautiful and I even see a shipwreck while snorkeling. For three days I feel like I’m in a scene of Pirates of the Caribbean. Surrounded by beautiful islands and by my side the lovely bottle of rum. Jack Sparrow would be proud of me.
Kuna Yala, the official name of the San Blas Islands, is an autonomous region within Panama and the home of the Kuna Indians. The residents regularly sail along the sailboats. If you want something they can arrange it, from dinner as fish and lobster to cannabis and cocaine. Besides the coconut trade the Kuna Indians are making a living mainly from tourism in this region.
It was difficult, but after three days we had to leave the San Blas islands behind us and move to the mainland of Panama. Many travelers said that the boat trip between Panama and Colombia is one of the highlights of a trip through Latin America and I can completely agree. Many people were shocked by the price of the cruise (about $ 500 with almost every boat company), but then again you are covered five days for just about everything. It is also possible to go a few days to the San Blas islands from the mainland of Panama. Many hostels and hotels in Panama City offer transportation to the archipelago and you can stay the night on one of the larger islands.
Already in love with this amazing place?