Equator Gringos

February 9, 2009

San Blas Islands, Panama

Filed under: Ecuador — lstollin @ 7:59 pm

 resized-Panama San Blas 28-Dec 08 We’ve been remiss not getting this post up since we got back from Christmas Break…  We discovered possibly the most idyllic place we’ve ever been – Franklin’s Island, Panama in the San Blas Archipelago in the Caribbean Sea.  Deeply shaded by palms, fringed with white sand, surrounded by crystal clear waters, and with only 15 people total on the whole island, it was almost comically perfect. 

We spent three days and nights with no shoes, just laying around in hammocks and padding around on the water’s edge. 

Franklin and his staff called us to meals by blowing a conch shell.  No electricity, no running water (bucket baths), just a sand floor in a bamboo hut, and three squares – all for $17.50 per person per night. 

The slide show should give you a pretty good feel for the place, but nothing’s like being there (for best effect, click on the show to link to a slightly larger version at slide.com).  Although we try not to go anywhere twice, we’re seriously considering a return visit on our way back to the States this summer.

I enjoyed my conversations with the guy who runs this place, Elixto Franklin.  A Kuna Indian (the Kuna own this whole semi-autonomous region), he received this responsibility almost a year ago and found the place a shambles.  He’s done a lot to improve the place, Cabañas Tubasenika (but called Franklin’s Island by everyone who stays there).  His place has no website or any other publicity, so I want to pass along his cell phone number: (country code 507) 6540-5478.  We wish him all the best.



  1. hello!!

    some friends and i are going to the san blas region in a couple of weeks! how did you get the franklin’s island? from corti? were tours included in your stay?

    any information would be great!
    amanda coolidge

    Comment by Amanda Coolidge — February 16, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  2. hi – i stumbled upon your blog, which is very interesting, as well as inspiring, while doing some research for our upcoming trip to ecuador (june 2009). quick question: we have 4 days to explore the quilotoa loop… should we rent a care and drive from quito? do we absolutely need to have a 4-wheel drive?

    thank you in advance!

    – scott and natasha

    Comment by Scott McCloskey — March 15, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

  3. Someone on Lonely Planet’s Forum mentioned Franklin Island. When I googled it, your blog came up as the only reference. Sounds fantastic. I just called Franklin and am set to visit from Carti airport(1 hr boat ride). He’ll pick you up at the airport and can get you back for the early AM flight out. I did have to have a Spanish-speaking friend negotiate the logistics for me since (not surprisingly) English didn’t come in handy. Thanks again for the great write-up.

    Comment by Joanne — March 30, 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  4. Sounds like u guys had an awesome time!! I’m looking forward to a little tranquilo on the beach myself. I have a couple of questions about your Kuna trip:

    -Does Franklin speak english? cuz my spanish is only useful in person, very bad for phone conversations :(
    -can I drive from Panama in my 4×4 and then take a boat?

    Thanks for your time,


    Comment by Bey — March 30, 2009 @ 5:34 pm

  5. in the website http://www.sanblas-panama.com there is information about san blas islands or the email info@pecaritours.com

    Comment by Kimi — August 14, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  6. Hi there! I would like to know if you have a phone number or an emailadress from franklins?

    Comment by Melanie — March 5, 2013 @ 4:50 am

    • The only phone number I have is on the last line of the post (above): (country code 507) 6540-5478. That number is now 5 years old, so I’m not positive it works. There was no website or email address at the time we visited. Good luck! I’d love to hear a report if you go!

      Comment by lstollin — March 5, 2013 @ 10:23 am

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