Hop a flight to Panama.
Catch a jeep to the coast.
Cruise out into the Caribbean.
Pass millions of tiny islands
decide which to call your own.
Step foot on the white powder shore
swim in the pristine green sea
switch off your cell
it won’t work here
forget about email, social media, the news
simply relax and enjoy life
free from digital distraction.
Eat freshly caught lobster
bathed in butter and coconut
wash your dishes with sand in the sea.
Gather around a bonfire
with the few other island dwellers
share stories under a sky littered with stars.
Crawl into your hut
with sand for a floor
away from the sounds of the world.
Rise in the morning
with nothing to do
but throw on a snorkel
or get lost in a book
to the native Kuna Yalas
who keep San Blas precious
who keep San Blas pure.
How to Arrive
Air Panama flights leave daily from Panama City and cost $45-60 each way. From the airport you take a panga to the island where you plan to stay.
Jeeps leave Panama City every morning, cost $60 round trip, and take 2.5 hours to reach the coast. From there you take a 1-2 hour panga, $20-30 round trip, to the island of your choice.
How to Book
The islands are small and space is limited. Plan ahead to secure your stay on the island of your choice. Book through Luna’s Castle or Mama Illena in Panama City.
Where to Stay
My favorite island in San Blas is Chichaemae. It is tiny, gorgeous, and everything San Blas represents. Accomodations are very modest and inexpensive, development is nonexistent. Other islands range from backpacker party havens to pricey couples getaways to completely desolate.
Read more about the different islands here.
What to Bring
A few changes of comfortable clothes and bathing suits
Washing laundry is not an option so bring enough to feel comfortable, but pack light.
You will be required to show your passport when entering the islands.
All natural shampoo, conditioner, and soap
Most of the islands do not have showers. If you’d still like to wash with soap bring all natural products so that you can bathe in the ocean without having an environmental impact.
Meals are included but tend to be very simple: fish, coconut rice, and salad. If you’d like to add flavor bring your own hot sauce or other condiments. There is no food for purchase on the island, so if you are a big eater or a picky eater bring your own snacks. Crackers, peanut butter, bread, granola bars, anything that does not require refrigeration, which is not available on the islands.
You may purchase bottled water on the island, but it is expensive and some of it tastes like dirt. Coconut water, beer, and rum are also available, but expensive as well.
The Cost Breakdown
$60-120 for transportation to the islands (jeep vs flight)
$20-30 for boat transport to your island, round trip
$13 for entrance fees and taxes
$25-45/day includes accommodation and food
$0-20 per day on drinks and alcohol
Cost to Arrive: $93-$163 round trip
Cost to Stay: $25-65 per day
On a rainy day in Seattle these pictures are torture! It looks so beautiful!
On a rainy day in the jungle I find myself yearning to be there too. It’s really a very special unique place.
You seriously need to produce a calendar from these pics!
You are too kind.
Wow, not much else to say!
It’s a very very special place Forest 🙂
This looks like the perfect getaway to completely relax! Sign me up!
That it is Annette!
I am going to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. We have 5 weeks. The trip is very loosely planned other than a 6 day stage race along the pacific coast of Costa Rica. After 230km I will be looking for some R&R. My orignal plan was to head to Bocos del Toro, but these stunning pictures of San Blas are telling me we need to include it in our trip. How easy is it to get to this place from Peurto Veijo? Is it easy to travel along in Panama? 🙂
I figured it out. Flying from San Jose to Panama city, then going to take a jeep to the coast. Thank you so much for all your information. I love your blog, I have been reading it!! Your views on life are fantastic. Yoga, time alone and meditation will do that to you I suppose. 🙂 Happy travels!
Aw thank you Hailey! Glad you figured out how to get to San Blas. It’s definitely in my top five places I’ve been in the world. Pure magic. Good luck and keep me updated on our trip, it sounds amazing!
Your pictures are amazing! Do you think we can use them under your name on our website about San Blas? We already have some nice pictures on our picture page but never enough!
Amazing writeup Camille! Just convinced my friends to go to San Blas instead of Europe almost solely due to this post : )
Just wondering how can we book Chichaemae like you suggested? Contacted both hostels per your recommendation but no dice : (
Would appreciate any suggestions! Hope you are enjoying your yoga retreat!
Awesome! Thanks Tim you will LOVE it!! Hm, unfortunately I’m not sure of the other ways to book it… In Panama City there will likely be tour desks and it may be easier to handle in person? Sorry I don’t have a better answer :/
No worries! Once I find it I’ll post it here for the benefit of your other readers too. Thanks again for the great blog! Hope costa rica is treating you well.
i didn’t see the island Chichaemae on luna castle.. how did you find it? and which island(s) are your pictures from?
Hm I’m not sure why it’s not on the website but if you call Luna’s Castle and ask about Chichaemae they can help you book it. The photos are of Dog Island, Chicahemae, and Whysadalup.
okay thank you so much! how long would you recommend staying i was thinking 6 days but wasn’t sure if that was too long. And which island is the best for parties and back packers?
Just call Luna’s Castle and ask for Kevin. He’ll answer all your questions.
Great thanks for the reference Justine 🙂
I think 6 days is a great amount of time, you can also divide it between different islands. I’m not sure which are the backpacker islands as I wanted to stay on the quieter more remote ones.
Hi! First of all, my friend and I love all your posts and have taken lots of travel advice from, you! We have traveled all over Costa Rica and took our most recent trip last year to Puerto Viejo and then crossed the border to end up at Bastimentos and stayed at the AL Natural Lodge. This year (next month, actually)we want to visit the san blas islands.
We will fly into panama city and take your advice by heading over in a jeep and spending a few days. We are at a loss as to what else to do in Panama after that. We really like non-resort places and would love to fit in one or two more destinations to this 10 day trip. do you have any ideas?? we value your opinion tremendously!!
Thank you so much Shari I’m really happy to hear how much my advice has helped you! I wish I could tell you more for Panama… frankly I haven’t been to many places in the country 🙁 I’ve heard good things about Santa Catalina and Boquete but I’m not speaking from personal experience… OH or you could take a boat from San Blas to some of the beaches in Northern Colombia??
I can recommend you to contact Francesco from Panamore.org ; he can organise and find you a sailboat to San Blas or Cartagena wether you are by foot, motorcycle or bike!! 🙂 his cell is +507 6739 1685 (he’s got whatsapp!!) or at firstname.lastname@example.org , he’ll happily answer all your questions and help you out! 😀
nice pictures bty!! 😉
Great thanks so much for sharing!
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