What a wonderful experience!!!
We decided to spend 8 nights sailing in San Blas with our family, and we were very lucky to be in this boat. Judit and Ignacio are very professional, very kind, and they always make sure that everything is perfect. They always choose the best islands to visit, the perfect spots to snorkel and they make their home our home.
San Blas is a beautiful place, and still very authentic. Is not everyday that you can meet a real indigenous tribe: the Kuna Yala.
This really was a great experience for our children and for us! Can´t wait to come back!
A beautiful location and beautiful hosts made this the perfect vacation. We spent five nights on the Pantalasa. Judit and Ignacio helped us feel immediately at home. We shared incredible food, great talks, music, and laughter. We took this trip to learn more about molas and how they are made. Fortunately for us, Judit and Ignacio have many friends in the Guna Yala communities and were able to have two incredible mola artists visit and chat with us. We snorkeled most days. Although we normally prefer to scuba dive, it is not allowed in San Blas. To our surprise, we saw more fish and coral than we usually see diving. Two of us often get seasick but not on this trip. After only five days we consider Judit and Ignacio to be dear friends and we hope to sail with them again.
Where do I start! When my husband suggested we go sailing while on our trip to Panama with our 21 and 17 year old daughters I was more than hesitant. We have never been sailing, let alone with 2 complete strangers. I thought this could be amazing or really, really, really bad! Also, I do get seasick and that was a major concern of mine. We sailed with Judit and Nacho for 2 days in December, 2017 and it was amazing! My only regret is that we didn’t book a longer sailing trip! I think you really need at least 3 days. All of us were very sad we had to leave. We felt an instant connection with Judit and Nacho. They were so kind and made us feel so comfortable in their home. They spent so much time explaining the islands and the Kuna Indians who live there. There was a mutual respect between Judit and Nacho and the Kuna Indians and you could tell they had a genuine friendship and relationship with each other. Judit took us to visit a Kuna village, introduced us to a lot of people, and even took us to the baker’s shop where she bought vegetables and delicious bread made with coconut water. Judit and Nacho were great cooks! My husband, who doesn’t normally eat seafood, ate every bite. Their cooking even inspired me to buy a Mediterranean cookbook when I got back home. Everything was fresh and delicious, prepared from a tiny kitchen. One of my absolute favorite parts of the trip was just being with our girls totally isolated and disconnected from everything (no internet, cell phones, social media). We haven’t spent that much time with each other without distractions in years and it was invaluable! Judit and Nacho are from Spain and we all loved spending time with them and learning more about their country and culture. We now consider them friends and hope our paths cross again one day.! If you have the opportunity to sail the San Blas islands our family highly recommends Pantalasa sailing!!! (FYI- the car ride and water taxi to the sailboat is an adventure in itself. I am very thankful that I wore a seasickness patch for that part of the trip even if I didn’t need it on the sailboat. Also, I had a lot of questions before we left home and Judit always responded right away to all of my emails). We miss Judit and Nacho!!!!! The beautiful islands were a bonus!
If you are looking for an unbelievable Caribbean vacation, look no further and book a trip to San Blas with Judit and Ignacio aboard Pantalasa. We had an unforgettable time. We are still undecided on what was the best part of our trip; the unique islands of San Blas, sailing from island to island, or the delightful company of our hosts Ignacio and Judit. These guys go out of their ways to make your stay on board easy and fun. They are extremely well-organized, take care of you at all times, respect your privacy, and cook fresh and delicious recipes.
During our four night trip, Ignacio and Judit took us to four different spots in the San Blas archipelago. When you thought you had seen the most beautiful, picture-perfect Caribbean island, there would always be yet another one even more impressive. Just astonishing - the white sands, the palm trees, the pristine waters, the amazing coral reefs the beauty and peace of it all. San Blas is a truly genuine spot in the Caribbean. One of the last places - if not the last- where the developed world has been respectful with its people and natural environment. Ignacio and Judit know well the kuna community, and you can easily tell that the kuna people love to have them in their islands. Judit and Ignacio also know the underwater extremely well - thanks to their guidance we were able to see all sorts of amazing fish, multi-colored corals, rays, and we could even spot a group of dolphins as we were having breakfast one morning! After so many years in San Blas, our hosts know the islands as if they were their hometown, and know the best spots to snorkel, to sunbathe, to swim in your own private Caribbean island, to interact with the local communities, or to just relax away from everything and everyone. Judit and Ignacio love their boat, a comfortable and elegant goleta, which is clean and very well-kept, a joy to sail on. Do not think it twice. We felt in love with Pantalasa sailing, and we are sure you will, too!
Our family had a magical time with Judit and Ignacio on their sailboat. Not only was the setting (San Blas Islands) spectacular, but our hosts could not have been better. I was so impressed by their knowledge of the region as well as their respect for the Guna Yala people and culture. Our daughters (9 and 10 years old) immediately felt comfortable with Judit and Ignacio, who are so kind, accommodating, easy to be around, responsible and fun! The sailboat is impeccably maintained, comfortable and surprisingly spacious. The food (a lot of fresh seafood) was delicious!! I took home several new recipes they shared. My one and only complaint (of which Judit predicted) is that we didn't stay longer. We stayed 2 nights, as we were trying to see as much of Panama as we could in one week. It is worth finding the time and money to stay longer, if it is at all possible. We couldn't have asked for more from this experience! We miss you Judit and Ignacio, and we look forward to another stay with you at some point in the future!
We had an amazing time on the sailing boat. We were a group of four girls and stayed for 4 days. Judit and Ignacio showed us the most amazing places in San Blas and made us feel very comfortable on board. We went to very remote islands and beautiful snorkeling places. Breakfast, lunch and dinners were delicious. It was no problem for them to adapt to our needs of gluten free food and vegeterian. We enjoyed their company very much during these days and learned a lot about the kuna and san blas. To summarize, an unforgetable vacation and place on earth, that I will definitely come back to!
There are not enough positive things I can say about the 5 days we spent with Ignacio and Judit and Pantalasa Charters in the San Blas islands, otherwise known as Kuna Yula, the homeland and semi-autonomous area of Panama managed by the Kuna Indians.
This was our first time on a sailboat and it was an extraordinary experience for myself, my wife and our now adult children (20 yr old daughter and 18 yr old son). We were a little worried about a sailing trip as my wife and daughter have a tendency to motion sickness, but that turned out to a total non-issue. First, the San Blas Islands are protected by a large coral reefs meaning that the water in and around the islands is very calm relative to open ocean sailing (in 5 days there was only one minor bit of "queasiness" on the 2nd day that was easily managed). Second, we generally sailed for a couple of hours each day and then anchored, which was perfect for us. Third, the experience Ignacio and Judit bring to sailing kept us very confident and comfortable. Ignacio is a lifelong sailor and among their extensive experience, he and Judit have multiple transatlantic crossings under their belts. Their deep knowledge of the San Blas islands, reefs and traffic patterns from many years of sailing here had us anchored every day in beautiful locations with few others (they skillfully avoided some very popular spots that get overcrowded).
We are very active and generally pack our trips very full and are always on the go so we were a little worried we might be bored on a 5-day sailing trip. That is the last concern anyone should have. We were as busy as we wanted to be and had lots of options.
While the sailboat is 50 feet long, it felt smaller than I expected. At first I was a little concerned about that, but if turned out to be perfectly sized for the 4 of us plus Judit and Ignacio. The cabins and beds were nice and comfortable with my wife and I sharing the "master cabin", with the kids each having their own cabin.
We spent very high quality time together as a family and with our new friends, Judit and Ignacio relaxing totally undistracted by electronics, which was FANTASTIC. The lack of reliable cell service and no internet access coupled with the size of the sailboat resulted in some great conversations, laughs and really reconnecting away from our very busy lives. I had the time to read a novel (first time in a long time!), and we had time to play games as a family and truly reconnect totally away from high-paced western society.
The snorkeling was FAR beyond what we have experienced in many other locations, with incredible coral formations, unbelievably vivid fish of all shapes and sizes including several rays, a broad array of starfish and even dolphin, amid tropical islands so beautiful and virtually free of people that we felt that we had gone back in time.
We loved the genuine inquisitive and positive attitude that Ignacio and Judit brought to our experience. A sense of friendship quickly developed with them that really added to our trip. They have been in San Blas for years and their relationships with the Kuna definitely enhanced our trip. We were greeted with warm welcomes and handshakes at every island we visited (all the islands are privately "owned" by the Kuna) when we arrived and identified ourselves as with "Captain Ignacio". We ate extremely well based on what Judit and Ignacio had brought aboard supplemented by Ignacio and Judit's fishing (trolling and spear fishing). Two particularly memorable meals included a lunch served on Morrodub (dub means island is Kuna) and a PHENOMENAL Galician octopus dish Ignacio and Judit prepared for us one night. Another highlight was a hike Judit organized for us in the mainland jungle up to a beautiful peak overlooking the islands and then down through a river and several sets of small falls that we swam through complete with a Kuna purification at the last falls. We were led by Lisa, an extremely well respected member of the Kuna society. She toured us up through a Kuna cemetery that was unique and quite interesting.
Lisa returned to our sailboat with us and we bought 2 stunning molas from her. She is a locally renown master mola maker (molas are fabric stitching that have replaced traditional abdominal and lower back tattoos that disappeared after the Spanish conquistadors arrived). The quality of what we bought from Lisa was so much higher than anything we saw in Panama City and far less expensive and we have a great personal connection with it given the time we spent with her.
Judit and Ignacio's relationships with the locals came in very handy on our last day. Unexpected protests occurred the afternoon before we were to leave San Blas and were due to run for 4 days and closed the ONLY road into our pick up point. Quick action from Judit with all her connections allowed us to get last minute arrangements made to get us from San Blas to Panama City for our return flight. Judit took care of everything quickly and it was no issue (other than a tough 3-hour ride in what was little more than a motorized canoe in the open ocean to get us around the road closure and out). Without the relationships that Judit and Ignacio have we could very well have been stuck for 3 days.
I looked at several possible charter options in the San Blas islands and am so happy we went with Pantalasa Charters. After speaking with others who have been to San Blas, I HIGHLY doubt you could get these same kind of experiences all organized with others.
If you want an exceptional vacation in a pristine location with people you will quickly consider friends, book a trip with Pantalasa Charters. You will NOT regret it.