San Blas Islands
San Blas Islands
4.5
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Top ways to experience San Blas Islands
The area
Best nearby
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Attractions
3 within 10 kms
See what travellers are saying
  • ellaharvey
    Arlington, Virginia18 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    This tour should be on the TOP of your list!!
    A MUST do if you’re visiting Panamá. The islands are absolutely gorgeous . I’ve visited several San Blas islands with Guna Yala Explorer and have not been disappointed yet. They are very professional, accommodating and the trip is always smooth with them form early morning pickup, ride to the port when you catch the speed boat , visit to several islands and lunch included. My favorite island to eat lunch is isla hierba. Take a few extra dollars for water and pack snacks and if you’d like to add something to your lunch you can do so as well such as lobster or your choice.
    Visited September 2023
    Travelled with family
    Written 14 October 2023
  • Sarah W
    Ohio34 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Guna Yala San Blas Overnight Stay
    I went and stayed the night with my friend at walidup island on over the water cabanas. The views are amazing and the island was well kept. We did the tour of the islands during the day it was a fantastic day and night would suggest. However, I camp normally and I would say this was a bit below my comfort level. There was power from 8-6 which was nice because it had power and lights. I would say to bring a net to sleep in the bugs are BAD.
    Visited October 2023
    Travelled with friends
    Written 22 October 2023
  • ibeauty411
    3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Heart opening and humbling experience!
    I read the negative review and feel the need to educate the ignorant that probably thought they were visiting some luxurious island to be glamping. The San Blas Island is in the Guna Yala tribe region of Panama. They are autonomous and very primitive. Their only source of income is the tourism and artisanal work they do. I booked my tour online and not aware of the situation, but then I understood why they charge .25 cents to use the restroom at the port where you take the boat to the island. They have toilet paper and the bathrooms are clean, at least they have a flushable toilet and not a portable bathroom. The car drive was a little scary, they have to cross the mountains to get to the beach area, because they live remote from the city, and for obvious reasons. I spoke to one of the tribe members who had just purchased a boat with 12k he got from his father who had just retired. He is a 32yo Guna member who has to support his whole family. They are the only ones that can have a business in the area, but sadly they have not gone to business school. They are trying to to their best with the knowledge they have. He rents the boat to those who are more stablished and only makes $60 a day. Remember Panama uses mostly dollars and the prices are not as low like most Latin countries. We visited two islands and the natural pools. The water is absolutely gorgeous, like a paradise. the food wasn't bad, fried fish, plantains, coconut rice and for dessert, they had the sweetest pineapple I ever had. I enjoyed the experience and mostly learning something new about a culture that frankly seems to be abandoned by society. I will go back to San Blas any day with an open mind and an open heart. I really loved the experience.
    Visited February 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 16 February 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as waiting time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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Sylvia R
2 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
It is truly paradise. Stopped at 3 islands and a sand bar, very scenic, crystal blue water, kayaking, bars and fun in the sun
Written 10 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

spam972
Aylesbury, UK73 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
The San Blas are stunning but the tour operators (the most expensive one with most reviews) got drunk and went round at the end pressuring people into giving them good reviews (why hey have so many.) All the islands are so close and pretty much the same (basic and filled with trash) and all the tourists get divided up amongst the same boat drivers anyway. After coming back and looking up other tour operators and options. This $159 tour I took + $22 park entry fee, is more expensive than a flight up to Boca Del Toro where you can stay in accommodation a hundred times nicer than San Blas and have the stunning water at your door rather than a 7 hour rollercoasters drive. Or Bolaños or the pearl Islands have WAY better accommodations and less torturous distance to travel.
Written 9 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Eugene
Panama City, Panama7 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2023 • Solo
One of the 10 official paradises on Earth, 365 islands in the Caribbean Sea. Day tour is enough, though staying a couple of nights might be a option; only Kuna Indians may have business in the area, foreigners are not allowed to possess land or carry out any kind of business (except yacht owners who bring tourists).
Written 9 April 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Keron M
Toronto, Canada12 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2024 • Couples
We were a bit apprehensive about our day trip to San Blas Islands especially after reading about the awful journey etc. Our tour otganizer was Camilo Bermudez and he did a great job in organizing everything perfectly. We were picked up in a 4WD at 5.20 am on a Friday morning. We had 3 other ladies with us in the car and it was fun gettingto knowthem. The driver stops at a gas station/snack place for us to use the restrooms (which were clean and free). After a while we continued on the mountainouspart of our journey which took us over the mountains to the Port. Fortunately, the road has been almost completely done and other than the twisty winding aspect of the road, it was a smooth ride. Our passports were only checked once at the Guna Yala check point somewhere in the middle. Our tour organizer Camilo had told us that the cost of the tour included everything, so We didn't have to pay anything extra like the tax and so on.It was a smooth drive to the port. We were met by our island guide and we joined 6 other people. The guide took down our orders for lunch, after which we got into a boat and set off. Now, here's the info about the boat part of the trip. Fortunately for us we were 10 people in a 15 person boat. Also all our bags and backpacks were put away in a storage compartment up front, so they stayed dry. The boat took us to the main island where the entire community lives. This sea was pretty rough. It was overcast and the boat rides between islands was rough as well. But we survived! After the main island, we were taken to a smaller one with lovely blue clear water, where we were served slices of pineapple and watermelon. After spending some time there, we were taken to a shallow clear blue 'pool', which is actually a circular sandbar in the middle of the ocean. We got off and waded about, spotted a few starfish. After this, we were taken to the final island for lunch. My chosen lunch consisted of fried fish filler, batacones, coleslaw and fresh pineapple juice. Food was ample and we were stuffed. After lunch, we laced around, had a swim and were rounded up at 2.45 pm to get back on the boat and return to the port, where we got back into the 4WD for the approx 3 hour trip back to Panama city. Overall, it was a fun day. Tips: Make sure you are clear on what your tour price includes. Each tour operator organizes differently. Take an anti nausea pill if you can't handle twisty mountain roads. Be prepared for rough boat rides and clambering in and out of the boat, and getting wet at times. We returned home tired, but happy. Thank you Guna Yala.
Written 15 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sonia F
Hong Kong, China200 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Solo
If I could give a minus 5 star review, I would have done it. I have friends working in Panama and they recommended San Blas Islands to me because of its pristine water and sandy beaches. It’s just one of the things that you should do in Panama. They have also prepared me that the accommodation is not luxurious. People go there to have a “rustic” experience.
I am all fine with that because I have travelled a lot and nothing would beat the rusticity and simplicity of camping across East Africa for two months. What I have a problem with and I would even call it disastrous is the communication and coordination.

I have picked 2D1N option as I know it would be enough for the experience and that’s only time I have left anyway.

I will break down my review into 6 parts:
1. Pre trip communication
2. Departure Transportation
3. About the island
4. Things to do there
5. Ongoing communication
6. Return transportation

1. Pre trip communication
My friend found this contact through Panama expats group. A woman named Mireya. Responses were on and off fast and slow. Very informal confirmation. The description doesn’t come with the island name, you have to ask for it. The island I m going to is called Aroma Island. Prior to the departure, she passed me the driver’s contact and told me to write to him. Fine I can do that even though I think it’s her job to do it. I made sure to confirm the price and what’s included in the package over WhatsApp. The package comes with private cabin with shared bathroom, full board, no lunch on the departure day, tax and entrance fee to the park are excluded, two islands and natural pool tour is included. As simple as that, and I thought what could go wrong with this but then everything went wrong in the end. Please keep reading.

2. Departure transportation
The driver that I whatsapped told me to be ready at 5:15am. At 5:20am there was a 4x4 showing up but not my driver. I waited till 5:30am, another driver whatsapped me saying he is on the way. Ok, so another driver. That’s OK with me as long as I was picked up but it is showing that the coordination is messy. The car ride includes two stops at gas stations for toilet breaks and stocking. The car ride was OK even with the mountain ride which many people got sick from what I heard. I paid my taxes and entrance fee while we were at the “entrance” to the island. When we got to the port, we were told to wait as the driver will find “your island guide”. My guide took me to a small boat. Turned out I was the only tourist on the boat and I was on a “luxurious” boat because I had “curtains” on the side and plastic films to cover yourself. Without that, you are soaked in sea water as the boat ride was the most horrible ride I have ever had (I scuba dive a lot so I have enough rides to compare to). The boat was in terrible condition with filmsy wood benches to sit on and the wood is all wet. So your butt automatically gets wet without even leaving the port. The ride was very choppy and that size of the boat is simply not made for such crossing. I “survived” the crossing and made it to the island without getting all wet. But my “island guide” did not get off the boat, simply signalling me to follow the island people and “check in”. What?
Then Mireya miraculously showed up on a different boat telling me she is the one organizing my trip. That’s a bit reassuring but she didn’t get off the boat either.

3. About the island
The island, in my opinion, is quite small. Though other people told me later that this island is considered as big. I went on a Friday so there were not too many people. We have enough space. Check in was just to write down your name, pick your lunch and dinner - seafood/fish/chicken/vegetarian. I highly recommend seafood and fried fish. Chicken was as hard as a stone. Grilled fish is simply not grilled. Portion was OK but I recommend bringing your snacks. They messed up my booking and gave me a shared room with 6 beds in it. I told them I m having a private cabin. They told me everything is fully booked and I got a 5 beds room but just me staying in the room. They provided you with a pillow, bedsheet and a thin quilt. They are all washed with salty water so the beddings are all sticky. I suggest you not to smell it.
Toilet and shower situation are better than I imagined. Flushable toilet with toilet paper - great. Shower is cold salted water with a hanger to hang your stuff - also great. Charging docks are available after 6pm till they close the reception. There are lights in the room. It was very windy but wind doesn’t really go through the room so I suggest opening the door while sleeping. There are no mosquitoes thanks to the wind. Coconuts could drop any minute but don’t touch them when they are on the ground as they belong to the island owner. Probably 5 hammocks are available on the island. Lounging chair is available for rental at USD5. Plastic chairs are free to use. Sodas, beer and snacks are available at a cost. I stayed next to the reception so music was blasting in the evening and people were talking. I suggest bringing your ear plugs to live with the situation.

4. things to do there
It depends on the island I heard. Aroma Island doesn’t have a lot of facilities so there are not many things to do on the island. Every San blas tour will offer you two islands hopping and a natural pool visit which is a sandbar. You will not know where you are going until you are actually there. The entire visit takes about 3 hours.

5. Ongoing communication
There are none after they have put me on the island. As it turns out the “guide”/“coordinator” actually has to ask you whether you want to check out in the morning or in the afternoon because they have to arrange transportation. The woman called Mireya did not call me and assumed I am checking out in the afternoon while the package said that lunch on check out day is not included. I only found out this information until a tour guide told me that all boats to the port have left and cars were on the way to the city. I was furious because I have been asking when my boat would arrive since 7am. They said the boat would arrive at 9:30am so I waited. These island people keep telling me it’s the next boat. But when there is a problem, they just said no ingles. I was using translator the whole time with these island people because I know they do not speak English. Everyone just brushed the problem off like I know nothing and no solutions were offered. So the tour guide got hold of Mireya and she said that I have to wait until 3:30pm for the boat to go to the port and I would only arrive at the city at 7pm. If this woman would have told me earlier, then I would have prepared for the extra time on the island. I literally wasted the whole day because of her fault. I requested a refund and she gave me a breakdown which made no sense as the costs indicated are more than what I paid. I asked them to pay for my lunch and luckily they said my lunch will be covered. It was a Saturday so there were lots of day trippers. A few overnight travellers and I were stranded on the island and were treated like leftovers because they did not expect us to be there. Lunch situation was a mess because day trippers were prioritized.

6. Return transportation
We waited till 3:30pm but there was no boat so I had to call Mireya. She said it depends on the wind situation. I think she is just talking trash the whole time because none of it makes sense. The boat finally showed up at 4pm with the day trippers on it. Funny enough, the boat ran out of gasoline and we were waiting on the sea for another boat to give us some gasoline. Mireya told me my driver is Carlos but of course it wasn’t Carlos. I arrived at the port, looking for my driver as Mireya is unreachable. Carlos, who wasn’t my driver but was there to help me find out the actual driver. The ride down the mountain was horrible.

Overall I don’t know if I would recommend San blas islands or not. With this amount of travel time, to these islands where you can actually find it in other places with more accessibility, I have my doubts. With the flock of tourists to this place, the people coordinating these trips have to at least learn proper English and be more organized. The current infrastructure is unable to support such tourism. The amount you paid also does not justify the experience. If you really have nothing to do in Manama, then go, but do not have any expectations and be papered to be really bored. Bring a lot of books.
Written 11 March 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SilverTraveler2
Castle Rock, WA233 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
First off, we're an older couple (57 & 58), and we had a tremendous time on this trip. We booked through Burba Travel for $140 each, but only paid $125 each as we have residency in Panama and we don't pay the same taxes. Even at $140 each, the trip was a bargin with everything that was included. Pickup at our condo at 5am (4x4 veh, and we shared the car with three other people), 2 hr drive to the coast, boat transfer to three islands, lunch (fried whole fish or chicken), and transfer back. All in about 11 hrs. So to enjoy this trip, I'd recommend that you have some sense of adventure. If you want limo quality service, then don't take this trip. If you want to have an experience, then this is the trip for you. This is in response to to some of the negative reviews. Yes...the car ride is rough with lots of turns, so I can see how someone could get carsick. It's the road and not the driver. The boats are small, and you're going to get wet...shocker I know, but that's part of the fun. You can bring drinks with you (water, pop, or liquor). They don't care, and there doesn't appear to be any rules on what you can bring with you. You can bring snorkel gear or rent it for $5 at the island. Five dollars is less than a cup of coffee these days so don't get upset over it. Drinks are expensive ($6 beer, $10 tropical drink), so I would recommend bringing your drinks. But remember...everything is brought in by small boat every day to include the ice. The water is crystal clear, beaches are beautiful, and people are friendly. We're planning another trip, but stay overnight. It's very basic living, but once again...that's the allure of it. It's a great time to look within oneself, find peace, and see what's really important in life.
Written 25 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Aluga B
3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Couples
San Bass YES. One of the most beautiful places on earth- this review is about Captain Goeran - Quest SY. Please read, reach out to me but stay away from him. We had the most terrible experience on board Quest SY and the owner/Captain Goeran Persson. He is rude, makes you feel uncomfortable and will drop you off at an isolated island without warning, water, food, and keep your money. He did this to my husband 45, and me 43 on Feb 17, 2024. We had plan this trip for my husband’s 46th birthday. It’s such a shame that such a bitter arrogant men is associated with such beautiful islands and beautiful people as the Gunas. Captain told us to leave the boat after 12 hours of sailing stating that my husband was drunk and was putting him the the other passengers at risk. Such allegation arose from an argument by husband who WAS NOT drunk had with the captain less than 2 hours into the trip. There were 2 other people on deck getting sick from the rough seas. My husband was laying on a bench and Captain said: Move, this is my bench to take naps. My husband then moved to the other one, Captain said he could not lay down there. Captain said my husband could only lay down in the cabin. My husband explained that being in the suffocating cabin with no air is what made him sick. My husband asked why the captain was laying where there was fresh air and he, as a paying passenger, couldn’t - to which the captain stated that was his boat and we all must obey which we did . After this discussion, we continued to sail until 5am when captain anchored to sleep. At 7 we proceeded to the first San Blass island. Captain made us and the other 7 passengers disembark to get our passports stamped. Once we were close to the Guna office, he handed our passports to my husband and stated that he was leaving us there and keeping our money. He gave me 10 minutes to go ALONE back to the boat with his and his girlfriend to pack our 2 backpacks. When I asked him how we would get out of the island he stated: not my problem. I asked for a refund and he gave me $40 which was the Gunas entry fee that he had already pocketed it. Once back on the island to meet the other passangers, we were greeted by the Panama Military who told me that Captain Goeran had done the same thing to 4 other passengers 2 weeks prior. The Military, Guna Minister of Tourism, Guna Attorney, and secretaries all interviewed the other passengers and confirmed my husband was not aggressive nor did he put anyone in danger. The military then asked the captain why he didn’t turn around if he was fearing for his and the other passengers safety instead of sailing for 9 hours and going to bed 2 of these hours, and the captain had no reply other than “no COMPRENDO.” The military then told the Captain that his boat was being detained at the island until he either returned our money or took us to Cartagena as planned. TheCaptain refused to comply for 8 whole hours… 8 hours leaving the other passangers stuck in the island with no water, food, or shade or unable to enjoy their vacation. 8 hours of nightmare watching disrespect the Gunas, the military, us, and the other passengers. The Gunas told him several times that he ca not drop people off at their island and leave them there as trash. After 8 hours, the military officers became aggravated and he finally gave up and realized that he had no option, so he refunded our money minus one night and minus the deposit. It was a horrible experience. Please read the other reviews on tripadvisor and Google and stay away from him. There are plenty of other boat and Captain options. Don’t ruin your San Blas experience by going with him. We are seeking legal action and have several ongoing complaints with officials in Panama and Colombia. If any past guest wants to reach out to me please contact me at saynotoquestsy@gmail.com
Written 23 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ibeauty411
Miami Beach3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Family
I read the negative review and feel the need to educate the ignorant that probably thought they were visiting some luxurious island to be glamping. The San Blas Island is in the Guna Yala tribe region of Panama. They are autonomous and very primitive. Their only source of income is the tourism and artisanal work they do. I booked my tour online and not aware of the situation, but then I understood why they charge .25 cents to use the restroom at the port where you take the boat to the island. They have toilet paper and the bathrooms are clean, at least they have a flushable toilet and not a portable bathroom. The car drive was a little scary, they have to cross the mountains to get to the beach area, because they live remote from the city, and for obvious reasons. I spoke to one of the tribe members who had just purchased a boat with 12k he got from his father who had just retired. He is a 32yo Guna member who has to support his whole family. They are the only ones that can have a business in the area, but sadly they have not gone to business school. They are trying to to their best with the knowledge they have. He rents the boat to those who are more stablished and only makes $60 a day. Remember Panama uses mostly dollars and the prices are not as low like most Latin countries. We visited two islands and the natural pools. The water is absolutely gorgeous, like a paradise. the food wasn't bad, fried fish, plantains, coconut rice and for dessert, they had the sweetest pineapple I ever had. I enjoyed the experience and mostly learning something new about a culture that frankly seems to be abandoned by society. I will go back to San Blas any day with an open mind and an open heart. I really loved the experience.
Written 16 February 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Tina C
18 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Family
This was a Wonderful trip , we rented a sailboat for 4 nights and sailed around the Islands, it was just wonderful, our captain was amazing and fun, , the water was amazing , th food was amazing, the Kuna people everything ,, I HIGHLY recommend visiting the San Blas Islands,, never knew it existed and it was a hidden gem. the car ride is 2 hours from city (is fine) and the boat ride out was treacherous , 45 minutes (but this is depending on weather so .. other than that five star adventure
Written 26 January 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Sarah W
Ohio34 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Friends
I went and stayed the night with my friend at walidup island on over the water cabanas. The views are amazing and the island was well kept. We did the tour of the islands during the day it was a fantastic day and night would suggest. However, I camp normally and I would say this was a bit below my comfort level. There was power from 8-6 which was nice because it had power and lights. I would say to bring a net to sleep in the bugs are BAD.
Written 22 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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San Blas Islands - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Frequently Asked Questions about San Blas Islands

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