Sapibenega – The Kuna Lodge
What to Expect: On this two-and-a-half-acre island in the San Blas archipelago on the northeast side of Panama, hammocks swing gently on the verandas of 13 thatched-roofed bungalows set on stilts over the clear Caribbean. Inside, bamboo walls complement simple but colorful furnishings. The lodge restaurant serves local in-season seafood (including lobster and crab), as well as traditional Kuna Indian dishes such as tulemasi, a soup made with plantains, coconut, fish, hot peppers, and lime. Guests dine by candlelight under the stars.
What to Do: Hike along the coast to the traditional Kuna village of Kolebir. In the main square, look for handmade molas, colorful embroidered cloth panels made by local women that are used for clothing, purses, and wall decorations.
Getting There: Fly from Panama City to Playon Chico. There, a guide from the lodge takes guests by motor canoe on the eight-minute trip to the island.
Insider Tip: Sign up for an eco-tour to the mainland rainforest, where a Kuna healer will share hidden knowledge about the jungle.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.