Must visit paddle destination in 2018
As 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 Islands
Traveling 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 visit
You can visit San Blas anytime of the year and experience its gorgeous weather. There are two seasons:
- Rainy season (May – November)
- Windy (December – April)
Despite the name “rainy” season, it’s not so rainy. Usually, there will be scattered showers throughout the day, and the rest of the day is filled with blue skies and sunshine. For epic paddle boarding conditions, we recommend visiting during the rainy season because there is very little wind and no current.
Best places to stay
Thanks 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
We recommend staying in one of the many private sail boats, this way you can sleep each night at a different anchorage, see as many islands as possible and buy fresh fish and seafood from the local fisherman that will come to you daily.
Here are a three website’s that we recommend that offer a selection of Sail Boats (mono hauls and catamarans) to choose from. They can also assist you with transportation to/from the city.
Best places to paddle in the San Blas Islands
Chichime 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.
Traveling 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
- 4×4 Jeep
You can arrange transportation with tour operators, or if you’re staying at a hotel in Panama City you can arrange something with them.
We will be staying in San Blas until March, but we are already fully booked with charters until then. After that our plan is to cross the Panama Canal and head to the beautiful Galapagos and than the paradisiac French Polynesia in the South Pacific! We will continue to receive guests as we move forward. To follow our adventure or to come sail with us visit www.sailipanema.com or write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also on facebook and Instagram @sailipanema!