When you close your eyes and think about your ideal honeymoon location, what do you see? Does your imagination conjure images of long white unspoiled sandy beaches dotted with palm trees, and a warm Caribbean breeze blowing in from a crystal clear aquamarine ocean just begging you to snorkel or dive down to its reefs? Do you see sailboats anchored offshore while you sip umbrella-laden fruity drinks in tandem with the person you’ve just committed to spending the rest of your life with? If any of that sounds like what you have in mind, we have four words for you: San Blas Islands, Panama (a.k.a. Guna Yala).
The point of a honeymoon is to celebrate your union together with your new consort, uninterrupted. Comprised of more than 300 islands scattered between Panama and Columbia, travelling to San Blas is almost like travelling back to a much simpler time in history. The only other people you are likely to encounter during your stay there are hosts of the islands, the indigenous Kuna Indians, who have remained on the islands since the Spanish conquistadors conquered the mainland in the 1500’s. Cell phone reception is dodgy at best, so you won’t have to worry about pesky calls coming in while you bask in the warmth of the Caribbean.
Where to stay
Now, full disclosure up front: There are no luxury 5-star accommodations in San Blas. What there are, however, are empty beaches you will most likely have entirely to yourself, bungalow-type quarters (with air-con), unrivalled scuba diving, and the option to sip wine while watching a romantic sunset from the bow of an immaculate sailboat while you hop from island to island.
Where to eat
Because the islands are so unpopulated and relatively remote, there are no major restaurants to speak of. Instead, most accommodations provide all-inclusive meals with your stay. Your meals will typically consist of locally caught fresh fish, crab, or lobster and vegetable sides including potatoes, carrots, yucca, onions, and tomatoes. You will notice a distinct absence of most western foods. There are smaller cafes and shops strewn throughout the islands, however, if you fancy a change of pace for your palette.
And speaking of a change of pace, if you’d like to island hop during your stay in San Blas local boatmen can be hired as your water taxis. There is also the option to book a mobile honeymoon with a boat service that ferries you from island to island for the duration of your stay, like this one.
Unlike most commercial honeymoon destinations, San Blas won’t have you still paying for your honeymoon into your golden years. In fact, your money is almost certain to go much further in this Panamanian dreamscape than many other places you might be considering. FYI, Panama recognises two currencies interchangeably: The US Dollar and the Panamanian Balboa. All denominations of each are accepted anywhere within the country, but US dollars are needed for a stay in San Blas. There are no ATM’s so be sure to bring plenty of cash with you to cover your incidentals.
The San Blas Islands are very much off the beaten path, so there won’t be herds of tourists interfering with your honeymoon or ruining perfect photo opportunities. Finding a relaxing, secluded, and romantic atmosphere there is as simple as opening the door of your bungalow.