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“Quiet and friendly place on a small island”

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Yandup Island Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 17, 2013

We had a hut overlooking the ocean. It was so romantic to lay in a hammock on our balcony hearing nothing but the sound of the waves.The rooms are basic but comfortable. The lack of luxury is in fact one of the assets of this place, it makes you feel close to nature. There are two excursions a day. We especially liked visiting the community. The staff is very friendly. The food was nice. We highly recommend this unique getaway.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank JAB2405
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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103 - 109 of 424 reviews

Reviewed November 17, 2013

I visited the Lodge with friends in early November. I didn't know what to expect as I hadn't booked the trip, so I was a little surprised by the accommodations, having just left the Trump Hotel in Panama City. The island home of the lodge is maybe the size of half a football field, with about 8 thatched huts around the periphery. The walls of the huts are literally sticks tied together providing no barrier between the wind and your bed or the sounds of the water beneath you, which you can see through the floor. The bathrooms are just walled off corners of the room, although complete with shower and toilet. There is no hot water. The electricity goes off around 3 am and stays off until first light. Every day the Lodge workers take you by boat to various destinations, either uninhabited islands, the community across the water, the farm by the airport, etc. On the beach trips, they bring coolers of beer and water. My friends and I asked the staff if we could go to our own island apart from the other guests and they agreed. Sitting on golden sand, watching the clouds, drinking a beer with my close friends was a once in a lifetime experience. In the afternoons I would nap in the hammocks hung outside the huts. The food is absolutely amazing. Anthony Bourdain should stop by this place. We had fresh lobster on our last day which you can buy for about 20$ per 2 lbs along with bottles of wine. Three days was the perfect amount of time to spend here and I was happy to get back to my luxuries but I really did enjoy my visit.

Stayed: November 2013, traveled with friends
3  Thank Karen M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 14, 2013

I love adventure and I must say I was sceptical at first in how much we would like Yandup. We loved it!!!

This place is the right balance between middle of no where and proper living conditional.

We stayed for 2 nights which most people do however I would recommend staying 3 nights and 3 days as you really appreciate everything San Blas Islands have to offer.

First day we did an island visit and road in a dinky boat with 6 feet high waves in the middle of the ocean with nothing in sight for miles, it was amazing!!! Get to the island it was paradise. We saw gorgeous massive Pelican, turtles, massive crabs and drank fresh Coconut Water. Then we come back ate lunch and then did a a trip to the nearby Kuna tribe village which was great to see, they are the second oldest tribe in Americas. Come back for dinner food was fresh fish and rice it was amazing caught that day! Great day one.

That night we meet some amazing people and we all talked about doing the Jungle expedition which is basically just over a half day trip... thank god we didn't we skipped the Jungle trip the group that went said it was the worst hike and they all came back tired miserable and muddy.

Instead we sleep an extra 30min (woke up at 7:30am) and went to the most beautiful island which was about a 30-40 minute boat ride and again in the dinky boat this time the waves were higher maybe 8 feet, kinda scary but amazing!! The pictures do not even do it justice.

We came back and connected with everyone that went to the Jungle and hung out I asked them to catch me lobster to eat that night as it was our last night and I wanted something special... I basically got a 2lb lobster fresh caught that day for $20! I could not believe it, I shared with the guys at dinner...

The room was gorgeous, they had power and running water. The island is clean and this was the highlight of our trip in Panama. I can't wait to go back and I would recommend this over anywhere else and if you can try to go with some friends.

1. Do 3 days
2. Don't do the Jungle trip
3. Spray bug spray there are alot of sand flies
4. Order Lobster
5. Enjoy Paradise!!!

Room Tip: We stayed in a hut on the water, its worth the extra $!!!
  • Stayed: December 2012, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank alionis-to
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 22, 2013

We loved everything about this wonderful and unique get away. Having grown up in Panama, this was a dream come true. The hosts were completely dedicated to our utmost happiness. We were there in November, and had almost the entire island to ourselves.

We were taken snorkeling, upriver to see the jungle, and to the community, where we truly enjoyed ourselves. Our guide had excellent English and Spanish and we got to see a little more than the usual guests, since there were only three of us.

The food was fantastic, and brought in just out of the nets and on the boat that day. The little lagoon was delightful with crab (for dinner) and a sea turtle (for conservancy). We did witness some outstanding ocean storms, complete with lightning, thunder, and rain, rain, rain, but were completely comfortable at all times. We played cards in the wonderful dining area and were kept full of coffee.

We will definitely go back. The paradise of the San Blas Islands is best right here at Yandup Island Lodge.

Room Tip: We were very close to the cooking and dining area. Convenient.
  • Stayed: November 2012, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank jillawilla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2013

This is a very relaxing place to recharge your energies.
As soon as you arrive with the Air Panama adventurous flight you understand this is a place where tourism industry doesn't have a chance to spoil the experience. It's just pure nature and very welcoming local indian community. This is an autonomous area in Panama, meaning they have their own laws and live out of the land, planting their own food and selling coconuts.
Yandup has comfortable rooms made with their own kind of architecture of tree leafs, which is much better than concrete houses that are hotter.
They don't have air conditioner but there's no need, cause you can feel the breeze coming from the sea.
It's based on a very small island with 10 chalets. I stayed in the ones over the sea and I definitely recommend this ones cause you hear the sound of the waves when you go to sleep.
The only issue for me is that we follow their itinerary of food, not having much option to decide to eat later. Breakfast is at 7:30/08:00, lunch at 13:00 and dinner at 19:00.
But you get used to it.
They offer daily excursions to other islands, rivers, community... But if you want stay at the hotel relaxing it's ok too, they have a small beach where you can stay reading for 6 hours and don't even feel time passing by.
The sunset there was amazing, with lots of birds flying by.
The sea water in amazing, super limpid and it's good for diving.
The staff was very kind and they're open to explain to you how the Kuna Yalas live.
I definitely recommend this place for a romantic trip or travelling with young children!!

  • Stayed: September 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank mvfalci
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2013 via mobile

We arrived at playon Chico airport and was met by Blanco and Louise, who helped us with our bags and took us to the lodge. It was so beautiful there, and we loved our little hut, primitive, but so nice and correct for a place like this. We got breakfast as soon as we arrived, which was more than enough food. The food in general was good and plenty, and quickly served. Frech seafood, straight from the sea, you could actually see it being delivered. Helpful and nice staff, interesting tours and nice beaches to visit. We where lucky to have other social guests to drink with and talk to in the evening. Enjoyed our stay, would definitely go back!

Thank you yandup family!

  • Stayed: August 2013
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1  Thank InaKristin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 8, 2013

I had seen an article in T&L about Yandup Island Lodge and on cross referencing with Tripadvisor, decided to book this trip. The price is fair, given that it includes room, food and tours. I have to admit that it did not live up to my expectations given the reviews, although it was still a nice 3 days of relaxation without having to plan anything. Please note, if you are going during the wet season, they will probably not take you on any hikes (due to "puddles").

The flight was uneventful in the ~ 19-20 person plane. Blanco and Domy met us at the airport and took us in the 10 minute boat ride to the island. We had an overwater cabin #6, which was what I had expected based on the pictures. Rustic, relatively comfortable beds, ceiling and floor fan, flourescent light over the bed, basic bathroom (with shampoo and soap), closet area with shelves and some hanging room. Breakfast was serving until 8:30AM - eggs with peppers, ham, bread (slightly stale) and coffee (with odd cream). Other days were simpler, with yogurt included. Unfortunately due to the weather (rain and wind), the morning tour was cancelled. We ended up canoeing around a little and relaxing until lunch at 1pm (fish). We left for the afternoon tour a little early and were able to see the mangroves, basic sealife and swim at a local island. Dinner (always at 6:30pm). was probably the best meal of our 3 day trip - seafood pasta, including crawfish and chocolate pudding. They usually provide fruit at one or two of the meals each day. They are very prompt with the meals, which usually last for 30 minutes, and then you are free to do whatever you like. We ended up hanging out in the dining area with other people staying on the island and had drinks - rum, beer, etc. and talked until ~ 10:30pm.

The next day was a snorkel day in the morning. We didn't bring snorkel gear, so rentals were $5 for snorkel mask and flippers or $3 for snorkel mask only. Luckily it was a sunny day and the water was nice on Iguana Island. We were able to see a lot of coral (very shallow) and different types of fish. Afterward we hung out on the island and swam a bit, before heading back for lunch. We had a nice nap, and headed out for the 4pm tour of the village. It was interesting seeing the village, although depressing, seeing all the trash (both in the village and washing up shore on the islands). There were all very nice and didn't seem to be pushy about buying things or taking pictures. Dinner was uneventful and it was an early night.

For the last day we went snorkeling, but to the same island because the one they were planning on taking us to had too many mosquitos and insects. We did see a dolphin on our way out, though. The snorkeling wasn't as good since it was overcast and ready to storm. We went off by ourselves and got stuck in the reefs when trying to get back before the thunderstorms. That afternoon we went to the river and saw some birds. Dinner was decent.

We left the island at 6:10AM the next day, got on our flight around 7AM, made a couple stops along San Blas (dropping off people and cargo, as well as picking up a few others) and made it back to Panama City around 8AM.

I agree with what most people said in their reviews. 3 days was enough time on the island, given that the food and tours recycle, so unless you don't mind doing and eating the same thing, there's not reason to stay longer. There aren't any mosquitos on the island (no Mangrove trees), but there are sand flies which seem to bite certain people. I'm not sure how much the insect repellent helped me, as I got bitten and it was itchy, but they went away after about a week. Bring hydrocortisone cream for the itch. The food gets monotonous after awhile and at first didn't seem like it was enough. I think my stomach shrunk after a day, though, so it wasn't so bad, but still, try to bring snacks. They haven't built the bar yet, so you can get drinks during dinner - $2 domestic bottle/can of beer, $20 for Abuelo rum 750mL, $21 bottle of wine, but you can bring your own. The shower pressure was at times felt like trying to take a shower during a light rain. There was one afternoon that they were not able to have any water, but fixed it within a few hours. Bring a beach towel, a book, and a flash light (it gets dark once the sun sets at 6pm).

The things that weren't mentioned: sometimes the power goes out in the middle of the night, which means no fan and very hot and humid rooms while sleeping. During the afternoon trips to the mangroves, village, and river there was some explanation about the environment and history, but it seemed very basic and sometimes the facts were inaccurate. It didn't seem like the guides were very knowledgeable, just fed some facts to give to us. Also, if there are mostly Spanish speakers on the island, the guides stop speaking English (as if they have forgotten how) and you end up needing someone else to translate for you. Luckily the other people during our trip were very nice and were able to explain things to us.

Pros: Very relaxing, no need to plan anything, nice snorkeling, quaint rooms
Cons: somewhat bland food, itchy sand fly bites, inexperience tour guides, limited types of tours (especially related to weather), poor water pressure

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank ltsao01
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

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 29 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range: $120 - $210 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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