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Playón Chico

Yandup Ocean Bungalow
The family-owned Yandup Island Lodge is located on a private island across from the remote Playon Chico community on the Caribbean coastline of San Blas, Panama. The eco-lodge offers two tours a day: a visit to a beach on one of the archipelago's deserted islands and a cultural tour that connects guests to the local Kuna Yala indian community.
Comarca Kuna Yala Fishermen
The Comarca Kuna Yala, also known as the San Blas Archipelago, is a remote group of nearly 400 islands strung along the Caribbean coast of north-eastern Panama. The Kuna Yala are a semi-autonomous Indian group who inhabit the area and most of their communities are only accessible by boat or plane. During our visit, it was not uncommon to see men paddling or sailing around the islands, searching for the best catch of the day.
Comarca Kuna Yala Fishermen Guna Yala  Panama

Colorful Molas
Molas are cut-out textiles that are sewn as reverse-appliqués and worn as panels over the blouses of traditional Kuna Yala women after they have reached puberty.

While staying at the Yandup Lodge in San Blas, we had the opportunity to watch molas being constructed and learned how many of the designs are inspired by nature as shown in the bird and triangular leaf patterns above.
Colorful Molas Guna Yala  Panama

Solar Panel Powered Yandup
Yandup Island Lodge is located on a private island off the Caribbean coastline of San Blas, Panama. The lodge's electricity is supplied by entirely by solar panels. The homes at Playon Chico, the village community an island away, are also powered by individual solar panels mounted on poles. This method is helpful in a remote area that is only accessible by plane or multi-hour boat ride.
Solar Panel Powered Yandup Guna Yala  Panama

Party with the Locals
The Kuna Islanders that inhabit the San Blas Islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama, near Colombia, are said to be a bit reserved and certainly camera shy. I did not find that to be the case on my visit to the islands. I found the Kuna to be outgoing and very sociable. Although the Kuna did not partake in my group's consumption of alcohol, they did join in on our festivities and volunteered to have their photo taken with our empty bottles. They were quite amused with the image of themselves on the back of my camera. In addition to sharing their islands, we were fortunate enough to eat locally caught seafood that they prepared and to purchase their handmade, vibrantly colored molas. Molas are colorful, knitted squares featuring abstract forms of nature and ideology. I believe the key to a positive experience with the Kuna is to interact and even contribute to their livelihood through purchasing food and handicrafts from them, instead of simply enjoying the islands and overlooking the people that have lived there for centuries.
Party with the Locals Guna Yala  Panama

Incredible Escape!
I studied abroad in Panama as a college student, and spent a weekend with a family in Kuna Yala. It was such an incredible experience to partake in a culture that was so different than my own and the islands are spectacular. When my family came to visit in June, I wanted to take them back to the area so we spent a weekend at the Yandup Island Lodge. It was hands down their favorite part of their visit to Panama. the cabins over the water are the definition of a relaxing island escape. We loved falling asleep to the sounds of the birds above us and the waves below us. The daily trips offer a chance to experience both the extraordinary culture of the Kuna People and the breathtaking beauty of their island comarca. Swimming on a deserted island made us feel like we were in the TV show Lost. The lodge serves delicious meals, but there are not many places to buy food and other items, so be sure to bring sunscreen, bug spray, and any snacks you want between meals. The best time of the year to visit Panama is in the winter months (the dry season) and early spring. I can't recommend this enough!

Playón Chico, Panama