Ready to unplug, kick off your shoes, and take a dip in some of the clearest, most refreshing blue waters? Welcome to the San Blas Islands off the north east coast of Panama! Here you will discover a true Paradise.
There are 365 islands and cays in the archipelago in total, but only 49 of the islands are inhabited. They are home to the native Guna people, who independently run all of the tourism to their islands.
You can visit several of the islands on tours leaving from Panama City for between $110/person to $200/person. The price is for 2 days and 1 night and the price increases depending on which island you choose to stay over at. Ina (closed currently but replaced by a nicer one temporarily) is the cheap backpacker choice for $110 for a dorm and $115 for a private. Chichime Island is considered the nicest of the islands and costs $140 for a dorm and $150 for private cabin. You can extend your stays for only $20 extra a night per person. All meals included.
We booked our tour through our hostel, El Machico, in Panama City, because they run a tour outfit named San Blas Dreams. They pick you up at the hostel at 5:30am and drive you to the east coast, where you hop on a speed boat. It takes you to your island to drop your things, then on a tour to three different islands depending on what tour you pay for. You can also visit the San Blas Islands on a boat going from Colombia to Panama or vice versa over the span of five days for $550 and stay on several islands along the way.
The waters glisten in different shades of green and blues creating an ombré from deep blue to teal to turquoise. You can watch your toes wiggle in the sand beneath the waters. Fish zip around your legs. Local Guna boys play volleyball, while tourists lounge on the sand and in net hammocks beneath palm trees. It’s a true paradise!
Two days and one night did not feel long enough! We made great new friends, swam in the refreshing turquoise waters, and unplugged from life. Giving up technology feels easy when you can tune into the sounds of the waves lapping the shore and the breeze rustling through the palm fronds. You don’t need Facebook or Instagram, while you flip through the pages of a great novel whilst rocking tranquilly in a hammock.
We didn’t miss using our phones to check social media. Instead you can enjoy the sand between your toes and the salt in your hair. This is real not some screen saver you stare at longingly on your work desktop. It’s the sweet taste of mango on your lips and fresh fried fish in your belly!
After some stressful days of travel, this little escape was exactly what we needed to rejuvenate. We didn’t wear shoes for two days or change out of our bathing suits. We felt free to lounge with a book, take a dip, or even sit on the beach swing whenever we wanted. It was perfect and our only complaint was that it was way too short of a stay. If we didn’t have other reservations, we would have stayed longer!