The San Blas Islands Travel Guide

Even if you have heard about the San Blas Islands in Panama, do not be surprised if in your first encounter reality surpasses the dream. That’s how fantastic your first impression will be. The mind is reluctant to believe that they have been able to remain so beautifully primitive despite the progress of civilization.

Within this territory, the Guna people, people of great simplicity and charm whose ancestors popullated these shores long before Columbus landed, govern themselves in a virtually autonomous society.The pattern of their lives is simple and comfortable. They live on tiny, palm-fringed islands, hundres of which dot the surface of the blue and emerald sea. The Islands are totally free from animals or snakes and have a perfect, breeze-cooled tropical climate.

The men either go to the mainland to cultivate corn, yucca and coconuts, or go fishing or trading around neighbourning islands. In recent years with the growth of tourism, the owners of the islands are hosting the people who come here every day. Only the Guna population is allowed to work in the Comarca.Many of the islands are unihabited except for a “caretaker” who guards the coconut trees and their precious crop, which is the basic live-lihood of the Guna.

No land is individually owned in San Blas, but the coconut trees are. Any disputes are setled within the village itself, and each village has its congress all, a large hut where the people make their decisions.There is a Government outpost and police station on the island of Porvenir but the Police Force doesn’t do much business. The Guna deal with their own problems.
For all the simplicity of their lives the San Blas Guna remain very aware of their rights to their own territory and they guard their rights passionately.

Where are San Blas Islands
The San Blas Islands are located in Panamá, an archipelago of over 365 islands, stretch along approximately 200 miles of Panama Caribbean coast-line.

How to Get to San Blas Islands
There are several ways to access the Guna Yala Region from Panama City, the most used is in a 4×4 vehicle, it is approximately 3 hours from the City (includes a stop of approximately 30min to buy snacks in a supermarket), the route is fully paved from 2010, making access easier for travelers and members of the Guna community who use this route every day, the departure time of our tours from the city is at 5:30 am, the San Blas tours from Panama City are available every day from your accommodation in the city, when you arrive at the port you take the boat corresponding to the tour you have booked, either Overnight Tour or Day Tour.

Another way to access the San Blas Islands is through a Sailboat that makes the route to San Blas from Panama to Colombia or Colombia to Panama, this trip must be booked in advance as it has become very popular with travelers who want explore this bridge between Central America and South America, for some it is the best border crossing in the world, usually it lasts 5 days and 5 nights, on our website you can see the fleet of these Sailing Boats. The last way since it is the least common is by air, in the islands of San Blas there are several tracks and you can get there with one of the main airlines of the country Air Panama.

Where to stay in San Blas Panama
San Blas are about 365 different islands all the way from Panama to Colombia, some of them are for tourist and some others are for the “community” so you can explore a lot of different ones without interfering the Guna normal life, therefore if you decide to sleep over on one of the islands you must know the accommodation is very basic, the preferred islands by travelers and Panamanians are for example: Chichime Island, Diablo Island, Cayos Holandeses, Aroma Island, Ina Island, Dog Island, Yanis Island, Guna Community.

What to do in San Blas Panama
If for you it is not enough just to chill and contemplate the astonishing landscape laying on a hammock drinking from a coconut , on the islands you can do also some activities you could find interesting, from snorkeling a sunken ship to swim around in the crystal water or even play volleyball with the locals, you will have a real challenge here, since they play very well. Just keep your eyes open if you are lucky enough you can spot dolphins, turtles and a lot of birds.

Are the San Blas Islands safe
As the country itself san blas is considerer quite safe, you can feel it also on the islands, where based on our experience of more than 4 years have never complains about this particular issue, anyways we recommend to have normal safety precautions to avoid any inconvenience.

Are the San Blas Islands worth it
These remote islands are one of the most searched places for traveller and adventurers all around the world, the awesome landscapes, the turquoise water, white sand beaches and the contact with the Guna Culture make this experience unique, you won’t see anything like this in other place, making this caribbean corner once of a lifetime experience.

San Blas Islands vs Bocas del Toro
This is a question we get very often from our costumers, and the answer could be quite easy, both are super nice destinations with beautiful beaches, the main difference lies in the calm you can breathe on the San Blas Islands, since Bocas del Toro is a more developed town, you can find grocery stores, bars, restaurants. Totally the opposite on the San Blas Islands that is still a very virgin area, where you will eat whatever the Guna offer and instead of stores you can buy Molas from the locals to help with their economy.

Weather on the San Blas Islands Panama and Best Time to Visit
In the San Blas Islands as in all of Panama the climate is tropical, with a rainy season, from June to November, where you can also have a lot of sun since it is not very common to have very long rains, and at this time of the year it is where the sea is quieter and is ideal for sailing. From December to May it is the dry season, where the blue skies take over San Blas although there is also a windy season. These characteristics make the San Blas Islands an ideal place to visit all year round, so our tours are available 365 days a year.

What to bring to San Blas Islands?
We advise you not to bring along the whole bag of the trip, during the boat trip it could get wet, we advise you to leave it in your hotel/hostel/apartment and bring only with you:

Snacks & Fruit
Your own drinks: Water, Rum, Beer, Wine, Soda
Beach towel
Insect repellent
Sun protection
Snorkeling equipment
Passport (Entry to Guna Yala may be denied without it)
Sunglasses
Hat
Fully charged camera
There is no ATM in San Blas, so be sure to bring enough cash
A light jacket for boat transfers
Your smile ????

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