San Blas Islands
Take the path less taken and you’ll eventually travel to a place like Playon Chico of the San Blas Islands (Guna Yala) where time has tentatively stopped. The territory has remained mainly untouched. There are no roads that lead to Playon Chico which contributes to the conservancy of the region. Another factor is that the Kuna (Guna) tribe is semi-autonomous and they don’t allow the land to be developed without the permission of the Kuna elders.
The San Blas Islands are made up of approximately 350 islands of the coast of Panama in the Caribbean. San Blas is a term given by the Spanish during their rule and the locals refer to it as Guna Yala but it is more widely known by the Spanish term. The islands are a haven for eco-tourists because of its pristine environment. Some regions can be reached by boat via nearby coastal town. Playon Chico can only be reached by small plane from Panama City. You’ll have to board a 10-seat single propeller plane and land on a small airstrip surrounded by mountains on one side and the sea on the other. This airstrip has no roads leading to it, just a foot bridge to the Kuna town of Ukupseni, also known as Playon Chico.
The only place to stay in the region is the Yandup Lodge just a 20-minute boat ride from the airstrip. The lodge is a great place to unplug and remove yourself from the world as there are no televisions, wifi, or cell signal.
The region is made up of several coral reefs with islands dotting the tops of these reefs. The elevation of these islands are a minuscule 2 feet above sea level. The islands do not receive hurricanes but large tidal shifts can saturate portions of these islands. Multiple islands have their own private beach in front of pristine coral reefs. The islands are inhabited by coconut trees tended by the Kuna and the coconut was once their form of currency. Now, there often sold to merchants from Columbia who covet them. The mainland portion of the area has no roads, just trails used by the Kuna tribe to access their allotted plot of land to farm.
San Blas, specifically Playon Chico, is an untouched portion of the world that I definitely would recommend to the intrepid travelers who seek the road less traveled. It’s also an eco-tourist’s dream. Bottom line, San Blas is paradise.