By David Bayliss
A few weeks ago, I had myself a mancation. My friends Tom, Chris and two of Chris’ friends from Seattle all decided to get out of town for a weekend. We ended up spending two nights out in the beautiful San Blas archipelago on Chris’ boat the “Lady Lu.” Little planning went into the trip, and I showed up with my toothbrush, swimsuit, and a few bucks to buy lobsters from the local Guna in their dugout canoes. Which, it turned out, was all I needed.
We woke up early in the morning Friday and made the drive from Coronado through Panama City to the Caribbean port town of Carti. The drive to Carti winds through the mountains, and halfway through we stopped and hopped out of the car to better see the sprawling Carribbean laid out before us. I think at that point we realized we were in for a pretty fun weekend.
Debarking form Carti is a unique experience. We pulled up in the car after paying the small entrance fee and found ourselves in the middle of a rush of people. Guna and gringo both were scrambling to get onto their pangas and larger boats to get out to the islands. We found our driver with little delay, and 15 minutes later we were on board with Captain Phil and I had a cold beer in my hand.
We started our weekend by cruising through the more populated islands where the Guna live before heading out to the more isolated islands. And those islands are gorgeous. In my entire diving career, I have never seen so many starfish as I saw when snorkeling between two uninhabited islands. We took out the paddleboards, we kayaked and we snorkeled. We enjoyed ice-cold beers on the white sand beaches and enjoyed the perfect, crystal-clear sea. We had ourselves a pretty good time.
Each night captain Phil cooked the most awesome fresh lobster and seafood dinners. The boat has bedrooms, but I opted to sleep up on the deck under the stars, enjoying the cool ocean breezes at night. The next morning we woke up, had a quick breakfast and then went off to see more islands. The second day didn’t have the starfish, but I enjoyed myself just as thoroughly when I snorkeled around an entire island’s beautiful coral reef.
I have seen pictures of the San Blas before, but the islands are even more spectacular in person. This is a must see and must do for a couple, family or any group of friends. I can’t wait to go back with my wife Lynda and son Trent.