Panama’s enchanting Guna Yala islands are welcoming tourists

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The wide diversity in ecosystems, climates, coasts and cultures that can be found in Panama’s relatively small territory make it a great place to visit because one can do so much without traveling very far at all. About a quarter of the country’s coastline, from the Colón province down to Colombia, is an independent indigenous ‘comarca’ (or reserve) called Guna Yala. Accessible for day trips by air or land from Panama City, its 365 pristine islands also lure travelers to stay overnight.

Dog Island, or Isla Perro, is a popular tourist spot in the San Blas islands of Guna Yala.

Dog Island, or Isla Perro, is a popular tourist spot in the San Blas islands of Guna Yala.

It’s important to remember, however that here, the Guna people are in charge. A good-natured and artistically-inclined people, they inhabit the San Blas islands where they welcome tourists and make the ‘mola’ a hand appliqué design distinctive to this region. These creations make excellent keepsakes.

Visiting the islands is easy through a travel agent or tour operator who will see that the desires of travelers are met. Options include scuba and snorkeling, boating, beach combing and even culturally-conscious visits to the inhabited islands to interact with this admirable civilization that stands firm in its mission to maintain their peaceful and ancient way of life.

By far the top attraction here are the warm turquoise waters, rich in schools of colorful fish and sea stars. The ‘mola’ is worn by Guna women on the front and back of their traditional blouses. Full of beautiful and colorful design, it is known the world over and is one of the most emblematic symbols representing Panama.

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