- Last Updated on 19 July 2013
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The Islands are home of the Kuna Indians who lovingly produce in manual labour the world-famous Molas (Mola). The region San Blas comprises a narrow coastal strip and 365 islands off the coast. It is the home of the Indian tribe Kuna who managed to achieve the entire sovereignty over this area with the help of a rebellion. Thus this splendid place has almost completely remained unaffected from colonisation and civilisation.
Paradisiac Flair on San Blas
You only need 5 minutes by boat to go from the mainland to San Blas. Most of the time you will land and dock on the main island El Porvenir and then will go on to the other islands. The scenery is very similar to the South Seas. All small islands - planted with palms – are surrounded by fantastic, white, fine-grained sandy beaches and crystal-clear water. It’s beyond questions that San Blas is one of the most beautiful islands and destinations in general.
Access to San Blas only in accordance with Strict Rules
While only about 50 islands are cultivated and inhabited, only very few are accessible to tourists. If you are interested in paying a visit also to other islands, you have to file an application which is to be approved by the village council. In order to maintain their traditions, the Kuna Indians have set up rules which are to be observed by every tourist visiting the island. You will find neither hotels nor resorts there. All touristic accommodations are managed by Kuna Indians – of course in the traditional way.
I would like to go there, but how?
You can reach San Blas by boat, by airplane and now also by car. Local airlines offer regular flights from Panama City to San Blas. From the Panama City you can go hire a boat to the islands. There are a lot of Tour operator that organize trips to the San Blas Islands.
from Panama City to Kuna Yala - San Blas by car
From Panama City just take the Interamericana and drive east, past Tocumen Airport, to the small town of Chepo. From there you take a newly constructed road (Llano a Cabañas Carti) that leads you through the natural reserve Nusagandi. As soon as you take the road, you immediately notice the beautiful and extremely lush landscape. Moreover the climate changes at the same time. As the street will pass over a small mountain range through dense rainforest, the temperatures drops a few degrees turning it to a pleasant ride. The nature in this region appears to be completely intact and full of life. After about 1.5 hours drive you will reach a border post of Comarca Guna Yala, where you have to pay a small fee in order to pass by car. Half an hour later you finally arrive at your destination - the port "Puerto de Carti". At the port you will be registered with your name, age and nationality, and also pay the fee for crossing to your desired island.
Hint of TravelPanama
The new road through Natural Reserve Nusagandi is indeed in a very good condition but is full of turns and ups and downs. You should make this trip in any case with a four-wheeler (4x4) SUV. Since the climate is very humid and the roads quite narrow you should drive very carfully. Along the road there may be several police checkpoints. Make sure you always have your passport with you.
As all lodgings in San Blas are managed by Indians, you cannot expect any special comfort. For this reason mainly adventurers and eco-tourists prefer visiting San Blas. The lack of comfort is, however, compensated by the closeness to the Kuna community and the incredible scenic pictures. It is advantageous and recommendable to ask about accommodations already in Panama City.