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Forums » Panama » San Blas Islands


San Blas Islands

by Harold »

Visiting this part of Panama has always intrigued me, but because the tribes seem to keep a tight control over travel here, all the packages I've seen listed are very pricey. Is there an affordable way to visit this part of Panama? Thanks!


RE: San Blas Islands

by Justin »

I've heard that if you book your San Blas Island trip once you get there, you can usually get an unsold seat on one of the tours and it's MUCH less expensive. However, you have to be very flexible in your travel plans to do this. But that apparently is the most affordable way. Second most would probably be to go through an adventure outfitter that works with several companies, like Good luck!


RE: San Blas Islands

by austintraveler121 »

The San Blas Islands are incredible. It's seriously like a postcard there - the islands, palm trees, and native people. So rad. It can be fairly inexpensive or expensive to visit, depending on how you want to travel and sleep. There are basic accommodations on islands like Robinson - these usually just consist of a hut and a bed (definitely no AC or bathroom). Nicer hotels will have rooms with a private bathroom and maybe a ceiling fan or AC. Tours can also be arranged when you get there, but you can still get good deals by doing it in advance. And that way you can figure out what you really want to do and make the most of your time.

Lots of info on San Blas here:


RE: San Blas Islands

by Panamatips »

I found this article very relevant from this travel blog:

All Paradises have their downside

We have created this fact sheet based on our own experience, we believe important to share the reality of the small postcards islands with white sand, beaches and palm trees, prior departure, for you to enjoy better your trip and know exactly how it could be.

The San Blas Islands are run by the indigenous called The Kunas. They have their own rules and Panamanian law doesn’t much exist. Their main income is the tourism and foreigners are not authorized to operate tourisms there. Meaning this, as soon as you embark on their small boats, you are in the hands of the Kunas and it will be difficult to claim back any delays, logistics problems or refunds.

It is the reason why it is important to stay on recommended islands and not book through agencies with +10 islands listings who care about profit and not about customer satisfaction. Additionally, all these listings create confusion to travelers and hesitation. Now, you can also book your Party Cruise expedition to San Blas with pumping music on the boat, drinks all day bringing bad influences to the Kuna people which is probably not what you are looking for ?

Remember all islands are beautiful in San Blas and your choice should be determined by the most beautiful islands out of the 365 islands but on the Kuna Family hospitality, the accommodation, the service and tours provided. That’s why on our side we can only recommend the cabins of our friends located in Chichime Island and Diablo Island.

To explain the “low” service level sometimes offered, you must understand that San Blas is still very basic. The Kuna operating there have not all studied Hospitality Management, Logistics, Gastronomy, nor Tourism. There has been a big “boom” during the past years and they have not been trained for that and some just want you to experience their lifestyle in their own comfort which is as well part of the trip.

About the 4×4 road transportation performed by Panamanians, you can except to be a little squeezed as 7 passengers can fit into the car. As well, you can experience some delays or the car already waiting for you because the pick-up route can change and sometimes others passengers create themselves the delays (alarm clock issues). To avoid that, you can always pay extra fee and request a private charter.

Be flexible! You must expect some delays, lack of communication, waiting for someone or something without knowing the cause, rustic cabanas, no fish but pasta, (Yes!, sometimes the fish season is low), fried eggs and bread for breakfast, but in the end, everything works out if you can accept the little discomfort.  Simply enjoy the adventure!

San Blas have a problem with rubbish collection, so you can expect to see some of it on these islands and more during summer season because of the strong current. The main rubbish are coming from the sea, cargoes and sailing boat!

Mandatory items you must take with:

  • Always have your Passport with you and not in your bag as there are some check-point on the way.
  • The 4×4 transportation will stop on the supermarket but at in case it does not, make sure to have at least a gallon of water with you and others small snacks.
  • Towel, swimming and snorkeling equipment
  • Rain coat for the boat ride
  • Ziploc or any hermetic bags to put your valuable items in a safe place during the boat ride as everything can get wet
  • Toilet paper
  • Sun block
  • Mosquito repellent (mosquitoes are not much present on the islands but at the port)



RE: San Blas Islands

by billiv »

I just saw the San Blas title on this old thread.  Reminded me of when I was a kid (1st through 3rd grades just after the Korean War) with my parents at Fort Kobbe in the Canal Zone.  Our maid and the gardner/handyman were both from the San Blas Islands. 

Our maid would bring my mom mola material made by her and her friends.  Mom kept some as they were and used them as wall art for years. Others she had made into handbags, high heel shoe material, etc.  I still remember us being carried from the boat to the shore on the occasions we visited their families.


RE: San Blas Islands

by Sean321 »

Well Guys, i have no idea about the San Blas Islands. It is a new name of place for me but all of you had shared great detail about it. Now, I can go there easily and I will make a plan to go there as soon as possible. I am sure I will see many great and wonderful things there.