Sunny San Blas

Trip Start Apr 14, 2012
Trip End Oct 22, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hook Island

Flag of Panama  , Kuna Yala,
Monday, May 7, 2012

Posted by: Karen and Tim

After deciding that we had literally 'missed the last boat' to Cartegena, via the San Blas Islands, we decided to do a homestay on one of the islands instead. We really needed to unwind after the hectic last few weeks in the UK and the islands would force us to to do just that as there is no electricity or mod cons of any sort. We decided to stay at Hook Island and after a 2 hour transfer from Panama City to Cali, we were on a small motor boat winding our way through the San Blas Islands. The archipelago comprises of approximately 378 islands and cays, of which only 49 are inhabited. The Kuna Indians are the local indigenous people and the women dress in colourful clothes and beadwork.

We arrived at Hook Island and were shown to our home stay which consisted of a sand floor hut with a bed in the middle. There were no showers and the the toilet was in another hut on the opposite side of the island (albeit 2 minutes away!). So all in all, pretty basic but the island and beach were beautiful. 

No sooner had we dropped our bags in the hut and we were off on a trip to Dog Island. Just off the shore is a 'wreck' which we snorkelled which was surprisingly good with lots of different fish and coral. We then went to Star Fish beach and then onto another island where chatted with the local fisherman about their day's catch and saw them bring the fish ashore. The rest of the day was spent chilling out in the hammocks on our island and swimming. 

The first night we had the island to ourselves which was very cool and we watched the sun go down while drinking rum and coke. Dinner was served on the beach and consisted of freshly caught fish and rice. As there were no lights on the island, so we were in bed by 8pm trying to get comfortable on some seriously old and battered mattresses. 

The next day we were up at 6am(!) as the sun was shining through and the Kuna's were cooking our breakfast. We had a very lazy day going swimming, snorkelling and paddling in the canoe and chatting to two girls who had joined the island - Domenica and Clio from Switzerland. We headed over to Iguana island for a 2 hour interlude and enjoyed some snorkelling and some cold beers. During the afternoon, the Kuna's selected lobsters from their catch (see photo) and served them for dinner that night - excellent. Chris - you will be pleased to know I used the new Leatherman to break open the lobster's claws!

The next day we were offered to go on another visit to Dog Island but we decided to stay and enjoy our last full day on the island. It was a very lazy and relaxing day, the highlight being the snorkelling at dusk when we went to investigate what was out hunting on the reef. In the deeper section, there were lots of wrasse and the occasion tuna but more interesting were the needle fish in the shallows. These were very active hunters and not deterred by our presence making several 'kills' and you can watch some of the action in the video below.

The next day we were due to leave at 7am but the heavens opened at about 5am and it poured and poured and poured. Consequently we were delayed leaving the island (which we eventually did in the pouring rain) and agreed it was the right time to leave. We pitied the new guests who were arriving that day as the rain looked like it had properly set in! 

The two hour jeep trip back to Panama City passed quickly. This was our last night in Panama on this trip and our thoughts were now very much focused on Colombia. Tomorrow morning we would fly to Cartagena and we were very excited about starting our South America section of the trip. 
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