Of all the experiences I’ve had on my travels around the world, sailing from Colombia to Panama has to be one of the best.
It is the perfect mix of adventure, excitement and paradise and something that every backpacker should enjoy at some point during their time on the road.
Sailing from Colombia to Panama: The Adventure of a Lifetime
I stumbled across the idea when I was backpacking in South America. I’d heard whispers that it was possible but it was only when I reached Colombia that I realised it could be a reality. After doing some research in Bogota it became clear that finding a good captain and boat was key and so motored up to Cartagena to find the right man for the job. There are adverts plastered around all the hostels so it’s just a matter of asking around and seeing which are reputable and which to avoid.
Then it’s time to hop on board for a 5 day sail into your wildest paradise island dream!
After leaving Cartagena the first two days are spent all at sea, with nothing but the dolphins to keep you company. If ever there was a Robinson Crusoe moment for me on my travels it was having ten dolphins dipping and diving in front of our boat and then looking around with no hint of land anywhere to be seen. MAGIC.
After two days you reach the San Blas Islands, a collection of idyllic paradise islands, some of which are only 10ft by 10ft and have only one palm tree to call their own. By this point you’ll probably be ready to step on some dry land and give your stomach a rest, but it’s worth every second of the rocky journey!
Most captains stay at the islands for two days, allowing you to snorkel with the incredible sea life, relax on your very own island and soak up the Caribbean sun. There can’t be many places in the world where you can have an island to yourself and stare out into crystal clear waters without a care in the world. Eat fish tacos, sway in a hammock, stare into the distance; it doesn’t get boring!
Eventually it has to come to an end though and it’s another day’s sail from the San Blas to reach the shores of Panama. You’re left at Portobello, a small fishing town which is a few hours bus ride to Panama City. You’ll be ready for a good sleep by that point, and when you wake up in Panama City you’ll be asking yourself whether any of it happened at all.
If you’re looking for a unique travel experience that you thought was saved for the movies then this is the one for you.