Cartagena: Sail to Panama
Get There: Blue Sailing, Getsemani Cartagena, Calle San Andres 30-47 (or head to bluesailing.com)
If your travel plans include hitting up both Central and South America, I’m going to tell you right now to forget the flight between Colombia and Panama, grab a bottle of rum and head to a boat that sails between the two countries instead. Whether you are looking for a raging pirate party in international waters or a more tranquil time relaxing on the islands of San Blas, you will be catered for thanks to the number of companies and range of boats that do the trip.
Like any activity that can be dangerous, it is probably a good idea to choose a reputable company, and although this might mean digging a little deeper into the pockets, frankly I enjoy my life and coming out the other side still kicking confirmed it was worth the extra cash. After chatting with a heap of different travellers, Blue Sailing had been mentioned more than once, so the decision of which company to go through was made easily. The staff were super informative and easy to deal with, even through email, and helped get us on a boat with as little as four days’ notice.Every journey is all inclusive – meals, water, snorkelling gear etc (depending on which boat you go with), as well as island taxes and visa help. It is however recommended that you bring sea sickness tablets and other handy dandy travel items, but all of this is listed on the website.
The boat I set sail on was called The Spray and had room for eight people, plus the captain and first mate, who were both called Jose. We departed from Cartagena, Colombia, which meant the first two days consisted of nothing but open seas, and I’m not going to sugar coat it – it was gnarly. Even after popping several sea sickness pills, I spent the first day feeling nauseous and unable to eat, and by the second night I was vomiting up the lining of my stomach. However, the fact that I can still claim this as one of the highlights of my travels through the America’s obviously meant that the second half of my experience well and truly made up for it. Day three came, and when we arrived at our first island, we were greeted with crystal blue waters, white sand, coconuts, friendly locals, palm trees, volleyball nets and beach shacks that sell 50c beers. Imagine your daily schedule consists of exploring an island and/or sun baking after eating an amazing breakfast. You then eat an equally delicious lunch that has been prepared for you, and after snorkelling for three hours, you dine on baddie lobster for dinner. Every day sunset is accompanied by beers and card games, and if you are with a whacky bunch, you will be entertained by people dancing on the roof and mispronouncing funny words in English.
Maybe I became a little too obsessed with the mermaid life, but if you would prefer the nightmare of an airport, then you don’t deserve the beauty that is San Blas anyway.