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“Yandup (Heaven) and Panama Air (Hell)”

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Yandup Island Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Newark, New Jersey
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Yandup (Heaven) and Panama Air (Hell)”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 21, 2013

We just spent 3 beautiful days at Yandup. I agree with all the positive review and won't bother repeating all the special things about this island. One thing I don't think has been mentioned much is how beautiful the snorkeling is right off the beach at Yandup. The bugs were minimal and the lizards in the bathroom plentiful which was fun.

The problem is that the only way to get to and from Yandup is Panama Air. Eleven of us left Yandup at 6:15 a.m. to catch our flight. We were there for an hour or two and then were told the plane was being repaired. At one point we were told the plane was taking off in 10 minutes (and flight time is 50 minutes). Two hours later there was still no plane. THis kept going on and on. Perhaps if Panama Air had better communications we could have waited at Yandup. As it was we spent 6 1/2 hours at the airport - which is the landing strip and a little hut. Part of the problem is that this seems to be the norm. So, make sure you're willing to deal with this major headache if you plan on coming to Yandup.

Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
Helpful?
4 Thank ggfcress
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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407 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (79)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
136 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 89 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 8, 2013

This may be my favorite vacation memory of my life. Imagine having an uninhabited island all to yourself for a day, and then going back to a simple room, dining on fresh lobster, and falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.

Getting there is a little rugged. If you prefer the unadventurous consistency of Sheraton hotels, then this will not be your cup of tea. But if you like the idea of escaping the modern world for a while, then this is something truly special you need to see with your own eyes.

When you step off the plan into a world untouched by t-shirt shops or high-rise hotels; when you step into the canoe and watch the small island come into view; when you step inside your private bungalow.. when you experience all that, you will let out a deep exhale and then take a long relaxed breath and feel something that will last well after you have returned home.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Ian J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago
Level Contributor
17 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 1, 2013

I read all of the reviews before I booked this island resort for 6 adults. I was nervous about Air Panama and there was some confusion with Yandup lodge who booked the flights for us. The flight, however took off on time and we were warmly greeted at Playon Chico airport. We spent 3 days on the island. All of us had over water cabins which we loved. Ours was #10 which we thought was the best because it was a bit more private, larger, and caught the breezes. I would not hesitate to get a land cabin in the future because they got the breezes and more of the wonderful sound of the waves.
The excursions were a lot of fun. The beaches were beautiful for swimming and snorkeling. The afternoon excursions were also interesting: a village visit, mangroves, and Kuna cemetery. For us the mangroves were a disappointment. We didn't see any wildlife. The saving feature of this outing was a stop at an inlet where we saw starfish, sea cucumber, conch, sea urchins, etc.
The meals were all well prepared and delicious: lots of seafood, rice and potatoes. The supply boat arrived one day and we were served fruit and vegetables that day. We had plenty to eat.
We brought a couple of bottles of wine and had cocktails on our cottage's deck.
The staff was friendly and efficient. One of our highlights was a pick up volleyball game with the Kuna women. One of the staff showed my husband how to blow the conch shell which takes the place of a clock on the island.
Our experience was a very positive one. I do have some "heads up" notes for future travelers.
There are sand fleas or no-see-ums: of the 6 of us, 4 were fine and the other 2 were bitten all over their bodies (spray didn't help). There is nothing to do after dinner, but we found that everyone was so friendly we all sat around after dinner to talk. Air Panama! 10 of us were scheduled to depart at 7a.m. 4 people made it on the plane. The Yandup staff were awesome. They took me into town to use the only phone to call our guide waiting for us in Panama City and then he took us back to Yandup for breakfast. We caught a second plane 2 hours later. This plane had seating for 8 people and was so small my husband's head hit the ceiling. It was a bit scary! (Friends of ours took the flight out the next day and it took 3 flights to get them all to PC)
Summary. This is a peaceful, wonderful place!

Room Tip: #10 over the water for size, location and breeze. (It had 1 double and 3 single beds: great for a fa...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
5 Thank rpowell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Leimen, Germany
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 13, 2013

When planning a trip to San Blas , it is important that you realize you may get a seat on a plane however, you may not get accommodations because there simply are not a lot places to stay on some of these Islands. This is what happened in our case, when flying to Playon Chico, San Blas. We could only stay one night at the Yandup Lodge because they were booked out for the other nights. Yandup, is by the way, absolutely fantastic. I can't wait to go back. I just wished we couLd have stayed longer. However, the owners , David and his family were so helpful and got us a place in the Indian village of Playon Chico. We stayed with " Lucio" , who was extremely kind and helpful. If you want to experience more of the village and stay with Lucio, just ask for him when you land on the island. There is only one "Lucio" so you should be able to find him. They do not have internet or phones yet, but apparently, the island will be soon getting both. Lucio charges 15$ a night. The other lodges are not any good, so make sure you stay at Yandup, if you end up flying to Playon.
.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Luv4travel9093
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fitchburg, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
105 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 12, 2013

Relax, that's the number one thing to do here, and my favorite place to do that was in the hammock. I admit I was having tech withdrawals at first, but got over it soon enough.
The island was lovely and the sound of the waves breaking under our cabana was soothing. I loved the fresh seafood and they surprised us with lobster, crab, octopus, squid and assorted other fish. I though it was cooked well and the vegetables were yummy.
The women who serve the meals are fun, efficient and friendly.
We, my 2 friends and I, loved the little trips we took to the cemetery, village and other islands. I saw a pileated woodpecker on the way to the cemetery, which was very exciting for me.
We thought that 3 nights was a perfect amount of time to spend there. Our flights were pretty much on time.
We will have great memories to share.

Room Tip: We loved being over the water but I think all the rooms were probably good.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank RThomas5586
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Princeton, New Jersey
Level Contributor
48 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 3, 2013

You need to go with an open mind. While we have never stayed at an all inclusive before, this one was worth it. Three meals a day and two excursions, not bad for the price. The service was terrific, the meals were good, not great, however we didn't go hungery. Any concern about needing something inbetween meals, for us, was unwarranted. There was beer and wine for purchase; water, juice (and coffee for breakfast) was included with each serving. The rooms were perfect. We had an over-the-water cabin and were very happy. It had a queen and two single beds, each with a misquito net. The porch/deck had a couple of hammocks and a single chair, perfect for having a beer while listening to some Bob Marley / Jimmy Buffet / Mana / Santana etc. tunes while swinging in the breeze. The excursions were fantastic - two boat rides a day- beach and snorkeling in the morning (9:30 - 12:00) back for lunch and then a shorter excursion in the afternoon ( communtiy trip, mangrove, cemetary tour, others). The mangrove tour, for us, was the best, very informative and fun. The cemetary tour was also good, but be warned, make sure you bring long pants, long shirts, closed shoes (and they tell you that ahead of time) - the bugs are more plentaful than the dead! and they are hungrey! We skipped the community tour as we were not interested in purchasing anything as that seemed to be the mission of that excursion. The plane ride to Playon Chico should also be part of this review, it is not to be minimized. Small prop plane, maybe 26 seats, curtain between the pilots and the passengers, we were able to see the instruments on the "dash board" the entire trip back. The pilot was as close to us as a passenger in the seat two rows in front of another in a typical coach seat on an airline in the US.

We are very glad we had this chance to go, our recommendation is go toward the end of your trip, be sure you had some time in the sun before you go as you will not be able to avoid it once you are there. No worries if you don't speak spanish - lots of english spoken there.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank juno80503
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Valley Cottage, New York
Level Contributor
25 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 2, 2013

Yandup is as beautiful as everyone says, a small simple island surrounded by turquoise blue water. The huts on stilts on the water are amazing, and the view from the hammock on the private deck, heavenly. One day I watched a Kuna man in a dug out canoe and his little boy, fish for our dinner right outside my room, using nothing more than a line. Lots and lots of photo opportunities, nice trips to neighboring deserted islands perfect for lounging but not the best for snorkeling, cultural tours are ok, the cemetery on the hill especially interesting but visit to the "village" can be depressing--it's an overcrowded, poor community with too many kids running wild and unsupervised. It's embarrassing to be a tourist here and sad that our visits are their only source of income. You will be followed through the streets, kids tugging on your shirtsleeves for handouts, natives charging to get their pictures taken and everyone trying to sell you molas. The native dance was a bunch of kids in western clothes jumping up and down playing the pan pipes. While the food is fresh and served with kindness by kuna ladies in their native garb, the portions are very small. After dinner everyone goes back to their little huts and you don't see a soul on the island. Either go with a group of friends or someone you like a lot. They are in the process of building a bar on the water which might help. I went as a solo traveler and felt isolated and lonely. 3 days was more than enough.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Juliespeak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Yandup Island Lodge

Property: Yandup Island Lodge
Address: Playon Chico | Kuna Yala, 0838, Panama
Phone Number:
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Amenities:
Beach Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 28 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Yandup Island Lodge 2.5*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
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 be treated as kings and queens in one of our six lovely and comfortable cabins in front of the sea. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Yandup Island Hotel San Blas Islands

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