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Cays and Bays: Exploring the San Blas Islands by luxury yacht

7 November 2017 • Written by Captain Bernard Calot

A chain of approximately 400 islands, the San Blas archipelago consists of predominantly football field-sized cays covered with palm trees and ringed with pearl-bright beaches and coral reefs. This itinerary, by Bernard Calot, former skipper of Crescent Custom Yachts 36.88 metre Olga, combines idyllic anchorages, uninhabited islands and sensational snorkeling.

Day 1: Portobelo

Portobello, Panama. Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Cris Jaeg.

Meet your yacht at Shelter Bay Marina, by the entrance to the Panama Canal. Settle in on board as you make your way towards the former Spanish port of Portobelo. Walk the streets where mules once carried Peruvian gold via the town’s fortress and take in the atmospheric ruins.

Day 2: Isla El Porvenir

Isla El Porvenir, Panama. Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Alvaro Alonso Gomez.

Enjoy a four hour cruise to Isla El Porvenir on the western side of San Blas. Your crew will handle all the paperwork while you enjoy the yacht’s water toys or stroll around the small settlement.

Day 3: Kuna Village

A traditional hut in an indigenous village in Panama. Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Globe Guide Media Inc.

Discover the true culture of the San Blas islands with a half hour tender ride to a traditional Kuna village to learn about the culture and see some molas, the delicately embroidered outfits of Kuna women.

Day 4: Chichime Cay

Chichime Cay. Picture courtesy of Flikr.com / Sailing Nomad.

Make the short cruise to Chichime cay, a picture-perfect atoll with a pristine white beach and great snorkeling. Channel your inner hunter-gatherer and try to catch giant stone crabs or simply enjoy a sundowner on the beach.

Day 5: Cayos Holandeses

San Blas Islands (stock image). Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Alessandra Rusticali.

Continue to Cayos Holandeses, (Dutch Cays), which are some of the most secluded in the region. Snorkel on the coral reefs or head to one of the four uninhabited islands for your own Robinson Crusoe adventure.

Day 6: Puyadas Cay

Stunning cays in the San Blas Islands (stock image). Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / Jordan Adkins.

The next morning, find your yacht anchored in an idyllic spot in Puyadas Cay. Fish for tuna, sailfish, mahi mahi and marlin – plentiful in the San Blas as the islands are in their migration path. In the evening enjoy a picnic or paella cooked on the beach.

Day 7: Shelter Bay Marina

The Panama Canal. Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com / dani3315

Wake to find yourself back in Shelter Bay Marina. Either say farewell to your crew and drive to Tocumen International Airport in Panama City or stay on board for the Panama Canal transit.

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