When we traveled to Panama, we were very clear that we were going to go to San Blas, to visit those more than three hundred islands, or rather islets, in the territory of the Guna Yala. But what we were not so clear about was which island to visit, where to stay or how to arrange accommodation in San Blas.
How to go to San Blas
After spending a few days in Bocas del Toro, and after spending more than eight hours in a night bus, we arrived in Panama City, and there, on the fly, our search began.
With this article, I hope to help you make your search easier than it was for us.
Accommodation in San Blas
As I mentioned above, in San Blas there are as many islands as there are days in the year, but not all of them are suitable to stay in.
Normally, one or several Guna Yala families live on the islands and they are the owners of the cabins where the visitors stay, that is, they manage everything.
Best hotels in San Blas
Well, the first thing you have to think about is what kind of island you are looking for, since there are the most remote ones, which are the least crowded, the most peaceful and the most paradisiacal.
Or closer to the coast, with more accommodation on offer, but many more people.
Obviously, the further away the island is, the more expensive it is to stay there.
We stay on this tiny little island paradise.
Where there were few cabins and a long beach to sunbathe, plus incredible snorkeling possibilities.
We saw all kinds of marine fauna, and in really good conditions.
Three Guna Yala families live on this island, and our accommodation in San Blas was with one of them, in the so-called Wichudub Cabins.
Maybe you’re thinking about how we got in touch with them and got a place to stay.
Well, since we had to stay one night in Panama City, we looked for an accommodation, Hostel El Machico, where we knew that they organized the trip and stay in these islands.
So when we got there, they told us about all the options they worked with for accommodation, among which was the island of Chichimé, and specifically the Wichudub Cabins.
So, from the hostel, they took charge of the transportation to and from the port of Cartí, where a boat was waiting to take us to this island.
Now, we pay more money than it would have cost us if we had hired him directly from this family, specifically from Argelio, which is the person in charge of the cabins.
He told us that they have Guna Yala drivers in Panama City, who take care of the transfers, and by hiring them for the stay, we would have saved ourselves an intermediary.
San Blas accommodation
For this reason, he passed on his contact to us, in case in the future we would meet other travelers who would like to reach this paradise.
The cabins are obviously basic, with beds and mosquito nets, but the bathrooms and showers are separate.
In the end, it’s about living an experience as close as they do, and enjoying a paradise like that.
You can take a look at this article we wrote about our experience in Chichimé, a paradise in San Blas, Panama.
Other islands of San Blas
You could spend a year sleeping on a different island every day, until you get to know the 365 islands that make up this archipelago.
Besides the island of Chichimé, which is the only one we know, but which we loved, there are others.
Very crowded islands
The most famous islands, and therefore the most popular, are
- Isla Senidup
- Isla Diablo
- Isla Perro Grande
- Isla Aroma
- Isla Perro Chico.
That there are so many people, among other reasons is because they are very close to the main port Carti.
That means that the prices are lower, but it also means that they are very crowded.
And San Blas is very popular in Panama, not only for foreigners, but also for Panamanians.
If you don’t have a lot of budget, but you don’t want to stop visiting the paradise, they are a good option.
In any case, once you’re on an island, the main plan is usually to take boat trips to other islands.
So you will be able to see more places apart from the island where you are staying.
As we haven’t been there, we can’t offer you anyone’s contact, but wherever you stay in Panama City, they can offer you different accommodation options there.
Very quiet islands
The Dutch Keys and Chichimé Island are the quietest islands in San Blas.
They are the islands furthest from the port of Carti.
If it takes us an hour by boat to get to Chichimé, to the Dutch Keys, add a little more.
The good thing about it is that there won’t be many people, and the atmosphere will be very relaxed.
Besides, in this area, there are many islets where you can do a very good snorkeling.
But you are guaranteed to feel a little Robinson Crusoe in a spectacular place.
Go to San Blas on your own
You may be wondering if it is possible to go to San Blas on your own and find accommodation directly there.
Well, I think this depends a lot on the time you have.
You can get to San Blas, to the port of Carti, but it’s not easy.
I don’t have information about how to get to the Panamerican Highway crossing where you take the detour, Nusagandi, to Carti.
Perhaps at the Albrook bus station in Panama City you will have this information.
But also, you have to bear in mind, that the Nusagandi road can only be driven with a 4×4.
There are travellers who comment that they arrived at a stopover.
I don’t think there was a big problem, but apart from the time you need, you have to take into account other factors.
If you go on a weekend, the chances of getting picked up by a stop car are higher, as there are more people doing this route.
If you go in the rainy season, besides having fewer cars, you can get a good shower.
For us, who had just enough time, it meant too much logistics, so we ruled out this option.
If you want to know more about the Guna Yala, you can read this article that we wrote about their history, current customs, and more things that I think are very interesting, San Blas, Guna Yala territory.