Paradise in San Blas islands

If you visited one San Blas island a day, it would take you about a year to see them all. However, some of them are so small, that only 49 of them are inhabited by Kuna people. With a population of about 50,000, Kuna is the largest remaining South American tribe. While San Blas islands are located off the north coast of Panama, the locals have their own laws, language and traditions.

Boat in San Blas

What to expect when visiting San Blas Islands

The tropical San Blas Islands is autonomous territory in Panama and home to Kuna people. They control tourism in their own territory and set how many people visit the islands. Most small islands belong to different families and some decided to open up for visitors. Just don’t expect luxury – most of the time it’s just a few huts (or tents) with a mattress on stilts and chicken with rice for dinner. And that is the beauty of visiting San Blas – you will feel like Robinson Crusoe sitting under the palm tree in the middle of ocean. And while it depends on the island, most of the time it will be just you, the Kuna family and a few other people staying on a small piece of paradise. A perfect place to snorkel in crystal clear water, sip on a coconut and disconnect from the civilized world.

How to get to San Blas Islands

Getting to San Blas Islands is not difficult if you plan your trip in advance. There are several ways to travel there and it only depends on you and your budget. You can reach this paradise in Panama by land, sea or air.

Easy and the cheapest option to visit to San Blas Islands from Panama City

There is no public transport to get to the islands, so you will have to start your journey by looking at different tour operators to choose a San Blas package. And by package we mean an island you want to stay on and the number of nights you want to spend there (3 days/2 nights is the most popular option). It will also include transportation to the islands. On the agreed day the driver will pick you up from your accomodation in Panama City in a 4×4 and take you on a 4 hour journey to the port. There you will be transferred to a boat that will bring you to the island.

Sailing to San Blas Islands

A second option to visit the San Blas Islands is by boat where you will sail from Panama City to Cartagena in Colombia or vise versa. The journey takes around 5 days with the couple of day stop over in San Blas Islands. It is definitely a trip worth considering, just keep in mind that you will be sailing in an open ocean on a small boat and that might be not for everyone. Naturally, the price tag of visiting San Blas Islands by boat is much higher than going by land.

How to get to San Blas Islands by plane

The fastest and most expensive option is flyings. From Panama City you can take a flight operated by Air  Panama to the tiny island of El Porvenir. From there you can catch a speedboat to one of the San Blas Islands. Just keep in mind that you will be using a very small aircraft and you have to book your flight well in advance.

San Blas Checkpoint
It takes about 4 hours from Panama City to reach the checkpoint. From there you are stransfered to a boat that goes to one of the islands.
Kuna woman in a traditional clothing
The all wheel drive vehicles that go to the Kuna territory are heavily regulated.
San Blas marshes
To get to the open ocean, first you have to navigate through the marshes.
Acuadup island in San Blas
Election time in the most populated island is San Blas - Acuadup, also known as the"rock island".
San Blas island
Getting close to our destination.
San Blas Island
The islands are just a few inches above the sea level. Rising sea levels are a real threat to Kuna people.
Turquoise waters of San Blas
Warm turquoise waters of San Blas.
Accomodation in San Blas
LIfe is simple on a San Blas islands. The package include transportation, accomodation and meals - boat ride, hut on a beach and chicken with rice. But what else do you need?
Palm trees in San Blas
Coconuts, tourism and molas are the main sources of income for Kuna people.
Beautiful beaches of San Blas, Panama
Beautiful beaches of San Blas, Panama.
Storm near San Blas
We were lucky the storm stayed on the mainland.
Neighbouring island in San Blas
Neighbouring island is only a short boat ride away.
Local resident
San Blas resident.