How To Travel to San Blas Islands-Everything You Need To Know

Between the eastern coast of Panama and the abyss of the Caribbean Sea is something special.

360 islands scattered throughout the clear, light blue and green waters of the Caribbean and a glimpse into what living in paradise is actually like. You can see my video here.

My experience at San Blas Islands was something I'll never forget. I remember being led into my "room" for the night and walking into a hut lined with ten twin beds and a sand floor. The front door was ten feet from the shore. I could walk from one end of my island to the other in less than five minutes. The only warning? Watch out for falling coconuts.

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Looking to travel to San Blas Islands? Here is what you need to know.

How much does it cost?

For two nights and three days I paid about $250. Each package varies and the more people you bring the lower the price. 

What kind of tours are there?

There are three tour packages: Day trip, 2 night trip, or three night trip. I went on the two day trip and found it to be the perfect amount of time. This included two full days of excursions and one day of just relaxing.

Can I go by myself or do I need a tour?

You can't just visit San Blas Islands. There are indigenous people that live there and you must be on a guided tour in order to be there. You'll book a tour through your hotel, hostel or a tourist agency. 

What is the best city to leave from?

Panama City. 

What does my tour include?

  • Accommodation
  • Three meals/day
  • Transport to and from your hostel or hotel in Panama City
  • Excursions (Two day tours include two excursions)
  • Transport around the islands

Where do I stay?

Depending on who your tour guide is you'll stay on a specific island. I stayed on Aroma Island, in a hut with a sand floor and shared a room with everybody else that I was on the tour with.

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What should I bring?

Most importantly, you must bring your own SUNBLOCK!

Clothes:

  • Bathing suit
  • Two pairs of shorts
  •  Two-three tank tops/shirts
  • Sandals
  • One pair of pajamas
  • Rain jacket (if you want)

Toiletries

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Soap

Camera/Tech Gear that is useful if you have it:

  • GoPro
  • GoPro floaty
  • Waterproof phone case

NOTE: Drones are forbidden on San Blas.

Do I need to bring food or drinks?

You can get food/drinks beforehand or your transport from Panama City to San Blas should stop at the grocery store. You don't have to bring snacks, water, beer or rum with you but it's obviously much cheaper to buy it yourself than on the island. That said, a Balboa beer was $2.

I brought my daypack with me (and left my big bag at my hostel) for the two night package (17 x 11 x 6 inches).

You're going to eat the same thing pretty much every day. Here are the meals that we had:

 Lunch is served!

Lunch is served!

Breakfast: One egg omelete and a piece of bread served with coffee

Lunch and dinner: For lunch it's your choice of chicken, fish or mixed seafood with rice and a cabbage salad. If you order fish it's almost always a grilled whole fish. For dinner you just get served what the Kuna women prepare for you which is one of the above.

You can also buy a lobster from a fisherman (they will come to you and ask if you want buy one) and have them cook that for you instead.

What type of excursions do you go on?

You'll spend one day on Shipwreck Island. Your tour guide can provide your with snorkel gear to explore the sunken ship where tons of fish reside. It goes pretty far out into the sea and is a really cool site. 

 Snorkeling at Shipwreck Island.

Snorkeling at Shipwreck Island.

Another day will be spent touring different islands. Each island will have beer and drinks to buy, you can snorkel, volleyball nets and hammocks to lounge in.

 On a sandbar in the middle of the ocean as part of our tour of the different islands.

On a sandbar in the middle of the ocean as part of our tour of the different islands.

You can't come to Panama and not visit San Blas Islands. Use them as your excuse to get to explore all of the beauty that is this epic country.