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San Blas Islands

 
Mola

Mola

Step back a thousand years to pre-Columbian times as you visit the land of the Kuna Indians. Explore a primitive thatched-hut village, and shop for exquisite multi-layer tapestries called ‘Molas’.

San Blas

San Blas

 Your yacht will anchor among these lush, low-lying isles off the Panamanian coast. The Kuna Indians have lived here for centuries, maintaining their colorful traditions and skills of creating elaborately appliquéd molas. Go ashore to visit them, and perhaps to bargain for a souvenir of your day in paradise.

San Blas Etiquette: The San Blas people have been accustomed to sailing and trading vessels visiting their islands for many years and are quite friendly toward strangers, providing the strangers follow the unwritten rules of the territory. However, don’t feel slighted if some Kunas seem to show a studied indifference to you; it is part of their impassive nature. Be patient, be firm, and laugh in face of argument, for you will find they respond to a sense of humor. The San Blas islanders lead an idyllic life. They divide work equally between men and women, which affords ample time for handicrafts, for relaxation at the end of the day, and for talking over village affairs.

Life in the islands for the most part is easygoing and relaxing, as we have said, but there are a few rules of the territory to bear in mind. For instance: never, but never, help yourself to coconuts, even though you may see some lying on the ground on an uninhabited island. Coconuts are the mainstay of economic life in the San Blas, and all of them should be purchased. Another point: If a village has red flags flying or posted at the dock, it strictly means do not enter, or you will be subject to a heavy fine. In such cases the village is undergoing a nia-exorcising ritual (nia means devil), which may last up to 10 days.

Old Kuna Indian Woman

Old Kuna Indian Woman


Kuna Indian Child

Kuna Indian Child

Photographing an Indian or his village may require special permission, which usually involves a fee. The Kuna have traditionally a negative superstition about the photographing of their persons, so be discreet with your camera.

One can hardly fail to enjoy cruising in tropical waters of such exceptional beauty. In addition, there is an unusual opportunity to observe at close hand a life-style entirely different from your own, one that contains much to be admired and respected.

 

 

 SAN BLAS ISLANDS ITINERARY

 

Day 1-  Arrive in Panama, then a quick flight on a small plane to Porvenier. You will be greeted by your crew and brought back to your charter yacht via the tender. Enjoy a leisurely lunch onboard, then visit enchanting Nalunega. A short trip over to the Chichime Cays allows plenty of time to watch the sunset over the mountains of Panama.

Day 2- Spend the morning snorkeling the crystal clear waters, reluctantly returning to the yacht for lunch. As you dine al fresco on the shaded deck, your captain will move the boat to the next anchorage: Holandes Cays. You can hardly wait to plunge back into the water, or perhaps take a stroll on the white sand beach and relax beneath a coconut palm.

Day 3- Greet the day with a cup of fresh-brewed coffee, watching the sun rise from behind a perfect tropical island. Following breakfast, leave for the Coco Bandero Cays. Lunch will be a beach barbeque, followed by a nap on a hammock strung between two palm trees. Then maybe a swim or kayaking before cocktails at sunset.

Day 4- You awake to the quiet hum of engines as you head toward Alitupu, close to the mainland. Explore the nearby rivers and enjoy the thick shade of the rainforest and the songs of the vast number of birds that live there.

Day 5- Leave Alitupu in the morning to spend the day at Nurdupu. Yet another example of a perfect tropical island, Nurdupu is dotted with coconut palms and breadfruit trees, ringed by white sand beaches and surrounded by clear azure waters. Dinner is perhaps lobster that the chef has purchased from a local fisherman.

Day 6-  Depart the serene perfection of Nurdupu for the more populated island of Rio Diablo. Lunch in town to try out the local cuisine and enjoy the hospitality of the friendly Kuna Indians. The afternoon will be spent leisurely exploring the Rio Nasadi with its large stands of bamboo and mango trees.

Day 7- An early start for Ustupu, home to the largest village in San Blas, population 8,000! But there is still time to stop for one last quick swim in the gin-clear waters before showering and a short trip to the airstrip where you meet your plane to take you back to civilization. You know you have return, you still have several hundred islands yet to explore. The adventure will continue…Spend the morning snorkeling the crystal clear waters, reluctantly returning to the yacht for lunch. As you dine al fresco on the shaded deck, your captain will move the boat to the next anchorage: Holandes Cays. You can hardly wait to plunge back into the water, or perhaps take a stroll on the white sand beach and relax beneath a coconut palm.

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