Does your ideal vacation entail roughing it a bit in order to achieve the most authentic experience possible? Yandup Island Lodge in San Blas is for those looking to “get off the grid” and completely unplug – no TV, no cell, no internet – just white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and rich cultural experiences with the Kuna people. Yandup is a family-owned island lodge near the Playon Chico community in Kuna Yala. This small island paradise allows a rare glimpse into the Kuna culture, a culture that has survived through time by keeping autonomy over their land, waters, and people. For this reason, the Kuna’s surrounding forests and islands are nearly virgin and their culture coloured. Yandup Island Lodge offers guests a unique, once in a lifetime experience by combining culture immersion tours with the Kuna people along with opportunities enjoy the beautiful waters, islands, and forests of the San Blas region.
To arrive to Playon Chico, you will take a short 45-minute flight from Panama City, where you will be greeted by Yandup and taken to their island lodge. The lodge has six over-the-water bungalows and four seafront cabins constructed with wooden floors and thatched roofs. Both the bungalows and cabins are equipped with the basic necessities – private bathroom (a luxury for this island life), double or single beds with orthopedic mattresses, mosquito nets, ceiling fans, 24-hour electricity powered by solar panels, hammocks and a 360° balcony with incredible views. All your meals are included with your stay and are simple, fresh, and delicious. For breakfast you’ll have coffee or tea, eggs, and bread. For lunch and dinner, you’ll dine on fresh seafood, rice, potatoes, vegetables and plantain. The Kuna people do not mass farm their beautiful lands and only take what they need from the forests and ocean. Anything extra found at the lodge is, therefore, flown in from Panama City. Fresh produce, beers, wine, and water are brought especially to Yandup Lodge for guests’ enjoyment (alcohol is an additional cost).
The Yandup Lodge’s schedule is straightforward. During the days you can stay back on the island and snorkel the reef, lounge on the beach, canoe in traditional Kuna hand-carved canoes, practice traditional Kuna fishing, or enjoy a book in your hammock. Otherwise, in the mornings, you can partake in a snorkeling excursion while visiting nearby, pristine islands or enjoy a waterfall hike. Return for lunch at Yandup Lodge when you can decide whether you’d like to venture out again for an afternoon tour. In the afternoon there are optional cultural experiences with the Kuna people where you can learn more about their history, daily lives, mola craft, and traditional practices. There is also a forest hike or traditional cemetery walk through. At the end of the day, enjoy dinner with fellow international guests and share your experiences of the Kuna people and their beautiful lands and sea.
- Located on a private island in the Kuna Yala Reserve, a 45-minute flight from Panama City
- 6 over the water bungalows and 4 cabins
- Each bungalow/cabin comes with ceiling fan, private bathroom, and 24-hour electricity
- Fresh drinking water is available at the lodge’s restaurant and it’s recommended to bring a reusable bottle to refill
- All meals (simple yet fresh) are included with your stay
- Beer and wine is available for purchase
- Daily half-day tours in the morning to explore nearby islands and reef for snorkeling
- Daily half-day tours in the afternoon to visit Kuna people, forest, or cemetery
- Travel+Leisure Hotel
- *During dry season months, water pressure is low for showering
- *No A/C, internet, cell, TV – just you and paradise!
- *Fresh seafood is the main dish and vegetarian options are available. Please let us know prior to travel of lobster requests
- *Yandup Island Lodge is not for everyone and is what we call a “National Geographic Experience”. It is not a luxury hotel by most standards but is luxury in comparison to surrounding lodges and Kuna life where there are no toilets, electricity, alcoholic beverage purchases, etc.