May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

The Trip-Finder, January 1999
Exploring the San Blas Islands
Outfitter Price Accommodations
Mountain Travel-Sobek
888-687-6235, www.mtso
$2,590 camping, rustic lodging

The Route: A 15-day, 80-mile sea-kayaking excursion from Isla Tigre to Kuanidup in the barrier islands that are home to Panama's Kuna nation. You'll swim the coral reef, snorkel with rays and porpoises, and sleep in Kuna-built cabins.

When to go: January through March

Difficulty: Moderate

Travel advisory: Some sea-kayaking experience is required, though a training session precedes the first day. If the rain and wind kick up, a three-hour paddle can easily become six.

High/low points:

  • Partaking in the fermented-coconut-and-rum-fueled revelry of the annual Kuna girls' coming-of-age ceremony on the island or Rio Sidra — if you're a woman, that is.
  • Lighting out to explore one of the islands you're camped on, only to find it's a mere half-acre in size.

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