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Guna Yala, The San Blas Islands

There's a place off the Caribbean coast of Panama where you'll find no resorts nor cabana clubs - but pristine, natural islands, sands, and water. All are inhabited and maintained by the indigenous Guna Yala people.


A network of islands perched atop the coral that thrives beneath them. A few were adorned solely with palms and grass. Many support the small huts, cabins, and docks of the families that call them home. One barely breaches the surface, small enough for leisurely waves to roll from one side to the other. And another lurks two feet below but can be spotted as deep, blue water becomes shallow turquoise over its submerged sand.


We booked the Diablo Island tour through San Blas Dreams, but I honestly can't remember why I chose that one over all the others. I'm sure you could have a similarly spectacular experience with any San Blas Dreams tours. This one was $145/per person for one night.


The beautiful thing about booking the tour is that all the transportation was organized for us. Our driver picked us up around 4:30 am from our hostel in Panama City. We stopped on the way out at a grocery store to pick up snacks and lots of water (the running water on the island is not drinkable).


It took us almost four hours to get to the island; three hours by rough jungle road, then 45 minutes by small boat. It was incredible, however. We passed island after island, seemingly floating, scattered across the ocean.


We made it to our island and settled into our plywood cabin with one lightbulb.


I whipped out Dronie because the sun was firing, and I knew that I'd get the bluest waters with no clouds to dull my new beautiful surroundings.




When it was time for lunch, we instantly made new friends with a Chilean couple and a girl from the Netherlands. We ate the included lunch: a whole fried fish, rice, and coleslaw.


Then it was time for our tour. This tour is optional, but the price includes an excursion during the day when you book with San Blas Dreams. I think it varies from island to island, but the one for Diablo Island was a tour of a couple of other islands. We grabbed some $2 beers, hopped on the boat, and were off!


We passed an island with only a few palm trees and a bar. This one must have been the party island. We passed one that didn't have any trees, just sand. And another was actually submerged completely and dotted with orange starfish. We got to hop out of the boat for this one and wade in the water that came up to our waists.



The rest of the day was spent lying on the sand, drinking rum juice, reading a book, getting to know our new friends, and napping. When dinner rolled around, the oldest member of the Guna Yala family on our island invited Brett and me to drink beers and eat cake with him (it was his birthday). We ate another fried fish dinner and continued to party into the night. With our Chilean friends, our Dutch friend, and now two Parisians and the Guna Yala people, we drank, laughed, and chatted in broken Spanish as that was the only common language between us.


The following day, Brett and I woke up before sunrise and hit the hammocks to read, sway and take in the colorful morning sky before our breakfast of hotdog stew and arepas.



Later that morning, we left the island and began with another bumpy boat ride and a long winding jungle drive back to Panama City.


We chose the one-night option, but there are a few options when booking through San Blas Dreams, including two-night and three-night stays. Brett and I agreed that one night was just enough, especially since we had a finite amount of drinking water and no real showers.


San Blas (Guna Yala), thank you for a beautiful experience. Chill, refreshing and fulfilling. We will be back.




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My boyfriend and I started our digital nomad journey in December 2021. We're just starting out and want to share all the ups and downs with you!

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