After a long and exciting winter we felt it was time to experience a different type of dream and went sailing in the San Blas islands. An archipelago with, some say, 365 islands, governed by the more or less autonomous Kuna Yala people sounded intriguing. Islands, we felt, are best experienced by boat, so we found a beautiful catamaran, captained by a experienced sailor from Nelson, BC – just two hours South of Revelstoke.
The trip from Panama City to San Blas gave us the opportunity to take the famous Panama Railway along the Panama Canal – a wonderful one hour train ride from Panama City to Colon. From there we took a taxi to Puerto Lindo, where Captain Pete was waiting for us with the 47′ catamaran “Isleña”, a beautiful, spacious boat, which became our home for an exciting week.
The first part of our trip was the cruise from Puerto Lindo into the archipelago, sailing in open water. Not all members of the family were born with perfect sea legs – but thanks to modern medicine and a gentle captain the suffering didn’t take too long.
But it was all worth it: eventually we reached the first islands, tucked ourselves away behind the reef in a calm sea and enjoyed the sheer beauty of San Blas:
There are no words to describe the beauty of these islands – you can basically forget the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius. Think Robinson Crusoe meets Bacardi. Summer dreaming.
We’ve done a bit of snorkelling – the highlight was seeing sting rays, nurse sharks and a barracuda on a legendary snorkelling session at the Cayo Hollandaise. Max was quite respectful when we met a rather large sting ray on the way to the boat – it feels good when your increasingly independent 10 year old suddenly docks on to you like the little boy he’ll always be for me! Max had some more fun – he became quite adept with the stand-up paddle board and the see kayak:
On a few islands we met some of the local Kunas. They inhabit the islands and the adjacent mainland – after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing they gained a state of autonomy from Panama and do a pretty good job in protecting the intactness of the islands: no large hotel developments and virtually no industry. Naturally, they have a waste issue with all the plastic bottles and metal cans around – but compared to other archipelagos I have seen they San Blas is in a very natural state.
Thanks to Pete of the Isleña and his crew member Yolanda, a great Aussie girl on the hunt for all sorts of festivals, fired by the spirit of Burning Man, we had an absolutely fantastic time. Last, but not least, due to Pete’s excellent cooking and the supply of freshest fish.