San Blas Islands, Panama
San Blas Islands, Panama
Language and Currency
What are the San Blas Islands Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
Spanish is spoken widely, but the Kuna Indians have their own dialect known as Kuna. While a part of Panama, the San Blas Islands accepts dollars universally and participate in barter as well. It is said that the official currency of San Blas Islands is the coconut and that is probably not far from the truth.
A San Blas Kuna Indian Dressed for the Day
These islands (some 300+ of them) are inhabited primarily by the Kuna Indian population of Panama. These Indians are direct descendents of the Carib Indians that were massacred by pirates, the Spaniards and other invasive cultures. The islands are beautiful and culturally rich, which is the reason to visit them.
The Nalunega Island's Meeting Hall
The Kuna Indians live in thatched huts sharing a large community hut, where they come together for community meetings. All in all, it appears to be a perfect society.
The San Blas Islands are tropical and enjoy excellent weather year around. However, the dry season is quite short. If you are visiting the San Blas Islands between January and March, you can count on good weather. During other times of the year, bring an umbrella, just in case.
The MSC Lirica Anchored off the San Blas Islands
Ships visiting the San Blas Islands must anchor up a good distance from the main island and tender into port. The tender wharf is located right in the middle of the island's flea market and beach area.
The second you arrive at the tender wharf you are surrounded by a huge marketplace offering wares and collectibles of all kinds. If you take a tour over to the neighboring islands, you will find more crafts being offered.
San Blas Island Molas for Sale
Of course, everyone is familiar with the Kuna Indian's molas. These brightly colored fabrics are great for a good number of things. The first thing one notices is that they are worn as blouses and had coverings by the local ladies. The beautiful and intricate designs make them very appropriate for wall hangings and I suspect that is what most people do with them. You will also find wood carvings, shells
Do Not Buy These Shells
(please do not purchase the Triton's Trumpets, as this is the only predator of the Crown of Thorns Starfish that decimates coral reefs) shell jewelry and collectibles, tee shirts and so on.
There are tons to do right at the tender wharf. The shopping is excellent, the beach is wonderful and you will not want for anything.
(Yes, she is smoking a pipe with a parrot on her head)
The Kuna people are hospitable and downright friendly. You could enjoy yourself right there without going anywhere. However, just south of the tender wharf there are a number of motorized canoes that offer trips to the neighboring islands to experience their culture.
These are not to be missed. The main islands to visit are Nalunega and Wichub Hula, which are just minute ride away via dugout canoe.
The Hotel San Blas
This is an island paradise and the location of the only hotel on the islands, the San Blas Island Hotel.
The School on Nalunega
Two of the agents with us were retired school teachers so we decided to check out the local school system. We were fortunate to find some of the teachers about and had a nice session regarding education on the island.
Nalunega Village Life
The quaint village is breathtaking and its culture even more interesting. We wandered the entire island soaking up its treasures of culture and hospitality.
If you like to snorkel or SCUBA, try having one of the canoes take you to one of the surrounding reefs for an experience of a lifetime. This area is blessed with mild currents and excellent water visibility, so why not cah in on it?
Yes, if you get to the San Blas Islands and don't get off the ship, you have missed a very unique experience
Well, I am not sure there are any restaurants or bars, much less ones that are great.