The Kuna of the San Blas Islands, Panama

The San Blas Islands are an archipelago of approximately 365 islets off the Caribbean Coast of Panama. To reach these pristine lands you take a bus from Panama City followed by a speedboat out to sea, or you can sail from Cartagena which takes a few days depending on the weather. Tourists are only allowed on the islands for a certain number of days each year.

About 50 of the islands are inhabited and home to indigenous Kuna Indians. The Kuna follow a traditional way of life much like their ancestors, making their livelihood by allowing tourists to stay on the islands and by selling coconuts and fish to the mainland and beyond.

After observing their way of life, I decided to document it. I spent a few days in San Blas and the Kuna people were incredibly hospitable, welcoming me into their homes, sharing their food with me and letting me explore their magical haven. My days passed hopping from one island to the next and discovering marine life, while nights were spent eating fresh fish around camp fires and sleeping in wooden beach huts.

Panama is beautiful, not only aesthetically, but in the simple way of life lived by the people; I hope these images go some way to capture that.

@maylavelle | may

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