The San Blas Islands are a chain of 350 tiny islands found off the Caribbean coast of Panama, about two hours north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Known for their natural, pristine beauty, including beaches and mangroves, the islands are becoming a popular destination for ecotourism. Here are 5 things you will definitely want to do if you visit the area.
- Go bird watching
The San Blas Islands offer one of the best environments for tropical bird watching in the world. The San Blas mangrove eco-region, which includes the San Pancho and El Pozo Estuaries, Peso Island and the La Tovara Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary are the primary locations in the San Blast Nayarit for birding. The Audubon Society estimates there are up to 250 species of birds in the area, with up to 80 percent in the winter months coming from migratory North American birds. The local exotic bird species you might find include Belted Kingfishers, Inca Doves, Bronzed Cowbirds and The Great Kiskadee, among others.
- Hit the water for some snorkeling
The San Blas archipelago is considered one of the best locations for snorkeling in the world, and with good reason. The archipelago took thousands of years to form, and the coral reefs are home to thousands of species of fish. Chichime and Hollandes are two of the most popular reefs.
- Relax on the Beach
You’d be amazed that you can have beaches this beautiful without the crowds, but that’s what the untapped beauty of the San Blas Islands offers. Sometimes, you will have them all to yourself. Enjoy the white sand beaches in the Carti region, and if you’re up to it, you can even swim to another island.
- Find some adventure
If you’re a person who needs activity, San Blas has plenty of that too. Whether you want some fun on the water with kayaking or sailing, or a tour through the rainforest, the islands offer something a bit on the wild side for everyone.
- Soak in the local culture
Step back centuries and visit a local Kuna village. The Kuna people are proud and welcome visitors, but only 10 percent of the archipelago’s islands are inhabited. Get a feel for the Kuna way, and make sure you try some fresh fish.