The San Blás islands, also known as the Kuna Yala, is home to the Kuna Indians who are in charge of the entire archipelago of over 350 islands and retain autonomy without interference from the national Panamanian government. The archipelago is treated as a marine park and it can only really be truly experienced by boat as the vast majority of islands are uninhabited.


And it seems to be where the very concept of perfect desert island must come from as all the island groups are idyllic little clumps of white sand, gently waving palm trees, turquoise waters lapping over technicolour coral reefs bristling with amazing fish to both look at and catch for dinner. You drop your hook and anchor your boat for a spell just off one of the beaches and sit back, watch the spectacular sunset and a local will paddle up to you in a kayuka and offer you fresh crab or lobster to eat.


It’s picturesque, it’s beautiful, it’s relaxed and it’s just what everyone back home imagines we do on our boat all the time.


Now I know you’re probably all sick of my little mantra that, despite all appearances to the contrary, we are NOT on holiday. However, as we’re categorically not on holiday it felt very strange to be in a place with so many of those stereotypical holiday elements to it. And, don’t get me wrong, I like to relax and chill, snorkel, swim, and enjoy sundowners with friends as much as the next guy.


But… after a week, even two at a stretch, it becomes almost gratuitous to be in such a holiday-fied place when you live on a boat. Stranger still to us was the fact that there are tons of people who clearly had grand plans of long-term and long-range cruising who have wound up in the San Blás, ditched the plans and stayed – some of them for more than a decade!


It’s quite a comfort to both us and our families back home that, although it’s a lovely life to explore for a while, we are most definitely not going to be long-term cruisers who spend the rest of our lives on board. We both like the move too much – the challenge of the passage to get us further on, the seasonal and weather limitations that push you forward. Not to mention the ultimate goal of circumnavigation (even if we are taking our sweet time over it).


However, having said all that, we did have a great time being there for Christmas and New Year as the holiday season is all about being out of your normal life for a short time anyway. And I can assure you that Santa does indeed come to the islands – this year he even gave us a nice fresh crab for dinner.