Coco Banderas Cays

This group of Islands (Coco Banderas) is among the most scenic and beautiful spots in all of San Blas , if not the world. They are situated behind a four-mile long protective barrier reef. Each is fringed with white sand beaches, towering palm trees, and crystal clear waters. It was in these islands that we chose to make our abode for the first three nights in San Blas. We dropped anchor just south of Tiadup and just north of Olosicuidup.

The front page of the Panama Cruising guide showing Coco Banderas Cays

The front page of the Panama Cruising guide showing Coco Banderas Cays

A larger view from the cruising guide

A larger view from the cruising guide

Our days were blissfully passed in this tropical paradise. The scenery brought to mind what one might think of when he thinks of an isolated South Pacific isle, although we are not in the South Pacific, but in the southwestern Caribbean Sea. Each of our mornings were spent on board Beatitude relaxing, reading, and listening to music. After brunch, we explored, swam and snorkeled. On the second afternoon, Cindy and I kayaked over to three of the islands which make up Coco Banderas: Olosicuidup, Dupwala, and Guariadup. Two of the three are completely uninhabited, while the other seems to have a Guna family or two which lives upon the palm-studded jewel. We circumambulated each island in a short time, enjoying the soft white sandy beaches. We snorkeled for a while off of Olosicuidup before returning to Beatitude. Fortunately, some Guna indians made their way to our vessel once again to sell us $5.00 lobsters, of which we cheerfully took four. Actually, the fourth one didn’t cost us $5.00, but a couple of cervezas, which they were very happy to receive in trade.

Exploring the Coco Banderas Cays by Kayak

Exploring the Coco Banderas Cays by Kayak

Feet in the sand of Olosicuidup

Feet in the sand of Olosicuidup

Our anchorage, Tiadup, and Beatitude from Olosicuidup

Our anchorage, Tiadup, and Beatitude from Olosicuidup

Ominous skies approach Coco Banderas

Ominous skies approach Coco Banderas

My beauty surrounded by the beauty of Dupwala

My beauty surrounded by the beauty of Dupwala

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Olosicuidup with Beatitude to the right

Olosicuidup with Beatitude to the right

Sitting on Guariadup

Sitting on Guariadup

More tropical paradise

More tropical paradise

Crab on a fallen palm

Crab on a fallen palm

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Swimming behind our home

Swimming behind our home

Guna in an Ulu

Guna in an Ulu

Happy Trade:  Beer for Lobster

Happy Trade: Beer for Lobster

Lobster!

Lobster!

On the third afternoon, Cindy chose to practice her artistry in the cockpit while I went off exploring on my own. Two Islands lie some distance off to the southeast: Dainyadup and Gorgidup. I hopped in the kayak and began paddling the almost one-mile distance from our vessel to Dainyadup, the southernmost of the two islands. I was surprised as I neared the shore to find a small Guna hut on the northwest corner of the island. Two children were fishing from the beach, one, a young boy about the age of 9, and the other, a young girl about the age of 15. I could tell they were a little uncomfortable talking with me, a stranger, but they did say they lived on the island. Wow! What beautiful scenery surrounded their home on a gorgeous tropical island which they had all to themselves. In Guna Yala, no one owns land, so it is not β€œtheir” island. It belongs to the entire tribe, or so I am told. But, in a practical sense, it clearly was theirs to enjoy. After walking around this gem of a cay, I kayaked over to the northernmost island of the two, Gorgidup. I, once again, walked along the sandy beach around this island in just a few minutes, although at one point, I had to get down on my hands and knees and crawl along the sand and shallow water, making my way through some mangroves to complete my journey. This island had no inhabitants so there was no one to commune with but with nature alone and its Almighty Maker. I had brought my snorkeling equipment with me and noticed what appeared to be some promising coral beneath my kayak on the journey over. So, I donned my gear and waded into the warm waters surrounding the island. The snorkeling was superb with numerous kinds of coral serving as home to an abundance of reef fish.

Kayaking to Dainyadup

Kayaking to Dainyadup

A little over one mile away to Dainyadup

A little over one mile away to Dainyadup

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Two children and their Guna home

Two children and their Guna home

Tuna children fishing on Dainyadup

Tuna children fishing on Dainyadup

The interior of one of the islands

The interior of one of the islands

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Caution: Artist at work

Caution: Artist at work

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Cindy was considering the possibility of bringing the dinghy over for my rescue when she spotted our orange kayak traversing the one-mile distance from Gorgidup back to Beatitude. Not only had I enjoyed the grandeur of which dreams are made, I was able to get a good upper body workout in the process. And, the Lord knows I need it, life aboard has been unkind to my body. I enjoy the food way too much as we travel. On this third day, we made pizza crust with our bread machine for lunch (It was very good!) and grilled burgers for dinner. This would be our last night in the Coco Banderas Cays. The next day, we’d find some other beautiful island at which to anchor and explore.

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12 thoughts on “Coco Banderas Cays

  1. WOW! Love your pictures! What a paradise! Love the clear blue water, beautiful skies and islands! So happy you guys are enjoying yourselves! Thanks for sharing and letting us be a part of your adventures! Love you guys!

  2. Probably the best cruise I’ve even been on…and you guys are paying for it. Thank you!! Actually being there (and eating the lobster) is the only thing that could make it better. Always watch the weather, don’t take chances, stay on island time and enjoy each moment.

  3. Jus LOVE the quietness of those islands. Kind of reminds me of discovering St. John, USVI some 45 plus years ago. Keep posting !!!!

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