Panama

365 island paradise, San Blas Islands

May 11, 2015
DSC06709
Tuba Senika, the "hotel" grounds

Tuba Senika, the “hotel” grounds

No wifi, no air conditioning, not even a fan, no electricity, no fresh water showers, basic hut accommodations and an island no bigger than 150 meters long and less than 50 meters wide, welcome to Isla Franklin. Drink warm rum in the absence of many things and find paradise. The notion of island paradises exist in special places around the world but take a bit of effort to detach from the “real world.” Food is basic usually fish or chicken though you can get fresh lobster and crab for $10-25 extra still cheaper than most places around the world. Luxuries are nonexistent. Toilets are flushed with pails of water. Time is told by looking up at the sky. We spent 3 days on Franklin Island one of 365 islands that make up the San Blas archipelago on the Caribbean side of Panama. Close your eyes, imagine crystal clear waters, sunrises and sunsets, and a contemplate how you would describe the oceans variety of blue colors against clear blue skies.

A view from the side of the dock

A view from the side of the dock

Eastern part of the island

Eastern part of the island

Incredibly clear waters

Incredibly clear waters

We didn’t have a huge connection with the local people, while friendly there simply wasn’t a lot of interaction. We did however get into a very social visiting population and shared stories with a man who looked like a skinny version of Jimmy Kimmel and a man with a gnarly mustache and a belly button ring. Our neighbors where a group of Israeli boys that had just finished their army service and smoked far more than is advised. There were the two Chilean medical doctors whom we exchanged our contact info and even before formal introductions and names were exchanged had already invited us to stay at their home in Santiago. We taught a Dutch girl how to break dance, played matkot with the most lazy but hilarious Israeli girl, we lent out a book to another Israeli stranger and when we got it back saw a note thanking us with an invitation to her home in the Middle East. There was the mom and daughter combo from Canada, the solo chick traveler from Chicago, and a ton of other men and women from around the world that gather to this little paradise. You would never know that the a mock United Nations conference could convene on such a small island but we were able to do so without government interference and we seemed to live in peace at least for the 3 days on our little backpacker’s paradise.

Western part of the island

Western part of the island

Matkot (Beach tennis) game

Matkot (Beach tennis) game

Busting out some power moves!

Busting out some power moves!

 

 

 

 

Logistics
Transportation
From Panama City take a shuttle (organized through your hotel or hostel) for $30 one-way ($60 return). They’ll pick you up from your hostel and drop you back off.
Entrance into Guna Yala territory- $20 entrance fee plus $10 tax
Boat from main port to Franklin Island $10 one way
We paid the driver $60 (shuttle) + $20 (entrance fee) + $10 (tax)= $90 per person
Room and board- $26 per person (dorm) $35 per person (private). Note neither has a private bath.
Food- 3 meals are included with the $26/35. You can pay extra for lobster or crab. We also found out we could buy from local fisherman and pay the cook $5 to cook it for us
Tours to other islands $10-20

Playa Estrella

Playa Estrella

Tons of starfish and good snorkeling on Star Beach

Tons of starfish and good snorkeling on Star Beach

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