Must visit paddle destination in 2018As told by @sailipanema If there is one new place you need to paddle board in 2018, it would be the San Blas Islands. The San Blas Islands is a hurricane free archipelago in Panama, home to 300+ islands. Since living on our catamaran, we’ve been kicking it in the San Blas Islands for over a year now. After so many amazing paddle board adventures, we can genuinely say that this place was made for paddle boarding. CAUTION: reading any further may cause you to book a trip in the next five minutes. Just remember to say goodbye to all your loved ones before you leave because you may never return home again.
Getting to know the San Blas IslandsTraveling around the San Blas Islands you will discover its many treasures: white sand beaches, coconut trees, coral reef and a flourishing marine life all coated with crystal clear waters. Traveling from island to island you will find protected spots perfect for quiet anchorages and exploring around with your paddle board.
Seasonal weather – best time to visitYou can visit San Blas anytime of the year and experience its gorgeous weather. There are two seasons:
- Rainy season (May - November)
- Windy (December – April)
Best places to stayThanks to the wise Kuna natives, San Blas is still a hidden pearl in the Caribbean. No fancy hotels are allowed here. To visit San Blas, you have three options:
- Spend the day
- Stay in one of the Kuna huts
- Stay in a chartered
Best places to paddle in the San Blas Islands
1. ChichimeChichime is a protected anchorage composed of two islands that offers plenty of SUP action. At the entrance of the bay you can paddle above a sunken sailboat , still intact, just missing its mast. There are hundreds of starfish all along the beach on the Big Chichime island and just off Small Chichime, there is a big ship wreck. From the beach to the wreck, the water is shallow allowing you to easily paddle to it. Be sure to Keep your eyes peeled for sting rays and starfish on your way! Occasionally, a small pod of dolphins will come to play around the sail boats in the late afternoons. If you’re lucky, you can get close to them with your board. This is also the perfect place for some SUP yoga for sunrise or sunset. If you are into SUP surfing, the most consistent and forgiving wave is a right hander at Chichime pass. It breaks over some beautiful reef and peels out nice and easy all the way to the channel. It works from 2ft up to 6ft. <--kinda weirdly worded
2. Waisalardup (Holandeses)The next group of islands is called The Holandeses. Waisalardup is the first anchorage as you come from Chichime. This is one of my favorite places in San Blas. Here you will find a big wall of corals parallel to the beach with big coral heads popping up almost touching the surface. On calm days, you can paddle along the wall (careful with your fins, it’s shallow!) and enjoy some of the islands best snorkeling.
3. Miridiadup (Holandeses)This is a very calm anchorage between an uninhabited island and one with just two families living on it. There are some stunning corals, which makes this spot great for snorkeling too! You can paddle to the beach and walk around the island as well. There is one family on the far right that sells handcraft (the famous textile art called Molas and bracelets made with beads, same as the Kuna women wear on their arms and legs).
4. BBQ island (Holandeses)This anchorage is very shallow and has a white sandy bottom. Here you can easily spot diverse types of rays, as well as nurse and reef sharks. You should paddle around BBQ island, stop for a drink or even lunch and meet the friendly Kuna family that lives there. This island offers a series of surf breaks to choose from. The most famous one is at the pass of BBQ island, which is left hander that finishes on a deep channel.
Getting aroundTraveling to San Blas from Panama City is a bit of a trek but easy. However, it will take almost a full day to get there. Here are several ways you can get to San Blas Islands:
- Sailboat charter (this is the most fun!)
- Water taxi
- 4x4 Jeep