For some of the best beaches in Panama, head for the San Blas Islands on the north east coast above Colombia. If sun, sand, sea and a hammock are all you need, then you must visit these islands, where the Kuna Yala will be your hosts. With over 350 tiny Caribbean islands scattered in an area of about 100 square miles, you can luxuriate on picture postcard white sand, with intense turquoise sea and palms swaying in the breeze.
San Blas is an independent territory where the indigenous Kuna Yala people administer the region and their colourful way of life and fascinating culture are also a very good excuse to visit. Facilities can be a little rustic but what a fabulous place to truly get away from it all. Getting here can be a bit of a trek but the lack of mass tourism is a joy and knowing that the local people benefit financially from your visit can only add to the pleasure.
From Panama City it’s about a four-hour drive in a 4x4 vehicle to a small river port from where a water taxi takes you to your island. A stop for an hour or two at one of the bigger islands where there is a sizable Kuna community is highly recommended. Here you can buy stunning, brightly coloured mola, which form part of the Kuna women’s traditional dress. The women use a reverse applique technique, often featuring geometric designs – these make a very special souvenir.
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