The San Blas Islands: Where Leo Would Have Gone If The Beach Took Place In The Caribbean
Has it always been this hard to find an island that hasn’t been overdeveloped? If isolation is your thing, look no further than Panama. The San Blas Archipelago off the country’s Caribbean coast is a handful of islands (378 to be exact) where travelers can expect to find some of the most isolated islands in the region, and meet one of the few existing indigenous populations — the Kuna — who have successfully resisted change in Central America and have preserved their way of life since coming from Colombia in the 1500s (the also rose up against Panama in 1925 and have since maintained a great amount of autonomy).
So what can one expect in such an isolated and untouched destination? As the New Zealand Herald writes, expect to run into a large number of albinos (a genetic trait passed down in this closed society), a large number of coke addicts (a result of the islands’ proximity to drug routes from Colombia to the north) and an undeveloped string of islands you’re unlikely to see anywhere else in the Caribbean. This is a result of the Kuna’s resistance to outsiders.
Compared to the mercenary development of other parts of Central America, tourist infra structure in the San Blas Islands is still defiantly low-key. The Kuna refuse to sell or lease any land to outside developers, and just a handful of locally-owned, rustic lodges are dotted throughout the 3,000 sq km making up Kuna Yala.
The quickest way to get there is by flight, and both Air Panama and Aeroperlas offer daily flights from Panama City for around USD$60, and the quickest way to never go back home is to travel to San Blas.
[San Blas by sharpei100/Flickr]
Posted on February 22, 2012 by Matt Stabile