OUR MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

GENERAL INFO

What is San Blas Frontera?

San Blas Frontera is a local tour operator, offering authentic day trips and overnight stays to the San Blas islands in Panama as well as 3-day boat rides to and from Colombia through the San Blas islands. We run our own island cabins and speed boats, have over ten years of experience in tourism in San Blas and are continuously aiming at offering a highly professional service to our clients.

How are you different from other tour operators?
Contrary to many tour operators in San Blas, our company is not a foreign or Panamenian company but founded, owned and managed by Kunas only, the indigenous tribe inhabiting the Comarca Kuna Yala (San Blas). We know the islands, the local customs and the communities best. We closely collaborate with local communities and reinvest profits to support local development.
What is a visit to the San Blas islands like?
Well, of course it’s amazing! Expect a place that comes pretty close to everyone’s Robinson Crusoe picture-perfect paradisic island escape. Just like that. No luxuries. No resorts. This saying, please be aware that tourism in San Blas is quiet new, rustic and only a very basic standard is offered. For most people, this is exactly what they are looking for. But don’t worry, if you are not sure if this is right for you, why not visiting us for one night only or a day trip?
Who are your typical clients?
Given the nature of the San Blas islands, most are backpackers with a genuine interest in culture and nature. However, we do not target any specific age group or kind of traveler as we want to share our home with all curious and conscious travelers.We host families, people traveling in small groups or alone, travelling for only a few days or a year, from fresh out of school to their best years. The only restriction is that we specifically do not promote any party cruise packages.
Are the San Blas islands suitable for children?
Yes, you can definitely come to San Blas with children. Children usually love the beaches and being on our island – they enjoy it most, however, when they are at least old enough to already walk. Please also consider our special discounts for children.
Can I bring my dog along?
Sorry, your dog has to stay at home. Please understand that you cannot bring along any pets as this is not allowed in San Blas.

MY VISIT TO THE SAN BLAS ISLANDS

PACKAGES, BOOKING & PAYMENT

What is included in the package?
Daytrip/overnight stays: Our island packages include the boat ride from the port of Carti (San Blas) to the islands and back and meals on the islands for the duration of your stay on the island (day trip: lunch; overnight stays starting with lunch on first day, ending with lunch on last day). Accommodation is included in all overnight stay packages. Tours to visit other islands are included in the day trip and some overnight packages (if booked additionally).

For more information, please visit our detailed pages on overnight stays and day trips to the San Blas islands.

Our packages do not include the car ride from Panama City and back but we are happy to arrange this for you. Additionally, you will have to pay entrance fees to the Comarca Kuna Yala (SanBlas) –  (5 USD for Panamanians and permanent residents, 20 USD for foreigners; collected by the Congreso of the Comarca) as well as the port fee (2 USD per person). 

What is not included in the packages?
Our packages do not include water, soft drinks or alcoholic drinks, and snacks. The entrance fee to the Comarca Kuna Yala (San Blas) and the port usage fee is also not included – it will have to be paid upon entering the Comarca.
Please also check with the above question and the detailed tour page on what is included.
How can I book my stay with San Blas Frontera?
Please use our booking form for booking your trip with us. You can book for single people or for whole groups. In case you have special requests, please contact us using our contact form or call/WhatsApp us.
What payment options do you offer?
We currently only accept cash (USD) but are working to integrate other forms of payment such as secure online payment per credit card to our homepage. For the meanwhile, please pay the full amount in cash to our driver.
Do you offer discounts for children?
Yes, children under 5 years old do not have to pay anything for our tours. From 5-11 years, children pay 50% of the adult price. Children 12 years or older pay the full price.

Discounts are not applicable for car rides.

Can I decide to stay longer once I am on the island?
For sure! If we are not booked out you can definitely decide to stay for as long as you want once you are on the island and fall in love with our laid-back lifestyle.
Can I add tours to visit other islands once I am on the island?
Sure, you can always add (more) tours to visit other islands once you are on our island. Payments have to be made on the island though and in cash (USD).
Can I make commitments right after the planned end of the tour, such as a flight?
As we are operating in an area with only very limited accessibility we recommend not having a flight or any other commitment scheduled right after the planned end of the tour but instead plan for some buffer time. Events such as an accident or a mudslide on the only road connecting Panama City and the San Blas islands holding up the passage (even though rather rare) or a traffic jam in Panama City can significantly delay your return to Panama City. We do not take responsibility for missed flights or commitments in such cases.

PREPARATION

What should I pack to visit the San Blas islands?
Please make sure you pack the following items: passport, cash, sun protection, towels, swimming gear, snorkeling equipment (we also provide snorkeling equipment free of charge), plenty of water, water-proof bags for important items and for overnight stays additionally flash light and a lock to store personal belongings
Why do I need a passport when visiting San Blas?
Upon entering and leaving the Comarca of San Blas (Kuna Yala), you have to present your passport to Kuna and Panamanian border authorities. The Comarca of San Blas is an autonomous region; you are entering another country so-to-say.
How much cash should I bring to the San Blas islands?
There is no ATM in San Blas, therefore please bring along sufficient cash. You will need to make your payment for the whole package to us in cash. Upon entering San Blas, you will have to pay the entrance fee of 20 USD per person (for foreigners; Panamanians and residents pay 5 USD) and 2 USD for using the port. Beyond that, you might want to bring cash for water, snacks, drinks or souvenirs (e.g. mola). Please remember that our packages do not include water and drinks and you will have to buy it on the island if you don’t bring some along. Costs for snacks and drinks are slightly higher than in Panama City. Prices for molas range roughly between 15 USD and 50 USD, for beaded bracelets starting at 5 USD.
How much luggage can I bring?
We advise to bring only as little luggage as necessary because space in the cars and the boat is rare. Often you can arrange with your hotel/hostel to leave your luggage there.
How should I pack for San Blas?
Please wrap sensitive items and put them in a waterproof bag as the boat ride to and between islands might get bumpy and wet at times. Have your passport with you and ready to present it when entering the Comarca of San Blas.
Should I bring food?
We prepare fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner for our clients. If you have any allergies, please contact us in advance so we can arrange. You can purchase snacks on the island or bring some along. Just make sure to store only tightly sealed food in your room as otherwise it will attract insects.
Can you cater to allergies or special diets?
Please let us know your allergies or any special diets a few days in advance so we can accommodate your needs.
What should I wear when visiting San Blas?
For the boat ride to the island, we recommend wearing clothes that are not sensitive to sea water. At times, the boat ride can get wet when spray is entering the boat. On the islands, casual beach wear is recommended (don’t forget sun protection!). During rainy season, it can sometimes get a bit chilly at night, bring a light sweater or long pants.
Can we drive in our own car to the San Blas islands?
Yes, you can arrive in your own car to the port of Carti (San Blas) where we will then pick you up in our boat and drive to the island. However, only 4×4 cars are allowed to enter the Comarca. Please contact us for further details.

 MY STAY

Which islands can we visit?
As a tour provider, we work with different islands in the area of Carti that all have to comply with our high standards regarding accommodation, meals, hygiene and taking care of you, our clients. And of course, all our islands for accomodation are coconut-covered small islands with beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters and surrounded by coral reefs for snorkeling. Please contact us directly in case you wish to stay on a certain island.
What can we do on the islands?
The islands offer plenty of things to do: you can swim in the crystal-clear waters, go snorkeling in the coral reefs surrounding the island, relax at the beach, have a walk around the island, laze in a hammock and read a book, enjoy a cool soda, talk to the locals, play volleyball on the beach, gaze at the stars at night etc. You will see, time passes and you won’t be bored.

If you booked a tour, you will be gone visiting other islands or a Kuna village for a few hours a day, nevertheless leaving you sufficient time to also enjoy the island you are staying on.

What is the accommodation like?
All cabanas are traditional Kuna-style bamboo huts right on the beach with thatched roofs that give you an authentic feel for island live, including a fresh breeze and the sound of the ocean nearby.

The cabanas are furnished with beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets as well as basic furniture for your personal belongings. Light is only provided for certain hours in the evening. There is no air-condition or fridge/freezer available.

Are there sanitary facilities on the islands?
There are shared toilets and bathrooms on the island with your accommodation available. Showers usually contain fresh water from underground tanks, however during the hot and dry summer months the tanks might have to be filled up with salt water. On some of the islands we visit during the afternoon tours, there might be no toilets as these are uninhabited islands – but we will stay there for a short time only.
What is the food like?
We provide three meals daily: breakfast, lunch and dinner, based on local cuisine and prepared by our experienced Kuna chef. Lunch and dinner usually consist of a source of protein (fresh fish, mariscos, langosta, crab or chicken) and carbs (rice, fried platanos, cooked/mashed/fried/… potatoes or yucca), accompanied by salad or vegetables and fruit. We try our best to provide you with a high variety and, if wanted, with seafood. However, please keep in mind that most food apart from fish, rice and plantains has to be purchased and transported from Panama City or Colon. Further, we strictly comply with local law that regulates fishing times for some species and langosta. Thanks for your understanding.
Do you provide snorkeling equipment?
Yes, we have snorkeling equipment which you can use free of charge to snorkel the reefs around the island or during our visits to other islands.
When do we return to Panama City?
We leave the islands in the afternoon. At the port of Carti, our driver will bring you back to Panama City and drop you off at your hotel or hostel. You can expect to arrive there at around 7 pm, depending on traffic. If you wish, you can also leave the islands in the morning (at around 7.30 am/ 8.00 am), returning to Panama City at around 11-12am.
Is there internet?
There is no WiFi and mobile connection is not very reliable, especially during bad weather.

MY BOAT ACROSS THE PANAMA-COLOMBIA BORDER

PACKAGES, BOOKING & PAYMENT

IMPORTANT - please read
Please be aware that the boat ride is highly dependent on weather conditions. The waters around the border between Panama and Colombia can at times, especially during summer time from December to March, contain such high waves, that a crossing would not be safe. Our experienced captains will decide if the boat tour has to be delayed by one or more days.

In such cases, we will not be responsible for additional costs until the departure or if you decide on alternative transportation.

On which days do the boats leave?
Our trips from Panama to Colombia currently starts every Monday morning, arriving in Sapzurro on Wednesday afternoon/evening.
Our trips from Colombia to Panama currently starts every Friday morning, arriving in Panama City on Sunday evening.
What is included in the package?
Our packages include transportation by boat between Sapzurro in Colombia and Carti in San Blas, meals on the islands for the duration of your time with us and accommodation.

We can arrange the car ride between Panama City and San Blas for you. Please note that you will have to pay entrance fees to the Comarca of San Blas (5 USD for Panamanians and permanent residents, 20 USD for foreigners; collected by the Congreso of the Comarca) as well as a port fee in Carti (2 USD per person). These payments are mandatory.

What is not included in the package?

Our packages do not include the car ride between Panama City and Carti (we can arrange this for you) as well as the entrance fees to the Comarca Kuna Yala and the port usage fee. Additionally, not included are water, soft drinks or alcoholic drinks, and snacks.

Please also check with the above question and the detailed tour page on what is included.

How can I book the boat ride with San Blas Frontera?

Please make your booking request via the booking formular.

What payment options do you offer?
We currently only accept cash (USD) but are working to integrate other forms of payment such as secure online payment per credit card to our homepage. For the meanwhile, please pay the full amount in cash to us at the start of the trip.
Can I make commitments right after the planned end of the tour, such as a flight?
As we are highly dependent on weather conditions and operating in an area with only very limited accessibility we recommend not having a flight or any other commitment scheduled right after the planned end of the tour but instead plan for some buffer time. In case of unfavorable weather conditions we might have to postpone the boat ride by a few days. Additionally, events such as an accident or a mudslide on the only road connecting Panama City and the San Blas islands holding up the passage (even though rather rare) or a traffic jam in Panama City can significantly delay your trip. We do not take responsibility for missed flights or commitments in such cases.

 PREPARATION

What do I need to pack?

Make sure to pack the following items: passport, cash, sun protection, rain/water protection for you and your personal items (passport, camera, …),  snacks, plenty of water and, if for your stay on the island towels, swimming gear, snorkeling equipment, flash light, water

What should I wear during the boat ride?
Our boat is equipped with a roof but nevertheless we highly advise you to dress appropriately to the weather. Have sun protection ready (sun screen, shades, hat, something to cover shoulders) and be also prepared to get wet on the boat ride  – Depending on the weather and your seat in the boat, spray from the waves might enter the boat. We recommend wearing clothes that can get wet including a raincoat in case of high waves or rain.
What about cash?

Please make sure to bring sufficient cash (USD) with you as in San Blas payments are only accepted in cash (no credit cards) and there are no ATMs. Additionally, you have to pay us in cash (USD only) at the beginning of our trip. 

BOAT RIDE

Where does the boat from Panama to Colombia start and end?

For the boat going from Panama to Colombia, we will meet at the port of Carti in San Blas. If you arrange a driver with us, you will be picked up at your hotel or hostel in Panama City. From Carti you will switch into the boat and from there travel along the entire archipelago de San Blas until Sapzurro in Colombia with stays on different islands along the way. 

Where does the boat from Colombia to Panama start and end?

For the boat going from Colombia to Panama, the tour starts in Sapzurro at the port. From there, you will travel by boat into Panama along the entire archipelago de San Blas until the port of Carti in San Blas, Panama, with various stops on different islands along the way. Our tour ends here – the only way to get back to Panama City is by hiring a car. If you wish, we can arrange a driver for you who will drive you across the mountains to Panama City on the Pacific Coast and drop you off at your hotel or hostel.

What's the boat like?

We use the nowadays in San Blas typically used boats. These fiberglass boats with outboard motors are perfect for making the tour along the coast. They typically offer seating for approx. 10-20 persons, depending on their size, are equipped with a roof for protection from sun and rain and wooden benches.

Couldn’t find what you are looking for? Please contact us or call/WhatsApp us on +507 6807 2764

Still need help? Send us a note!
Contact us

(+507) 6151-7379
(+507) 6807-2764
info@sanblasfrontera.com

About Us

As a purely local and indigenous business, we offer authentic day trips and overnight stays in our traditional Kuna cabins on the San Blas islands in Panama and multiple-day boat trips across the Panamanian-Colombian border (boats from Panama to Colombia and boats from Colombia to Panama) as the better alternative to sailing the San Blas islands.

SAN BLAS FRONTERA - all rights reserved 2018