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Playon Chico Kuna Yala, 0838 Panama
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About

#1 of 41 Specialty lodging in San Blas Islands
Location
4.8
Cleanliness
4.3
Service
4.6
Value
4.3
Yandup Island Lodge is the perfect getaway in the Caribbean of the Kuna Indians, in the San Blas Archipelago. Perfect place to relax in a hammock, enjoy the sea breeze and the sound of the waves and birds. In this private island with coconut palms, surrounded by coral reefs and a small beach you will enjoy the wonders of nature and the interesting Kuna culture.
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Property amenities
Restaurant
Beach
Snorkeling
Airport transportation
Mosquito net
Room features
Private beach
Private balcony
Bath / shower
Complimentary toiletries
Room types
Ocean view
Good to know
HOTEL CLASS
HOTEL STYLE
Family
Hidden Gem
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish

Location

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Playon Chico Kuna Yala, 0838 Panama
Getting there
Ustupo-Ogobsucum Airport24 miSee all flights
Playon Chico Airport1 miSee all flights
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482Reviews27Q+A85Room tips
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Jeannine J wrote a review Jan 2020
Merksem, Belgium90 contributions32 helpful votes
We spent two days on the island, enough to have a glimpse of how paradise looks like, but also to realize that not everything in life can be perfect. Two days of full sunshine during which the Kuna people organized 2 excursions per day (beautiful beaches on other islands, snorkeling, a small cruise through the mangroves to spot birds and alligators, a visit to the community). The food was simple but very tasteful; they took into account that we could not eat certain things and adapted the menu. Friendly staff although the communication was not always perfect with each one of them, which is normal. There was very heavy rain during our last night, so the middle of our cabaña (one over the water, very romantics) was wet when we woke up. Do not put any of your stuff there when it rains.
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Date of stay: December 2019
Value
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
1 Helpful vote
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o2floss wrote a review Dec 2019
Toronto, Canada16 contributions1 helpful vote
+1
My wife and I along with some friends travelled here for a few days. It was great however come prepared for a remote experience. That is no cellphone no wifi no television no hot water and sometimes limited electricity however it was perfect. The service is great the food is terrific and the tours are very interesting. The only drawback is getting there. You have to fly from Panama City in a small plane both ways. If you can book far enough in advance you can go with Air Panama but if not you will need a private charter which can be unreliable.
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Date of stay: December 2019Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
1 Helpful vote
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TDM-Travel wrote a review Nov 2019
Houston, Texas21 contributions12 helpful votes
If you need AC, or internet access, if you need a wine list or lunch/dinner menus, if you need a supermarket or mall within 20 miles radius, then this lodge and island is not for you. If you want to unplug, to enjoy beautiful little islands and beaches, to enjoy fresh fish daily and a simple life surrounded by friendly local people like Tomas, then you should come here! We stayed 5 nights - most other tourists only two nights which we think might not be enough to unplug and have the opportunity to explore all Yandup Island lodge has to offer if you want to be active or just relax.
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Date of stay: October 2019
Room Tip: The over the water villas !
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
5 Helpful votes
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smapenzi wrote a review Nov 2019
san miguel allende, mexico33 contributions10 helpful votes
I really wanted to go to the San Blas Islands and I only had 2 days, David made everything possible so I could get there, he got me a private plane that I shared with other 2 guest, and we arrived in Playon Chico where they were waiting for us to take us to the Lodge, is a very quiet place, with really good and fresh food, the staff is so nice, we went to Playon Chico to visit the Kunas, and buy many Molas is the best place to do it!! the next day we went to a private island and then back to see the Kunas the guide explained how is their life and I have a new apreciación for them,. the palapas are simple but very nice, the windows are open so you get a breeze. there are gekos who will visit your room but is part of the experience. swinging in the hamoc is the best feeling ever!!
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Date of stay: November 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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Hayley B wrote a review Sep 2019
3 contributions
I visited Yandup with my son and daughter. We really didn't know what to expect, but we had the most amazing time, that they cannot stop talking about the experience, and want to go back next summer. Tomas was amazing - his knowledge of the Kuna people and the local history was so in depth. My kids loved fishing with him and enjoyed the fresh cocnuts. They were fascinated by the simple living with no air conditioning, thatched roofs and open windows. However, with a nice breeze in the evening, lightening storm on the horizon and bioluminescent plankton - how could this not be paradise My children are not used to eating sea food, but I was happy to see them try a variety of fish, and crab and even one tried the delicious octopus. My son was confused why the pinapple tasted so different from home (his first introduction to fresh pinapple). Don't go it you are looking for an air conditioned chain hotel - this is a true immersion into the life of the Kuna, and I wouldn't change a thing (except book for more than two nights next time) We hope to be back soon (mom and kids - 9 and10)
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Date of stay: August 2019
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This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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scorpionfly wrote a review Aug 2019
scarborough23 contributions17 helpful votes
What a disappointment Yandup turned out to be. I had told my family that we would be staying in a little hut with a metal beds, no running water, and a bucket or a hole in the ground for a toilet. The plan was to live off snails and seaweed and bathe in the ocean with human devouring sharks. The bad news Well the huts turned out to be 20 feet across. They had solar powered electricity that supported lights and low-demand usage such as computers. The beds were way too comfortable. My face dropped when I saw a proper toilet with running water and a shower. They have an eating area set over the water where you can watch wildlife. They catch fish around the island and cook it for you. They take you to lovely beaches and coral reefs and stuff. The good news A shark actually did turn up while we were eating dinner. Unfortunately it was only a nurse shark and it did not want to eat my children. The food is mostly fish and low-fibre so you won't be using those toilets so much after all. Can you keep a secret? We had the best time ever on Yandup Island. The irony is not lost on me that you pay more for a hut than for a luxury hotel room. That's because paradise is few and far between.
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Date of stay: March 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
5 Helpful votes
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Tim B wrote a review Apr 2019
1 contribution6 helpful votes
My wife and I visited Yandup island for our honeymoon a week ago. For us it was a little taste of paradise - since leaving we have missed the island at various points and longed to be back. The moment we stepped foot onto Yandup, we felt the amazing peace of the place - the only sounds were gentle waves, a light breeze and bird calls as we walked along the grass, through the coconut trees to arrive at our lodging. The island is incredibly beautiful - crystal clear water, filled with coral and fishes. Nearby virgin Islands that can be reached by kayak. Native fisherman in the distant waters in their beautifully crafted canoes. We also found the food to be delicious - incredibly fresh seafood, and well prepared We found the rooms to be comfortable and very well suited to the surrounding environment (great situational aesthetics). The staff were really friendly and helpful, and the management were incredibly helpful and did everything possible to make it a great stay for us My wife and I found the flights there expensive, so we went by car and boat and took a plane on the way back (the return route is cheaper). You could ask the management about this option - staying in Carti overnight and leaving by boat is a much cheaper option than flying, but only for the adventurous and those who enjoy experiencing indigenous culture. Both the car and boat trip were a bit intense, but the peace of the island washed away all the stress of the trip! The plane trip on the way back was a lot of fun, and only 40 minutes If you want a luxury 5 star hotel, this isn't the place for you and you shouldn't come here. But if you're looking for an incredibly relaxing getaway from the pressures of life to enjoy an earthly paradise, resting and enjoying good food, snorkeling, kayaking etc with people you love, I don't know of any other place in the americas as wonderful asYandup island
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Date of stay: April 2019Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
5 Helpful votes
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schartwig wrote a review Apr 2019
Culver City, California28 contributions22 helpful votes
+1
The Gunayala people revere their independence, cultural traditions, and concern for the Earth. Yes, Yandup Lodge offers a thatched hut with a good bed, bathroom, electricity and excellent catch-of-the-day cuisine, and morning snorkeling. But the essence comes from afternoon cultural visits to community, mangroves, or cemetery, with insight into these proud tribal traditions. Being away from internet, TV and traffic, reading in the hammock, feeling the pulse of the waves, seeing plankton sparking the night’s water under brilliant stars, watching locals in dugouts working a daily catch of fish, recognizing the artistry of the reverse-embroidered “mola” panels of women’s dress — this is the essence of a stay at Yandup. This is not for the entitled who seek cookie-cutter luxury, first-world amenities and trash and flotsam hidden away. This is for those who wish to experience the coral islands and indigenous communities before rising oceans swallow them. It’s a spiritual journey. My 6th visit. It’s a pilgrimage. I hope I do Yandup justice to describe it.
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Date of stay: April 2019Trip type: Traveled with family
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
3 Helpful votes
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T.H. wrote a review Apr 2019
Pleasant Ridge, Michigan5 contributions5 helpful votes
We spent 3 nights on the island, which is the minimum time needed to soak up the island feeling and to be able to take part in the tours included with the stay. We did 3 morning snorkeling/beach trips to nearby islands (max. 20 min boat ride). Although there are not too many fish, the reefs have decent coral growth and offer plenty of things to see. The afternoon trips take you either to the close by Kuna settling (we were shown handicrafts, but did not feel any more pressure as in any other tourist place), or to the local cemetery or a mangrove area. All trips are guided by local guides (in our case Domi and Tomas), who take pride in what they do and make each trip memorable. The staff on the island is also excellent, the huts are clean and spacious. The food is adequate for a tiny island. Check out the water outside the huts for phytoplankton for an amazing sparkle in the night. The snorkel equipment provided is decent and works well. We we're lucky to connect with the remaining guests (only 6 other guests on the island with us), so the evenings were filled with exchanging travel and other stories, games and laughter. Great company!
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Date of stay: April 2019Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
4 Helpful votes
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crlyles11 wrote a review Apr 2019
Denver, Colorado9 contributions10 helpful votes
I will start by saying we did a tour of Panama for our only holiday time of the year, and made Yandup Island Lodge our decision of final destination for what we thought would be a very special birthday celebration. It started out that we arrived from the plane to a trash-covered area near the runway along with the village surrounded by trash where we were taken to a run down boat that you could tell was probably from the first openings yet has never been updated, only to assume this is how the lodging would turn out. I quickly realized I was not going to be happy at the lodge after night one, being that the weather was terrible and I spoke with Thomas about what we could do for a birthday celebration (of course offering to pay extra for a lobster meal, small cake, special excursion, something just to make my partner feel special) where he informed me that they in fact could not do any special excursions because it is "very hard for them" and that they could not provide any lobster meal because they "had not caught lobster in three months" and that it is "very hard to make a cake". At this point, it is the following morning at 6:15AM I went to the office to try and speak with someone but nobody seemed to be of authority to do anything to help nor want to help, therefore I finally asked to speak with you over the phone. At which point I was put on the phone with a woman and asked her if there was a possibility we could hop on the plane out of the island at 7AM which a villager offered to give us a boat ride over quickly to see. I did not choose to go on the boat ride because while speaking on the phone with the woman she LITERALLY laughed and said I could not catch the plane for that morning and that it is very hard for the villagers to accommodate this decision. She said she could check if the next morning had any availability and would call back. Later calling back, she informed me that we likely would not be able to board the plane but I insisted that I wanted to show up and try and see the availability. Please keep in mind, I did NOT ask for my money back, nor did I want my money back. We just wanted to get off the island and get the experience we deserve for our remaining holiday and special birthday occasion, informing the woman of this as well she still seemed very unwilling to help which I did let her know. So being stuck on the island for another day, we tried to make the best out of it, and came across several other unhappy lodgers on the island, one of which explained she was a travel agent that got several complaints about the island and came to check it out for herself and decided to terminate the contract with your company. I was very disappointed in the fact that we had to pay $15/hr for a kayak, pay for snorkel gear, pay EXTRA for snorkel fins, pay for a beer, pay for bottled water (when the water they provide tastes like dirt), pay to rent a volleyball. When we are stuck on an island, accommodations such as these should be a given. It was also alarming when I decided to do the tour of the community, you were not able to take any pictures unless you provide $1 to every person/thing photographed. One incident happening while I was there a woman took a picture of a cat and the child went to her mother alarming the mother in which the mother demanded $1 from the woman where they then argued because the woman would not provide $1 for a picture of her cat. We had another incident in which a woman grabbed my arm saying "ayudame por favor", obviously "help me please" (I do speak somewhat-fluent Spanish) begging me to buy her bracelet, which I did out of guilt. You could tell the entire community tour is a scam to get more money out of us and to the community, which is completely unreasonable and definitely shows the community is not ready for tourism. I also did not enjoy the activities situation. Every single morning was the same activity, go to the beach and snorkel even when it was cloudy and raining. If we did not want to they offered nothing else. Two out of the three days I was there the community tour was the afternoon excursion, obviously because they want our money. When I asked if we could choose another excursion I was told no and that the community was the excursion. The other afternoon was visiting a cemetery, where we were to dress in all long sleeves and put on bug spray (how fun!). I believe this could have been a much better experience if the staff would have been somewhat accommodating, but they are too busy smoking weed off the back of the boat and taking shots of liquor to care. It is all about the villagers there, not the guests. It is unfortunate that nobody from the reservations team or business side of this was on-site and available to come to for any problems. I noticed one guest had a gluten allergy and clearly explained several times what she could not eat, yet they tried serving her the regular food each time, each time her sending it back and having to ask for something different. I also was unhappy when we were boating back from snorkeling we passed a villager fishing where he had 7 lobster in his boat (mind you they could not catch lobster for 3 months) AND we had lobster in several of our meals. Absolutely ridiculous. We tried going the second morning on the plane and I noticed a different vibe and the villagers looking at us funny and laughing, after several moments of listening in on the Spanish conversation I understood that they were laughing at the fact that we were wanting to leave and that we thought we had a chance of leaving because it was my partners birthday. After humiliation and anger, we were denied and 6 Kuna villagers filled the plane along with pounds of their exports some of which that could have waited the next day to accommodate very very UNHAPPY guests. But again, it was all about the villagers and not the guests. We were then informed from the pilot that we should have tried the morning before BECAUSE THERE WERE SPOTS AVAILABLE!! But the woman I spoke with would not allow this to happen. Upon arrival back to the island, we did not go to breakfast as we did not have an appetite. Nobody checked on us, nobody asked us how we were the rest of the trip, nobody created any special accommodation, nobody celebrated the birthday, nobody cared. Very shocking as we paid so much to be there and thought we would be treated as proper guests. I would not wish this on anyone trying to enjoy the limited time they have for holiday, it was very unfortunate. I would definitely recommend Bocas del Toro if you are wanting to experience a special vacation on an island, places such as the Eco Lodge are amazing with amazing customer service and hospitality.
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Date of stay: March 2019
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Trip type: Traveled as a couple
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
8 Helpful votes
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Response from Yandup, Owner at Yandup Island Lodge
Responded Apr 10, 2019
Thank you for taking your time to send us your comments. We are sorry our lodge didn’t meet your expectations and didn’t enjoy your time. We would like to address some of your comments. Please keep in mind that everything that seems easy in the city and the western culture, it’s not the same in our area. We are in a very remote place (with no easy transportation or communication), with a different culture and a different way of doing things, we must try to adapt our Kuna ways with the western culture and it is not always easy. About the trash in the community and airport, we are very aware of it but as you might imagine it’s a big problem to tackle. Kuna Yala has no garbage disposal system, the +49 communities in the reservation have no way to dispose trash (that just keeps coming). There are no trucks (or boats in this case) to take away the trash, and even in Panama, the disposal system is really bad. Imagine how difficult that is in a rural remote location as ours. We try to organize most cleanings with the community but on some seasons it might get longer to get the job done. It is true that sometimes we can’t offer special or private tours, since they depend on availability of staff, boats and weather. We always try to accommodate or vary tours but it is not always possible. We can’t help insects biting in the tours since we are exposed to nature so they best advice we can give is to cover up and wear bug repellent. Also, as you could see, there are not many options in the area. We were also able to talk to the travel agent you mentioned, and she seemed really happy with our lodge and is willing to keep working with us (we have been working together for many years now). We never served lobster during your stay and were not able to offer lobster since we are in the mating season (for 3 months: it started on March 1st) and it is prohibited by Kuna and Panamanian law to sell/buy lobster all throughout the country. You were served prawn, we have a different type of prawns in Kuna Yala that are also called by some people: baby lobsters and are not part of the prohibition. The lobster ban doesn’t apply to locals consumption, but it is illegal for us to buy (and for them to sell) or we could get a big fine. About the cake, we are sorry about that and it is very uncommon for that to happen since our cooks have no trouble making cakes in these cases, we are looking into that since the only explanation we find is that we ran out of materials (which we receive every 1.5 months in a canoe). We apologize for this. We’re sorry we can’t give away drinks, or anything not included in the package. We have a very small range for profit even if the price seems to be high, everything in our area is double the expense because of the transportation and maintenance expenses. It is really completely out of budget to give away extras, that’s why we have very clear information on what’s included in the package (in our e-mails, website and confirmations). We understand if you didn’t like the community tour also, we understand it is not for everybody. The villagers are definitely not tourist-centered since they do not live for tourism, since it is not a fake village. They have a chance to sell their handicrafts and earn some money from pictures (many of their pictures have been commercialized for thousands of dollars, so at least they can earn $1.00 for a picture), but that’s pretty much it, the day just keeps going as usual. About returning earlier on the plane. I (Yaiguili) was the person talking to you, and I personally would like to apologize if you felt that we didn’t want to help. The first day you called me I reacted with my past experiences, when it has been nearly impossible to leave without a reservation, I even mentioned my father’s experiences trying to leave the community. I wasn’t laughing at you or the situation, that’s just the way I speak on the phone, I’m sorry. The villagers always arrive very early to sign the list and most of the times they can’t leave. To be honest, I thought you were going to lose your morning trying to go there for nothing. But now I know, it is better to leave just in case and that’s the way I’ll do it in future occasions. The next day happened what I thought would happened (no seats available). However, I can’t apologize for the villagers leaving with their bags, they have just the same right as every other passenger and we can’t blame them on having themselves as the priority since they are in their community and have many needs. They just follow the rules, if they had seats reserved they should not be forced to give up their spaces for someone else (except for health issues), and if not they probably signed the list earlier since they arrive before even the people that work in the airport. About any member of our staff smoking or drinking during work that’s a very strong accusation and of course we need to investigate into that, because that will require legal sanctions and we can’t state this without being 100% sure. Overall, we would like to apologize if the staff didn’t seem caring enough and we can’t fix what happened with you now, but we will have a serious talk with them because this shouldn’t happen. We will try to figure out what happened, since our workers are the best thing we have and they work really hard to make guests happy. It is a very rare happening. We understand we didn’t meet your expectations and we are sorry to know that, but we believe every comment helps to improve and future guests might be better informed about any destination they pick. We can only offer some comments, apologies and corrections. Regards from all the Yandup family.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.
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ALSO KNOWN AS
yandup island hotel san blas islands
LOCATION
PanamaGuna Yala RegionSan Blas Islands
NUMBER OF ROOMS
10
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YANDUP ISLAND LODGE - Prices & Reviews (San Blas Islands, Panama)

Frequently Asked Questions about Yandup Island Lodge
Which popular attractions are close to Yandup Island Lodge?
Nearby attractions include Visit San Blas Official (1.5 miles) and Visit San Blas (1.5 miles).
What are some of the property amenities at Yandup Island Lodge?
Some of the more popular amenities offered include an on-site restaurant, airport transportation, and snorkeling.
What food & drink options are available at Yandup Island Lodge?
Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant during their stay.
Does Yandup Island Lodge have airport transportation?
Yes, Yandup Island Lodge offers airport transportation for guests. We recommend calling ahead to confirm details.
Which languages are spoken by the staff at Yandup Island Lodge?
The staff speaks multiple languages, including English and Spanish.
Does Yandup Island Lodge have any great views?
Yes, guests often enjoy the ocean view available here.