The San Blas Archipelago is a group of 365 small islands located in northeastern Panama and inhabited by the Kuna Indians. Only a small number of them are populated and, of these, some offer the possibility of being discovered by travelers.

 

The islands are part of the Kuna Yale region and its access is not so easy. For this reason, it is not a destination too exploited in the field of tourism. Tranquility, nature and the possibility of knowing a little of those who inhabit the place are some of the things offered by San Blas.

 

How to get from Panama by land

 

A trip from Panama City to the beautiful beaches of Kuna Yale can take about 2.5 hours.

 

For this it will be better to hire the services of the authorized companies that have the vehicles and the corresponding experience. Of course, since to arrive you will have to cross a route not easy and will have to do it with all-terrain vehicles and drivers who know the area.

 

Individuals can make the journey, but it is prohibited to do it with ordinary cars or vans. The route has complicated points with curves and steep areas. A GPS, a map and caution will be the best friends of those who decide to launch the adventure on their own.

How to get from Panama by air

 

Faster, simpler, but more expensive is to get to San Blas by plane. The service is provided by Air Panama and the flight lasts approximately 25 minutes.

 

The planes depart from Marcos A. Gilbert Airport in Panama City and the destination in the Kuna Yale Region is El Parvenu, an island located 15 minutes from the Lemons Keys.

How Long to Stay in San Blas

 

The service offered on the islands is pretty basic and, beyond the beaches, there is not much else to do. Also, it must be taken into account that the rules on each island are different and are those raised by the natives of the island.

 

Some may not drink alcohol, others do not allow smoking, and may even require authorization to take photos.

 

Thus, the recommended time to spend in that destination is between two and three days. A trip to complement with other points of this wonderful and beautiful country.

 

Hotels and accommodation on the islands of Guna Yala or San Blas

 

The Caribbean archipelago of Guna Yala or San Blas is one of the most popular destinations in Panama. Almost all visitors want to go to know these wonderful islands where, having limited mass tourism, you can appreciate the classic prints of a paradisiac Caribbean. However, there is very little information available online. This article is intended to help you understand the offer of accommodation that is in guna Yale.

 

First of all, it is important to understand the style of accommodation that you will find in guna Yale. In general, these are rustic accommodations. Even the most expensive ones are, although the quality of the same is superior. In guna Yale, do not expect that for 200 USD per night you will have a 5 star hotel room; It is likely to be a wooden hut built in the traditional guna way, although you will have an excellent bed, good access to electricity, a fan (may be necessary), and possibly some of the best meals in the archipelago Be included in the price). Therefore, it is well worth considering the budget to use during a stay in guna Yale. I do not like to spend more than 100 per person per night, with meals and walks included, because anyway I know that I will be almost all the time outside the room, on the beaches or snorkeling. It is true that expensive accommodations are much more comfortable, especially since they are cooler, since the cheap ones are usually designed in a way that is hot inside the room and there may be no fan.

In guna Yale, apart from the cabins and hotels, there is also the possibility of camping. It is the cheapest option and is usually available on the islands near the port of Carty, such as Abuja Island, Big Dog Island, and Perrot Chico Island. If you bring your own store, you save a few dollars, but you can also rent one on the spot. On average, you pay about 50 USD per person per night. The camping option usually does not include more than the place to put the tent and meals and rides are paid separately. Many people who opt for this modality take their food from Panama City, especially cans and other non-perishable foods.

Camping in Isla Chico Island, archipelago of guna Yale or San Blas, Panama

Camping in Isla Chico

 

In my opinion, it is worth paying for the full accommodation service, which apart from the room usually includes three meals (lunch, dinner and breakfast) and two boat trips to other islands, one after breakfast and one after the lunch. In some cases only a daily walk is included. The cheapest options are on the islands near the port of Carty, such as El Parvenu, Corbiski or Abuja. In these cases, you pay about $ 85 per person per night.

 

Another option, which I do not cover in detail in this article, is to hire the services of a crewed sailboat. While this activity is banned by the General guna Congress, it is usually looked the other way as long as boat owners pay the appropriate taxes. It is a unique experience, and if you are interested in reading more about it, you can review this article about our two days on a sailboat in guna Yale.

 

Something to keep in mind is that the islands close to Carty are those with easy access by road, so it is where most of the tourism in guna Yale arrives. On weekends and holidays, it is almost impossible not to find a horde of people on these islands. If you are interested in something quieter, you can go to one of the islands that are further to the east, although the time of transfer by boat from Carty is quite high. For example, to get to Nangana, it is about 2 hours’ drive. You can opt for a plane transfer from Air Panama, taking into account that the offer of destinations is limited (see this article on how to get to San Blas). The flights open the possibilities to more expensive, nicer and better quality accommodations, such as Yandel Lodge, near Play on Chico, or Dolphin Lodge and Akwadup Lodge, near Achutupo.

 

In the end, the selection of accommodation has two important conditions to consider:

 

If you want to go by road or by plane.

The comfort of what you want to enjoy in the room, bearing in mind that the accommodation is always rustic.

 

In this article I focus on four areas of the archipelago, mentioning its advantages, disadvantages and possible accommodations to consider. There are other options outside these areas, but because these are the most frequented by tourists, I have decided to stick to them.

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