info2 San Blas Islands Guide

Check our guide to the San Blas Islands, discover the amazing history of Guna Yala Plus our top tips when visiting and all available tours

San Blas Islands Day TourSan Blas islands day trip

If you don’t have the time for an over night visit to the San Blas Islands, then think about a San Blas Islands day tour.

During your San Blas day tour you will normally visit two islands including Isla Perro and the ship wreck where there are ample opportunities to snorkel the wreck and surrounding reefs or just relax in the shallows. There may be an opportunity to visit one of the Guna Yala communities.

The Ultimate San Blas TourSan Blas islands day trip

Our NEW 3 day and 2 night San Blas island tour is fast becoming the best option for people wanting to explore the islands and have a fun filled experience with English speaking guide. We have activities that include snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, ultimate Frisbee, boogie boarding, barbecue, cocktails and more. Camp meters from the waters edge with a beautiful clean beach. Interact with the locals and enjoy the trip of a lifetime in one of the few remaining desert island paradises.


San Blas Islands 3 Day Camping TourSan Blas Islands

Our 2 or 3 day San Blas island tours give you a combination of enjoying the stunning Lemon Cays island region and remote areas such as the Cayos Holandeses islands. These camping tours are unique to Panama Travel Unlimited and one of the few tours to visit the Cayos Holandeses, one of the most scenic yet rustic destinations in the San Blas islands. During the San Blas tour you could see manta-rays, dolphins, and sharks.


San Blas Hotels & CabanasSan Blas Hotel

The Guna people of San Blas islands offer a variety of accommodation to suit almost every budget. The more expensive options usually provide better views, comfy beds, private full bathrooms, running water, and better food. The more basic options will be a little more bare-bones. Some offer little more than a hut in the sand, few have running water, and most only offer shared baths. Some of the less expensive options are still located on beautiful white sand islands, while others are located among local communities.

The San Blas Islands, white sand beaches, palm trees, rustic cabins by the sea, this is where you come to get away from it all. Barely any visitor to Panama leaves without visiting these islands and once you see, you will know why.

The San Blas archipelago, or Comarca Guna Yala, comprise of 365 small islands (one for everyday of the year they say) stretching along the Caribbean coat of Panama. They were granted autonomous status in 1925 following a revolt and subsequent peace treaty with the Panamanian government. They are self governed by an elected congresso, each one of the 40 or so inhabited islands has a ‘chief’ representative to this congresso.

In order  to protect their community traditions and way of life they do not allow any  form of foreign land ownership or businesses, including Panamanians. Only some communities have running water and cooking methods are still traditional over open fires.  Most families  sleep in hammocks in communal areas inside huts and many women still wear brightly coloured clothing, wide skirts and multi-coloured beaded bracelets wrapped the whole length of their lower legs and arms.

If you are visiting Panama then the San Blas Islands are probably on your ‘to see’ list. Check out or tips below to make the most of your time and prepare yourself.

Getting There

From mainland Panama the most common way to and from Guna Yala is by 4×4 vehicle to/from Panama City. As with everything in the San Blas Islands transportation in and out is governed by the Congresso of Guna Yala. No private or public transport vehicles are allowed into the territory only Guna operated/permitted vehicles to the mainland port of Carti where boat transfers await to the islands.

Tip: Be prepared to wait for your morning pick-up. Journeys are shared so the driver will be visiting other hostels/hostels. If you are advised to be ready at 05:00am don’t be surprised or worry if they arrive quite some time later.

Customs and Respect

The indigenous people of Guna Yala are extremely proud and protective of their identity and culture. When you are visiting you should always remember you are a visitor to an indigenous area with unique laws and customs.


  • Coconuts are part if the Guna economy and should not be taken from the ground without permission.
  • If you are visiting a village both men and women should wear shorts and T-shirt rather than walking around in only swim wear
  • While swimming do not take starfish from the water.
  • Many islands have issues with trash. When you leave an area make sure you take any trash with you.
  • You should always ask permission before taking a photo of somebody, and in some cases you may be asked for a small payment, especially women in traditional dress.

Interacting with the locals

The people of Guna Yala are genuinely hospitable however you should always remember their culture is vastly different to what you will be used to.

  • “Customer service” levels are most likely not going  to be what you are used to. Try to be patient if you find yourself waiting for a long time for a transfer. You may also experience a lack of communication from your guide regarding the plan during your tour.
  • You should always ask permission before taking a photo of somebody, and in some cases you may be asked for a small payment, especially women in traditional dress.
  • Local village children are extremely friendly and will pay you a lot of attention. Small candys are a useful way of making them happy. Other more useful gifts such as pens, coloring crayons etc will also be very welcome.

Tip: Get ready to practice your Spanish. Very few people in Guna Yala speak English that most likely includes your guides.