My boyfriend and I stayed on Coco Blanco for 2 days and 1 night, traveling with his mom and sister. We got to San Blas driving from Panama City, it was about a 2 hour drive or so. Be warned that you do go over a mountain for about an hour, so there are a lot of ups and downs and sharp turns. You definitley need an SUV, and if someone is especially prone to bad car sickness you might want to fly instead. Also, a working knowledge of Spanish is necessary as no one is really fluent in english.
Once we got to San Blas, we met our guide, Roberto, and we took off for Coco Blanco in a small motor boat. The trip to the island took about 15-20 minutes by boat. The island is small, and half of the island is owned by Roberto's family while the other half is owned by other Kuna families. They told us that if we go to the other side of the island the Kuna there might charge us to take pictures and one of them kind of gave us a mean look when we got close, so we didn't really want to trespass on their property. Once we got there we were warmly welcomed by Roberto's wife and showed us our cabanas/palapas. Our palapa had one larger bed and a smaller twin bed, another two palapas had three beds, and I believe there was one palapa in the back that could accomodate 8 people, but I never looked in it and it was behind the others. This place is the bare essentials, and it was wonderful. There is running water, though with limited water pressure, a toilet that flushes to a septic tank, and the electricity is turned on around sundown, though each room only had one bulb. The beds were ok, they had a simple sheet and pillows. Nothing like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste is provided so bring your own. They do provide towels though. At night you got to hear the waves, though it was very hot.
The food was delicious, you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our dinner the first night was fresh lobster, rice, potatoes, and carrots, with fruit for dessert. My boyfriend is a picky eater so they made him fried fish. The other couple staying on the island with us had two young children, and they made them hot dogs. Breakfast the next morning was ok, I asked for eggs and only got one egg which is a little sparse, and others got sausage that was ok but they didn't give enough to feed 4 people, as well as so-so arrapas. Our lunch was an octopus stew with rice, it was also good. They charge you for all drinks, like a can of soda is around 1.50, or a beer or glass of wine is 2.50, so I strongly recommend bringing your own bottle of wine or so, or some liquor, because it is wonderful to sit on the beach, after dinner in the dark, relaxing over wine. They also charge you $1 for a coconut. Also, bring snacks because swimming can make you hungry and there are no snacks between meals, which can sometimes be a long stretch, just make sure you don't leave them in your room opened you will get ants. The palapas also had some small lizards, (tiny geckos), they want nothing to do with people and run if you get close, but if someone is deathly deathly afraid of stuff like this it might not be pleasant.
The highlight for us was snorkeling! All of the islands were filled with nothing but white sand, clear, warm waters and coral reef. Roberto took us out over the corals and showed us baby lobsters and starfish. They have snorkeling gear for you to use, and the water is shallow so if you dont want to really snorkel you can just walk out to the coral. I would recommend water shoes if you dont really want to swim, and if you have kids, there are crabs on the beach that pinch. Our second day, we went to dog island (la isla de perro). This is a must see! They have a 1930's shipwreck that you can snorkel too (its not in deep water, close to the beach), and Roberto shows you all the different coral and fish in electric colors. He said you can see dolphins early enough in the day. Afterwards, we went to starfish island, which is really more of a sandbar but has a lot of starfish.
On our way back to the mainland, we stopped at one of the main Kuna islands and got to walk through the streets of the village to the Musuem of Kuna Culture. A historian gave us a history of their people that was very interesting. Roberto told us that some Kuna might charge for pictures, so you might just want to be discreet and not take pictures of people, but the kids didn't care and they were very cute to interact with.
Other reviews said the weather was bad, but in general its better to go during the rainy season which is roughly April to December (and we had only sunshine), because during the dry season the winds are stronger which makes the waves higher, so the ride out to the island might be more unpleasant.
Overall, Roberto and his family were very welcoming and hospitable and loved to talk about their people, history, and island. Roberto really went out of his way to take you to the different islands and show you different stuff, and he's very attentive like if you need something from the cooler when you're on a different island he will run to the boat and get it for you. My only regret is that I should have reapplied my sunscreen, and that we should have stayed at least 2 nights.
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- Also Known As:
- Cabanas Coco Blanco Hotel San Blas Islands