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Eastern San Blas

By webmaster last modified Aug 19, 2002 12:50 AM

Published: 2002-08-19 00:50:47
Countries: Panama

The Eastern San Blas don't seem to be visited much (except maybe by French and other European sailors!). Don't let the warnings about poor charting of the area intimidate you! With the cruising guides available and sailing only in good light, you will do fine and see another side of the San Blas. Punta Escoces makes a perfect landfall, with friendly locals in a work camp away from the village (10$ fee negotiated for 5$ + regalo).

Isla Pinos: very aggressive saila about collecting his 5$ fee before we could make another step in the village; no diving or fishing allowed; no photography.

Bahia de Masargandi: no village, no fees, calm anchorage, nice long river trip.

Mamitupu: very traditional village, very strict control of villagers, (6$ fee), no photo, no fishing, no river visiting.

Ailigandi: very open spirit (what a difference with Mamitupu!), 5$fee, photo possible after asking the saila, fishing OK.

Nargana: nice protected anchorage, no fee, post office (register mail taking only 1 week to Europe!).

East Hollandes cays: plenty of good anchorages; 5$ fee to Kunas; the best spearfishing of the San Blas (but that's not saying much!).

West Hollandes: rolly, not as nice as East Hollandes.

Coco Bandero Cays: better anchorage on west side but more scenic on east side, good snorkeling.

Mangle Channel Islands: well protected anchorage, nice coral reefs, good for night diving.

Los Gruellos Cays Kwanadup island: nice little Kuna run hotel/restaurant; scuba on the wooden sailboat wreck in front of resort (white buoy); don't tie to the other mooring as it is very light.

Rio Ciedra: get a local guide to take you to the cascade and pool on the Masarganti river; you will get some river trip in your dinghy followed by about 1 hour walking to the cascade and pool where old stories mentioned a Sirena.

Eastern Lemon Cays: nice wall diving on reef 1/2 mile east of Nuinudup. drops to 130 ft with nice corals if few fish.

In general: if you can get by with Spanish you will have no problems communicating with the Kunas (especially young ones); most villages have now phone booths that let you access ATT direct- dial 109; still possible to trade crabs & lobsters for kitchenware, alcohol & tobacco; the San Blas are changing fast but they are still unique in the Caribbean!