San Blas Islands, Panama

Where are the San Blas Islands?

The Archipelago San Blas Islands are situated along the Caribbean coast of Panama, less than 2 hours drive from Panama City, and stretch from the Gulf of San Blas to the Colombian border. People travel to San Blas by either flying from Panama City to El Porvenir, with a quick 25 minute flight and then taking a small boat (the boat ride varies in time depending on which island you choose to visit). You can also reach the San Blas Islands by driving in a 4 wheel car to one of the small towns on the coast and taking a small boat to the islands. The drive takes less than 2 hours and the boat ride also varies on which island you choose to visit.

How Many Islands make up San Blas?

San Blas is a series of 378 islands of which only 49 are inhabited by the independent Kuna Indians.

What are the Kuna Indians like?

The Kuna Indians are kind and gentle people who run all the San Blas islands as an autonomous province, with minimal interference from the national government and have maintained their own economic system, language, customs and culture, with distinctive dress, legends, music and dance – and thus have avoided traditional tourism development. Many tourists like to observe in the Kuna’s rituals and daily habits, which are a fun and interesting attraction while visiting San Blas.

How do the Kuna Indians make Money?

The economy of the islands is based on coconut sales, fishing and tourism, and they offer travelers good snorkeling and swimming. There are some islands with hotels that offer simple accommodations and food options. These options range from very affordable ($10 a night) to expensive ($300).

What do Tourists like to do While Staying in San Blas?

The San Blas Islands off the North Western coast of Panama are surrounded by reefs which offer wonderful diving and snorkeling opportunities. Many tourists like to relax on a hammock and simply take in the beauty of the Island surroundings. Before heading to the San Blas Islands, you’ll want to do some research online for the right island and accomodations for you. Some Islands have backpacker hostels that tend to be a bit dirtier and noisy than others.

What is are the jobs of the Kuna People?

San Blas’s Kuna Indians are famous for their arts and crafts – and especially for their brightly colored embroidered cloths called Mola. The Kuna women are the ones who make their rainbow colored fabrics, adorned with fish, birds, jungle animals, and other designs. The men’s job is to fish from canoes for fresh seafood such as lobsters and large fish. Coconut milk is a common drink and treat while staying in San Blas.

Should you bring food and supplies to San Blas?

Yes! Many of the islands offer a meal package with accommodations but sometimes food is skimpy and you might get hungry during the day. I recommend bringing snacks and beverages as well as lots of water!