Beautiful island archipelago with vibrant indigenous communities
The San Blas Islands are a rare breed - it's easy enough to find an idyllic island where you can live out your deserted island reveries and swashbuckling fantasies, but it usually bears no reminder of the past. But the politically autonomous Kuna Indians inhabit some of the nearly 400 islands in the San Blas archipelago - understanding the threats of tourism on an area, they've enacted strict laws to protect their land and culture, to mixed effect. Though the Kuna are constantly grappling with identity, their unique culture has so far been preserved, and tourists can arrange to visit some of these communities while in the area.
But of course, one of the main highlights of San Blas is its sheer beauty. Palm-fringed and white sands seems to be the theme here, along with the clear blue waters of the Caribbean. Mangroves, waterfalls, and reefs are only a few of the many natural wonders to see here. Though the word is out, there will still be far fewer tourists in San Blas than in Bocas del Toro, and it's still pretty easy to find your own little slice of isolation.