CENTRAL AMERICA NORTH AMERICA PANAMA

San Blas Islands – The Cheapest Way To Visit!

The San Blas Islands, with it’s crystal clear, turquoise waters, white sands and swaying palm trees cheats no ones idea of paradise. An archipelago of over 360 beautiful islands along the Carribean coast of Panama (enough islands for each day of the year), belongs to the Guna-Yala people (aka Kuna Yala), an autonomous territory of Panama. Within these islands, only 49 are actually inhabited.

Since researching my travels through Central America I knew I wanted to visit this incredible paradise, but didn’t think it would become a reality due to the ridiculously high prices that seemed to come with it. In my six years of traveling I have never experienced such a strong US dollar, which is making our travels this time round so much more expensive, especially as Panama uses US dollars for their currency. Our money is all in Australian so $1 USD is only, currently, worth $0.70 AUD. As I could only find tours of San Blas that cost a minimum of $500 USD, however, our dream of visiting these islands seemed impossible.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

Most tourists make the crossing between Panama and Colombia via a five day sailing  trip through the San Blas Islands. They depart from Panama City and drop you off in beautiful Cartagena, Colombia. The first three days are spent exploring the San Blas region whilst the last two days are spent entirely at sea (unless you go from Colombia, in which case it is reversed). These trips include accommodation on the boat and food for the entire five days. Prices start at $500 per person. Whilst this option sounded ideal I wasn’t too keen on spending two days at sea, and I definitely couldn’t afford it.

Most people we discussed San Blas with suggested the speed boat option, with San Blas Adventures, which completely takes out the two days of sea crossing, but then drops you off in a little town far off the gringo trail of Colombia, which will still require two days of land travel to get back to Cartagena. This option was advertised as the cheapest option, at only $375 USD but after more research I discovered that it didn’t include the jeeps from Panama city to the ports, the Guna Yala taxes, the accommodation or transport costs from the point of entry in Colombia to Cartagena etc which would then bring the total to the same prices as the sailing boats at $500 USD. Again, we simply could not afford this. With the exchange rate it was going to cost us $700 Australian per person, for three days of traveling. I couldn’t justify this.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

We had almost given up entirely on our dream to visit San Blas until our friend heard about the possibility of staying with Kuna families on the islands for only $25 a night. We did some research and found that this was absolutely the cheapest way to visit the San Blas Islands and now I want to share our information with you so you to can enjoy this beautiful paradise too, under a budget.

 

So without further ado, this is how to travel to San Blas the cheapest way possible…

 

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

 

 

HOW TO ORGANISE IT

Book a night at Mamallena hostel the night before you wish to attend the San Blas Islands (I stayed at Magnolia Inn during my time in Panama as it’s much better located but Mamallena is who you will need to organise this trip with) and ask the front desk to arrange your trip to one of the San Blas Islands. I suggest checking in no later than 3pm so you have enough time to organise this.
They have a book of Islands/Families you can choose to stay with. The most popular family, according to them, is Franklins but they were unable to get in contact with them so we ended up staying with the Ina family, which ended up being a blessing in disguise as they were awesome and the island was beautiful. I highly recommend them.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

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HOW TO GET THERE

Mamallenas will arrange for a jeep to pick you up at 5am the following morning and drive you the four hours into Guna Yala territory. The jeep will drop you off at the river for your boat transportation to the islands. Due to the conditions of the roads 4×4 Jeeps are the only option for you to get there. If you experience motion sickness, be sure to take tablets with you as the roads are very windy.
The family you will stay with will then pick you up by boat and transport you to their island.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

 

COSTS

Return 4×4 from Panama City to Kuna Yala – $60 (which is the most expensive part- they are making a killing on this).

Entry taxes to Kuna Yala – $22 in total

Boat trip to Island- $10 each way

Accommodation & 3 meals a day- $25 per person/per night

TOTAL FOR 3 NIGHTS & 4 DAYS- $177 USD (prices current at time of writing).

 

(That is less than half the price of the San Blas Adventures Tour!)

 

If like me you will have to fly from Colombia the cheapest way to do this is from Medellin, Colombia to Panama City. We flew into Panama Balboa airport with Viva Colombia. Originally the flight was $110 but upon check in at the airport they gave us a $40 refund (as we are not Colombian we apparently did not need to pay the taxes). How awesome is that?! Our flight ended up costing us only $70 each way. Even with the flight included in the prices above it is still so much cheaper!

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

 

 

WHAT TO PACK

  • Passport- you will need your original passport to gain entry into Guna Yala & to return to Panama
  • Swimmers
  • Towel
  • Suncream
  • Aloe Vera – in case you get sunburnt
  • Insect Repellant (the sand-flies are a bitch)
  • Sarong (so you can lie on the beach without getting your towel sandy)
  • A change of clothes (you will likely get your clothes wet on the boat over)
  • Snorkels
  • Snacks
  • Water (you can purchase it on the islands but it’s more expensive).
  • A book
  • A torch
  • Malaria Tablets
  • Enough Cash to last you however long you wish to stay on the island.
  • A pack of cards

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

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TAKE NOTE

Whilst it is paradise you will be traveling in a third world country on a cheap budget. It isn’t fancy by any means, you may not be given a pillow or sheets for your bed, you will get sand everywhere as the floor in your hut is the same sand as outside, their is no air-conditioning or fans, no electricity or wi-fi, you may not have the chance to shower (the Guna people would have to manually fill the shower tanks with water each night). Life in the San Blas Islands is basic and simple, but it is beautiful. Make the most of your time off the grid. Go to sleep early, wake up with the sun, go star gazing, make the most of the beautiful coral and sea life and go snorkelling. Read a book. Take a nap in a hammock. Drink from a fresh coconut. Chill out!!

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

I loved our time with the Ina family, they cooked delicious meals, the beach was beautiful and clean and they even took you on a free tour to a neighbouring island, Isla Pelicano, where you could snorkel with hundreds of Starfish. If you wish to stay three nights I also recommend organising a trip to Isla Perro, where you can snorkel above a sunken ship. It is also possible to stay at a few different islands with different families, just ask your family if they can take you to the island. Boat transfers are usually $10 each way (though this could be more depending on how far away the island is and how many of you there are). Just be sure to take enough cash with you to last you the duration of your stay. Accommodation is roughly $25-30 a night and always includes three meals a day.
Mamallena will give you a wristband with your jeep drivers phone number on it so your island family can arrange your transport back to Panama. Arrange this the night before you intend to leave.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

You may also like: The Gringo Trail of Colombia – What To See and Do! 

 

MY HIGHLIGHTS

– Our excitement when we realised the beautiful island we saw from the boat was where we would be staying.
– Seeing the Milkyway in the night sky.
– The gorgeous Coral, Fish & Starfish we saw whilst snorkelling.
– Learning about the culture and people of the Guna Yala.
– The delicious and freshly caught fish we ate for lunch each day (and how we expertly learnt to eat a whole fish properly).
– Our authentic beach huts.
– Managing to not get sunburnt the entire time.
– The excitement we all had when Charlotte saw a reef Shark.
– Playing card games with our friends and how funny they thought it was that I completely sucked at the game ‘Cheat.’
– How Andy could not manage to get sand off his feet before getting into bed, resulting in a mattress that resembled the beach.
– Being off the grid and fully embracing the simplicity of island life.

 

The Absolute Cheapest Way To Visit The San Blas Islands!

 

We are so glad that we were able to find this option as we would not have been able to afford to visit the San Blas Isands otherwise, and the San Blas Islands was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. I feel honoured that I was able to visit this beautiful part of the world, and meet and interact with the Guna Yala people, before the sea levels rise and they disappear forever.

 

 

Over to you! Did you find this post useful?
Will you use my method to save hundreds of dollars?
If you have visited the San Blas Islands, if so did you love it too?
Let me know in the comments below! 

 

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70 Comments

  • Reply Mira 11/09/2018 at 7:18 am

    Is the option of staying in San Blas at a family’s house still possible? I read the comments and I’m not sure it is.
    I found that the cheapest accommodation on the Franklin Island is 45 $ a night. Not including a 90$ fee to arrive+ all entry fees to this Island. Can someone give me the latest update?

    Also even entering the water what do you do there with all your valuables? The rooms are shared and looks like they barely have a door. And you have to bring cash and cell phone to the island so where do you keep it ?

    • Reply Cynthia 18/12/2018 at 11:00 pm

      Hi Mira, I am visiting Panama for Christmas this year to get off the grid and really hope to go to the San Blas myself. I am backpacking solo and on a budget so the Kuna family stay sounds amazing. Did you find out any current info on that option? I cant find anything on the web. Thanks.

      • Reply William 19/12/2018 at 12:46 am

        Hey Cynthia and Mira

        It is still possible, but you do not stay in a Guna house, you stay in tourist cabanas, proper home stays were back in the beginning when very few people went to the islands 10-15 years ago, now its set up for tourism. The person who did this blog stayed in a tourist cabana, everywhere in san blas is run by a Guna family per say as no foreigners can run a business in the islands, so in that respect your hosts are always locals, but its not like a homestay. For example Inas will probably have 30-50ppl over the Chrismas period staying in their cabanas and the island its on maybe 100 or more tourists, same for franklins, its an island with maybe 30 or more cabanas covering every inch, well over 100 people on an island you can walk around in 5 minutes. Below is current pricing +$90 4×4 transport and boat, $22 entrance fees an additional costs like beach taxes, drinks, snorkel equipment, tours all need to be factored in. You can book at mamallena hostel in Panama City. As for valuables yes you just have to leave it in your cabana or ask them to look after them, they are generally very honest, if you get robbed much more likely to be a fellow traveler. Mamallena tour desk offers other options too, a little bit more expensive but more included and private cabanas with better security, there is also an island that does not hold more than 20ppl usually and the island is much nicer than Franklins or Inas, but its much more expensive, Just depends what your willing to pay for the experience.

        3 meals a day included
        1.Inas (Dorm $25pp per night, Private 2ppl $60 per night)
        2. Franklins (Dorm $31pp per night, Private 2ppl $70 per night)

        • Reply Cynthia 19/12/2018 at 1:16 am

          William, Thank you so much for the updated info. I will check out the options when I arrive at mamallenos. Its kinda sad that the islands are overrun with so many tourists now…..and I am becoming a part of that problem if I go. But as an anthropologist, it has always been a dream of mine. That and the Darien Gap…which I’ve had to accept is just too dangerous for me to go right now. Are you from Panama? I’d love any inside advice. I’ll be there 1 week and have no itinerary yet but will plan it as I go. Thanks.

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  • Reply Jade Joass 06/05/2018 at 3:44 am

    Note that Mamallena no longer seem to offer a choose your own family option, even though their website still provides this information. They only offer the Ultimate San Blas adventure which is significantly higher in price than many other companies.
    We sadly learnt this the hard way by booking accommodation at Mamallena and then enquiring about the San Blas tour after arrival. If we’d known prior we would have stayed elsewhere.. and needless to say based on the prices we will be looking to another company for the San Blas tour.
    Also I agree with other comments that it would be a good idea to take down the starfish photo. Wild animals should never be touched unless injured and need to be rescued/assisted. It’s not normal to approach and touch other animals in the wild so I don’t understand why people think it’s ok to pick up a starfish? I’m sure it was harmless but people need to be educated to respect wildlife and this image doesn’t promote that. So much irreversible damage can be done in these interactions so we need to work at improving the situation and admiring these creatures without touching.

    • Reply William 13/05/2018 at 12:03 am

      Mamallena still offers a stay in Franklins or Inas. These are the cheapest options in the islands. We just dont really sell it as a homestay anymore because that is not what it is, its just cabanas on the island looked after by Guna hosts (the hosts change from time to time but name stays the same), Franklins can hold over 60ppl now Inas less. But its not like a traditional homestay. Sorry you were not offered this Jade. I will make sure that does not happen again.

      Mamallena also sells the Ultimate tour which is great value for money if you want to see more of the islands, unlike Inas an Franklins all taxes are included, water included, drinks included, daily tours included, snorkeling equipment included, frisbee and other games included, 2 times a week cuba libre party included and more. So yes for sure its more expensive but a lot of people want to do more than stay on one island and this we find is the best and cheapest way to do it. We are the only hostel selling this tour and no other tour includes the same at a better price in this location. You now also get a free dorm be for 1 night at mamallena when booking this tour.

      But for sure if you want a cheap stay and not interested in doing too much in the islands and happy to pay for everything as you go along Franklins and Inas are the way to go and mamallena is happy to book them. You just pay $60 4×4 transport and a $10 booking fee and everything else you pay as you go along. Prices have gone up a little bit, but only a few dollars.

  • Reply Pauline 12/01/2018 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing sasha!! So the jeep transport is 30 USD per person one way? 60 USD two ways? Orherwise I don’t get the total of 177 USD. Thanks again!!

  • Reply Janet 10/09/2017 at 6:41 pm

    DON’T PICK UP THE STARFISH! They DIE once they are at the surface as they expand with air and cannot sink back down to the bottom. Please take down that photo of you and the starfish and replace it with something else like maybe a warning to RESPECT all living creatures, find out about them, and not kill them for that perfect photo. If every tourist did what you did the end result will be no more starfish there, as in the decimation of starfish on Playa Estrella in Bocas Del Toro. If you are going to write a blog then do it responsibly and don’t mess with the local sea creatures or wildlife. You wouldn’t pick up a spider in Australia for a photo so why an innocent, but now very dead starfish?

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 20/09/2017 at 12:30 pm

      Thanks for your concern and lovely comment but please look closely at the photo, the starfish was never taken out of the water, it remains under the surface of the water….

      • Reply Rinal 20/12/2017 at 1:42 am

        Hey Sasha, great post! It would be awesome if you could add line below the two starfish pictures telling readers not to take the starfish out of water. The pictures may encourage more people to do the same and some might be ignorant to the fact that the sea stars die when lifted out of water.

  • Reply Mel 05/09/2017 at 11:36 pm

    Hi,

    Thanks for the awesome article. Did you find you needed to be able to speak Spanish to do this route? Or do the families you stay with speak a little English?
    Thanks!

  • Reply Kira Lungley 01/07/2017 at 2:04 am

    Hi,

    Enjoyed reading your blog, good to know there are cheaper options! Just wondering if you know if there would be a way to get to Colombia after visiting the islands?

    • Reply Ina 22/07/2017 at 5:27 pm

      Hi,

      I know how to travel fom Panama to Colombia the most economical way while staying on the San Blas Islands.

      Take a Jeep from Panama to Carti: 25 USD (one way)
      Entrance into Guna Yala: 20 USD
      In Carti you can buy a boat ticket to one of the nearby islands: 25 – 35 USD (both ways)
      Accomodation on the islands (negotiable): approx. 20 USD (you can bring your own food, bring a gallon of water)
      Take a boat from Carti to Puerto Obaldia: 100 USD (the migration for your stamp out of Panama is in Puerto Obaldia)
      Take a boat from Puerto Obaldia to Capurgana (10 USD)
      Get your stamp into Colombia in Capurgana at the migration. Enjoy Capurgana a few days.
      Take a boat from Capurgana to Necocli: approx. 30 USD
      In Necoocli are buses waiting for you to Cartagena or Medellin: 40 – 50 USD

      That’s the best way to cross the border, safe money and see the islands. I have done it, it’s great. If you need more info let me know.

      • Reply Sarah 23/12/2018 at 9:58 pm

        hey Ina,
        my boyfriend and me would like to do this trip to capurgana. Do you know if the boats from carti are running every day?do i have to book it in advance?Did you book the Jeep at a hostel or is there another possibility?
        All the best
        Sarah

        • Reply Anne van Huis 10/02/2019 at 5:08 pm

          Hi Sarah, we’re also thinking about this trip. Did you do it already? I would love to hear your experiences 🙂 Thanks! Anne

          • Cynthia 10/02/2019 at 9:16 pm

            I had a very unusual experience when I went there over Christmas that I am reluctant to share but I guess we should share the good and the bad so people can be better informed. So my plan was to island hop the San Blas for 2 days/nights and then from there to Capurgana. I was told by a hostel to go to the port of Carti and ask around and book a trip directly with a captain there. I found a captain who agreed for a price of $200 total. I paid him upfront because he demanded that (don’t do that!!) and 15 minutes later I was brought to a garbage dump island to a man named Señor Negro (if someone mentions his name, run!). He informed me that he would not bring me to any San Blas is

          • Cynthia 10/02/2019 at 9:23 pm

            Sorry it posted too early. Anyway as I was saying, he would not bring me to any San Blas islands and if I wanted to get off his Island he would take me to capurgana for $1,200. He said he had nothing to do with the 200 I already paid and that that wasn’t his fault that the guy ripped me off, but I know that was a lie. He is basically a pirate who kidnaps you and keeps you there in a concrete cell until you pay his ranso had other”prisoners” there, a Mexican man with a motorcycle who had paid $700 to have him and his motorcycle brought to Columbia but instead was brought to this island. He had been there five days already

          • Eva Lopez 20/04/2019 at 9:35 pm

            Hi,
            replying directly to Cynthias post. I’ve been visiting the San Blas islands now for many years a few times a year and spend weeks/months at a time there.

            I think what had happened to Cynthia must have been a misunderstanding, although a very unfortunate one. Negro does indeed organize boats that go to Puerto Obaldía, however there is no regular schedule so he usually takes people to his home to wait there until the next boat is leaving. This can take a few days, sometimes a week (especially during that time – December to March the waves are high and the seas are rough so boats sometimes wait a few days until the sea is calmer). The trip is very expensive, do not expect to pay less than $100 (USD), usually it is quite a bit more. In the case of the guy with the motor cycle: if noone else could be found to join the trip (neither locals nor tourists), the $700 are absolutely reasonable for bringing only 1 tourist to Puerto Obaldía (think: 1-way gasoline is a few hundred dollars plus you need at least a crew of 2 people).
            The place where Negro lives is the main village, called Carti. This is what all the island-villages in San Blas look like: every square meter is covered by little huts (usually from bamboo, nowadays some from concrete), unfortunately a lot of plastic everywhere. These islands do not have any beach or palm trees (and you do not want to swim there for obvious reasons).
            If people online discuss cheap options to travel to Colombia, this is what you will be getting: paying at least $100 or more, sometimes waiting in the villages for days until a boat leaves and making stops only in such villages but not on the islands. The boat trip takes 6-8 hours or more, depending on how many people are dropped off on the way in villages, with maybe a lunch stop included but no beach time. You might be able to negotiate waiting on one of the nearby tourist islands until there is a boat, but you will certainly have to pay extra for the drop-off and pick-up there. On the plus-side, you can make it in one day from Carti to Puerto Obaldía. From there you will have to do immigration and then organize another boat that will bring you to Sapzurro and then Capurgana (ca. 30mins). Boats from Panama will not be able to drop you off in Capurgana, but can only go to Sapzurro due to a border agreement, and you will have to do lengthy migration in Puerto Obaldía.

            There is two alternatives to the Negro-Option (he is a nice actually, Cynthia unfortunately had a bad experience):

            – San Blas Frontera: local Kuna company, running cabins in San Blas and leaving every Monday for roughly $300 incl. pick-up in Panama City (3-day island hopping, sleeping on the islands in cabins)

            – San Blas Adventures: famous operator, foreign company, different departure dates, $475 incl. pick-up in Panama City (4-day island hopping, also sleeping on the islands but i have heard in rougher conditions), more for the party/very young crowd

            If you do not want to do this, you can also fly to Puerto Obaldía and then take a boat yourself across the border. I would not recommend sailing because the Guna congress has forbidden sailing boats to take on tourists. As a work-around, tourists are brought from the port to some random uninhabited islands, dropped of there and then have to wait for their sailing ship to pick them (or not??) – besides undermining the local law and economy, not sure if I would enjoy being left all by myself on a lonely island without knowing if I will be picked up or not and no phone connection…

            I really hope this helped!
            Eva

  • Reply Kyle 07/06/2017 at 8:21 pm

    Is your pricing breakdown per person or for two people? My gf and I would love to be able to do what you did!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 08/06/2017 at 12:03 pm

      Yep the prices were per person. You should definitely do it, it was an incredible experience and most definitely the cheapest way to do it!

  • Reply Lauren 07/04/2017 at 4:03 am

    Thanks guys! Think I’m going to follow your advice and try to get over to San Blas this way. I am going solo, so I feel a bit weird, but hopefully I meet people at the hostel that are going!? Looking forward to it as your pictures are absolutely stunning! 🙂

  • Reply Claire 15/03/2017 at 9:39 pm

    Very helpful! I’ve been struggling to figure out how to do this on a budget, thank you!

  • Reply franzi 08/03/2017 at 3:39 pm

    Many, many thanks for sharing, Sasha! I’m currently planning my trip to central america and was close to give up my dream of visiting this beautiful place on earth!

    much x

  • Reply Lien 10/02/2017 at 4:39 am

    Hi Sasha, thanks for your info. I live in Colombia for a year and got a flight the 17th to Panama (i booked it long time ago because i needed it to leave to Colombia). By reading your blog i desided to do the same as you!Also i don’t know how to get back from San Blas to Colombia? I don’t want to be on the expencive boats to Cartagena.. So any tips there?
    @ Marisol: Do i get easily to the Coiba islands? Can i sleep there?

  • Reply Marisol 05/02/2017 at 12:33 am

    I got so emotional to read this as I am a proud panamanian girl. This blog was so helpful even for me!! I leave very near the Mamallena hostel but Ive never heard of this kind of accomodation. It was very insteresting! If you ever come back, make sure to visit Coiba Island which used to be a jail😱
    Lots of love from Panama

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 06/02/2017 at 12:55 pm

      Oh thanks so much Marisol, I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this blog post. Panama is one beautiful country, so glad you are proud of it! Coiba Island sounds super interesting, I’ll be sure to keep it in mind!
      Sasha

  • Reply Chantal 15/01/2017 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Sasha,
    Thanks so much for sharing! And wow, you ve amazing pictures! I was wondering which month you went to the San blas islands? Maybe you also know which months it is better to avoid the San blas? I search a lot, but can t find how the weather is in May (end of May)… Only That it could be raining in Colombia, but nothing specific about the San blas. Thanks a lot though!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 16/01/2017 at 1:53 pm

      Hey,

      I visited in September. I was supposedly in Central America during rain season but had pretty good weather except for a few days in Guatemala, I had a few clouds usually in the morning in San Blas but by 11am or so it was usually quite clear. I believe the driest season is January and February however. Hope this helps 🙂

  • Reply Jay 08/01/2017 at 9:56 pm

    i am going there soon. Trying to find a way to avoid the 4×4 costs. Is the road from Interamericana possible to bike? It’s just 40k to the port. Any idea?

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 12/01/2017 at 5:16 pm

      Hm I’m not sure to be honest, from memory the road was very bumpy (a few of us got quite motion sick). You would probably still get charged to enter the Kuna Yala region though. If you do it please let me know how you get on.

  • Reply Sinat 30/12/2016 at 11:20 pm

    Make it even cheaper, bring your tent. Payed like 15$ a night including all meals.
    And another highlight: Glowing plancton! 🙂

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 05/01/2017 at 3:10 pm

      Glowing Plancton, you got lucky. What time of year were you there and which Island did you stay at? Did you do the same process as I did? Tent is a great tip, thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Natasha 17/01/2017 at 11:11 pm

      Hi,

      We are looking at taking our tent and camping in march but cant really find any info, can you let me know how you organised it and if you can just turn up/ get dropped off at certain islands? Any information really would be great!

      • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 24/01/2017 at 1:48 pm

        Hi Natasha, I don’t know if you were writing this to me or the reader above you. The islands are very narrow and often don’t have a lot of space for your tents (I think they would charge you the same too to be honest as the huts are very basic) but if you do camp there I would love for you to give me an update on how it went.
        Sasha

  • Reply Susan Ford 07/12/2016 at 5:30 am

    Hi Sasha:
    I’m wondering about going out there for some serious R & R. Is it party free?
    Thanks for any help you can provide.
    Susan

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/12/2016 at 1:31 pm

      Hi Susan. The island that I was on was definitely party free. The crowd was mixed but mostly young but teh beauty of tge islands was that we would wake with the sunrise and sleep with the sunset so it was quite relaxing. Hopefully it hasn’t changed much in the last year.
      Sasha

  • Reply Love from scotland 04/11/2016 at 6:00 pm

    What amazing photos! I’d never heard of these islands before and now really want to go. Such a great idea to stay with the family as you work with them for tourism on the islands.

  • Reply Natalie 04/11/2016 at 2:18 pm

    Enough islands to visit one each day for an entire year. Wouldn’t that be amazing? You should do that and write a book! 🙂 This looks so pretty and a respite from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/11/2016 at 4:39 pm

      That is a good idea, actually haha. I know, it is literally paradise! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Reply Jenn and Ed Coleman 04/11/2016 at 5:32 am

    What a fantastic find. Too often we associate beaches with luxury and opulence when, by their nature, they are fleeting and whimsical. Up until the advent of full coverage insurance, the only suitable buildings for beaches where huts. The lifestyle was simple, fresh and clean. It seems like you have found the paradise befuddled Milton.

  • Reply Natasha Welch 03/11/2016 at 10:14 pm

    Whoa never heard of the San Blas Islands before now but they sure sound (and look) amazing! Well done on your super budgeting, you really shaved a lot of money off that with your plan. Amazing pictures <3

  • Reply Lydia@LifeUntraveled 03/11/2016 at 9:27 pm

    I didn’t know visiting the San Blas Islands was so expensive but thanks for sharing a cheaper (and better) way of staying on these paradisiac islands. This is making me want to escape the awful Canadian winter even more (though our dollar is worth even less than the AUS which sucks!!).

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/11/2016 at 4:40 pm

      So glad this post has inspired you! We had been living in Canada prior to traveling there and so exchanged our money into Aus before departing. I feel your pain. But at least the flights are way cheaper from Canada!

  • Reply Cliodhna Ryan 03/11/2016 at 8:38 pm

    Wow that looks like paradise. I would love to read more about your stay with the family and the Guna Yala people in general. What was their culture like? I had never even heard of the San Blas islands but your post makes it sound worth the extra effort to get there.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/11/2016 at 4:41 pm

      Good idea, maybe I will make a most about it all. It was an incredible experience! Thanks for reading.

  • Reply Tyler Ward 03/11/2016 at 7:35 pm

    Your pictures are aaaamaazing! Never heard of this location until now, officially adding it to my list!

  • Reply Ivy 03/11/2016 at 7:27 pm

    I’ve never heard of San Blas before- I’m so glad I read this!! It does look like paradise indeed. I looooove beautiful beaches and turquoise waters so this is totally up my alley. And GIRL how do you open your eyes underwater? Doesn’t it sting?!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 07/11/2016 at 4:45 pm

      Yay, I am so glad I have introduced you to a new place! I can’t remember it stinging to be fair but I think I wore my goggles most of the time 🙂

  • Reply Suz 03/11/2016 at 7:03 pm

    Oh my goodness, this looks incredible!! Your photos are stunning; that Milky Way shot? I died! It sounds like it would be so cool to stay with a family on one of the islands – way more interesting and fulfilling than just doing a tour. This sounds like such an interesting place to visit, thank you so much for sharing! I’ll have to add this to my wanderlust list!

  • Reply Christine 31/10/2016 at 2:09 pm

    This is just what I needed! Heading there in a couple of days and was floored at the prices. Thanks for the tips!

  • Reply Anja Beckmann 30/09/2016 at 10:46 pm

    Hello Sasha,

    Thank you so much for your article! It was a great help to plan my Panama trip.

    Cheers
    Anja

  • Reply Arlette 21/06/2016 at 10:31 pm

    Thank you so much for all the info. I’m traveling on August and this is really helpful.
    XO

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 25/06/2016 at 9:52 pm

      I’m so glad you found this helpful! Thanks so much for reading and please do let me know how you get on! Have fun!

  • Reply Lee 14/01/2016 at 1:29 am

    Stumbled across this great post planning my San blas trip. I’m in same boat re dollar and can’t justify 700aud or the trip. How is your Spanish? Was it hard communicating with the kuna family? My Spanish is ok. But far from great. Cheers.

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 14/01/2016 at 5:34 pm

      Hi Lee,
      I’m so glad you found this post helpful. My Spanish is average, I know enough to get by but am no means fluent. The Kuna are pretty used to backpackers visiting them so from memory their English is pretty good, in fact I think it might even be better than their Spanish as they have their own Kuna languages they use instead. Hope this helps.
      Happy Travels, Sasha

  • Reply Kata 25/11/2015 at 5:20 pm

    Hola! I just looked at Mamallenas webpage, and found this; http://www.mamallenatoursandtravel.com/the-ultimate-san-blas-tour/

    Is it the one you are refering to? Seems unbeliveable that the price changed so much only since september? :O From 177 to 269…

    Thanks for the tips!

    • Reply Seven Continents Sasha 27/11/2015 at 2:03 am

      Hi Kata,
      That was a different website to the one I originally found. This is the one I found months ago http://www.mamallena.com/sanblasisland.html they mention on there that you can either book it independently or do it on the new group tour, which sounds like the one you found. That website though was a bit off prices with the taxes as it was $22 for us, not $12 but everything else sounds the same as my trip. It is now peak season in Central America though so do note that prices could have gone up, as you’ll find hostels, tours and even restaurants put up prices during peak periods. This is just a guess though, I’m not entirely sure on current prices. I would show up to the hostel as I mentioned din the blog as I don’t think you can pre- arrange it unless you plan to do the more expensive group tour and if they try an charge much extra show them their website.
      Hope this helps 🙂
      Sasha

      • Reply Kata 27/11/2015 at 3:29 am

        Thank you for the help! I will contact the hostel, I think that is the easiest way. Have a safe trip! 🙂

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