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Yandup Island Lodge
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All reviewsplayon chicoseafoodair panamakuna yalakuna communitypanama citybug spraysan blassolar panelsmangrove toursoupno hot waterceiling fanwrap around porchisland lodgethatched rooffresh fish
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Reviewed 16 September 2013

This is a very relaxing place to recharge your energies.
As soon as you arrive with the Air Panama adventurous flight you understand this is a place where tourism industry doesn't have a chance to spoil the experience. It's just pure nature and very welcoming local indian community. This is an autonomous area in Panama, meaning they have their own laws and live out of the land, planting their own food and selling coconuts.
Yandup has comfortable rooms made with their own kind of architecture of tree leafs, which is much better than concrete houses that are hotter.
They don't have air conditioner but there's no need, cause you can feel the breeze coming from the sea.
It's based on a very small island with 10 chalets. I stayed in the ones over the sea and I definitely recommend this ones cause you hear the sound of the waves when you go to sleep.
The only issue for me is that we follow their itinerary of food, not having much option to decide to eat later. Breakfast is at 7:30/08:00, lunch at 13:00 and dinner at 19:00.
But you get used to it.
They offer daily excursions to other islands, rivers, community... But if you want stay at the hotel relaxing it's ok too, they have a small beach where you can stay reading for 6 hours and don't even feel time passing by.
The sunset there was amazing, with lots of birds flying by.
The sea water in amazing, super limpid and it's good for diving.
The staff was very kind and they're open to explain to you how the Kuna Yalas live.
I definitely recommend this place for a romantic trip or travelling with young children!!

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank mvfalci
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2013 via mobile

We arrived at playon Chico airport and was met by Blanco and Louise, who helped us with our bags and took us to the lodge. It was so beautiful there, and we loved our little hut, primitive, but so nice and correct for a place like this. We got breakfast as soon as we arrived, which was more than enough food. The food in general was good and plenty, and quickly served. Frech seafood, straight from the sea, you could actually see it being delivered. Helpful and nice staff, interesting tours and nice beaches to visit. We where lucky to have other social guests to drink with and talk to in the evening. Enjoyed our stay, would definitely go back!

Thank you yandup family!

  • Stayed: August 2013
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1  Thank InaKristin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 September 2013

I had seen an article in T&L about Yandup Island Lodge and on cross referencing with Tripadvisor, decided to book this trip. The price is fair, given that it includes room, food and tours. I have to admit that it did not live up to my expectations given the reviews, although it was still a nice 3 days of relaxation without having to plan anything. Please note, if you are going during the wet season, they will probably not take you on any hikes (due to "puddles").

The flight was uneventful in the ~ 19-20 person plane. Blanco and Domy met us at the airport and took us in the 10 minute boat ride to the island. We had an overwater cabin #6, which was what I had expected based on the pictures. Rustic, relatively comfortable beds, ceiling and floor fan, flourescent light over the bed, basic bathroom (with shampoo and soap), closet area with shelves and some hanging room. Breakfast was serving until 8:30AM - eggs with peppers, ham, bread (slightly stale) and coffee (with odd cream). Other days were simpler, with yogurt included. Unfortunately due to the weather (rain and wind), the morning tour was cancelled. We ended up canoeing around a little and relaxing until lunch at 1pm (fish). We left for the afternoon tour a little early and were able to see the mangroves, basic sealife and swim at a local island. Dinner (always at 6:30pm). was probably the best meal of our 3 day trip - seafood pasta, including crawfish and chocolate pudding. They usually provide fruit at one or two of the meals each day. They are very prompt with the meals, which usually last for 30 minutes, and then you are free to do whatever you like. We ended up hanging out in the dining area with other people staying on the island and had drinks - rum, beer, etc. and talked until ~ 10:30pm.

The next day was a snorkel day in the morning. We didn't bring snorkel gear, so rentals were $5 for snorkel mask and flippers or $3 for snorkel mask only. Luckily it was a sunny day and the water was nice on Iguana Island. We were able to see a lot of coral (very shallow) and different types of fish. Afterward we hung out on the island and swam a bit, before heading back for lunch. We had a nice nap, and headed out for the 4pm tour of the village. It was interesting seeing the village, although depressing, seeing all the trash (both in the village and washing up shore on the islands). There were all very nice and didn't seem to be pushy about buying things or taking pictures. Dinner was uneventful and it was an early night.

For the last day we went snorkeling, but to the same island because the one they were planning on taking us to had too many mosquitos and insects. We did see a dolphin on our way out, though. The snorkeling wasn't as good since it was overcast and ready to storm. We went off by ourselves and got stuck in the reefs when trying to get back before the thunderstorms. That afternoon we went to the river and saw some birds. Dinner was decent.

We left the island at 6:10AM the next day, got on our flight around 7AM, made a couple stops along San Blas (dropping off people and cargo, as well as picking up a few others) and made it back to Panama City around 8AM.

I agree with what most people said in their reviews. 3 days was enough time on the island, given that the food and tours recycle, so unless you don't mind doing and eating the same thing, there's not reason to stay longer. There aren't any mosquitos on the island (no Mangrove trees), but there are sand flies which seem to bite certain people. I'm not sure how much the insect repellent helped me, as I got bitten and it was itchy, but they went away after about a week. Bring hydrocortisone cream for the itch. The food gets monotonous after awhile and at first didn't seem like it was enough. I think my stomach shrunk after a day, though, so it wasn't so bad, but still, try to bring snacks. They haven't built the bar yet, so you can get drinks during dinner - $2 domestic bottle/can of beer, $20 for Abuelo rum 750mL, $21 bottle of wine, but you can bring your own. The shower pressure was at times felt like trying to take a shower during a light rain. There was one afternoon that they were not able to have any water, but fixed it within a few hours. Bring a beach towel, a book, and a flash light (it gets dark once the sun sets at 6pm).

The things that weren't mentioned: sometimes the power goes out in the middle of the night, which means no fan and very hot and humid rooms while sleeping. During the afternoon trips to the mangroves, village, and river there was some explanation about the environment and history, but it seemed very basic and sometimes the facts were inaccurate. It didn't seem like the guides were very knowledgeable, just fed some facts to give to us. Also, if there are mostly Spanish speakers on the island, the guides stop speaking English (as if they have forgotten how) and you end up needing someone else to translate for you. Luckily the other people during our trip were very nice and were able to explain things to us.

Pros: Very relaxing, no need to plan anything, nice snorkeling, quaint rooms
Cons: somewhat bland food, itchy sand fly bites, inexperience tour guides, limited types of tours (especially related to weather), poor water pressure

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank ltsao01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 September 2013

What an incredible experience this was. My friend and I stayed two nights and completely fell in love with this beautiful dot in the Caribbean off the shores of Panama! The island itself is about the size of a football field, but beautiful and relaxing. There are five "huts" on the island and five "huts" over the ocean (which in my opinion is well worth the few extra dollars). I hesitate calling them huts, because they are very large, comfortable, and have a wonderful wraparound porch complete with hammocks. The food was amazing, each meal was the catch of the day and wonderfully prepared. We were taken by boat to a neighboring island for snorkeling which was very beautiful, great reef full of beautiful fish, coral, etc. Treasured experience!

Room Tip: Spend the extra cash and request a hut over the water - how often do you get the chance to see the ocean through your room floor and laze in a hammock watching the ocean up close and personal?
  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled with friends
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1  Thank Rascleberry
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 August 2013

If you are looking for a relaxing place to get away and also experience some of the indigenous Kuna Yala culture, this is the place to go. Its difficult to fully describe the experience but I will say that the service was always friendly and thoughtful, the setting was always laid back, and there was adequate structure and free time to really experience a vacation. Honestly, Blanco, one of the guides, was what really made our trip so spectacular. He was so helpful, thoughtful, and open. It was great getting to know his story and learning from him about the Kuna Yala culture and the San Blas area. I hope that someday I can go back here!

  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank sebn09
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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