Send your booking request until 1pm the day before the tour – we confirm within several hours! No prepayment or deposit required during booking.
Do not hesitate to get in touch! We know the islands the best and we are happy to talk to you.
Our most popular boat tour is back! We are returning with our 3-day island-hopping tour in a speed boat from Panama to Colombia. Visit deserted beaches and islands where no other travelers ever go to, sleep in traditional cabins on tropical islands, and immerse yourself into a still intact indigenous culture on this once-in-a-lifetime trip all while crossing the Panama-Colombia border. We travel in speed boats along all 365 islands of the San Blas Islands to Colombia, facilitate the border crossing for you and make your island fantasies come alive! From Sapzurro, you can travel onwards to Cartagena or any other major city in Colombia.
Monday: 8:30am Cartí, San Blas (Pick-up at your hotel in Panama City available)
Wednesday: Arrival in Sapzurro, Colombia in the afternoon. Stay here or travel onwards to Cartagena or other cities in Colombia (see below for info)
Private bungalows (for 2 or 4-6 people) or mixed dormitories – both room types with western-style beds (mattresses, pillow, sheets). Shared bathrooms, equipped with western-style toilet and shower (no hot water).
One-way island-hopping trip from Panama to Colombia: We travel in speedboats from island to island and make various stops along the way on different islands and Kuna villages, you will sleep on the islands in traditional Kuna cabins right next to the Caribbean sea and enjoy delicious local, fresh meals. We do change our itinerary every once in a while (also depending on the weather and season) but we always make sure to show you a nice balance between deserted and inhabited islands, a lot of beach time, seeing star fish, eating fresh seafood (vegetarian options also available), visiting a Kuna village and experiencing our culture. Since we make so many stops, you will only travel short distances at a time – in total approx. 2-4 hours per day on the boat but with stops on the islands in between. The boats are equipped with safety vests for each passenger as well as safety gear and licensed captains. People rarely get sea sick because we travel close to the coast line where waves are a lot smaller and we also spend short times on the boat.
We meet in the morning at the dock in Cartí, San Blas to head out to the islands. If necessary, we can arrange transport in a shared 4×4 from Panama City to Cartí for you, incl. pickup at your hotel. From Cartí, we start our trip – passing the first Kuna villages and islands and after ca. 30mins arriving on the first island. Here, we set up base for the first day and night and start exploring some of the surrounding islands during the day.
As beautiful as the islands are during the day, as spectacular are sunsets and night skies in San Blas. Make sure to reserve some time and find a quiet spot to enjoy the magic of nature.
On Day 2, we head out in the early morning after breakfast with the boat to explore the islands around Nargána, Tupile and Ustupo. This area is so far off from the mainland road that tourists barely ever set foot here and the Kuna people here live their life in tune with nature that hasn’t changed much over the centuries. Throughout the day, we stop on some deserted islands for swimming and relaxing. For lunch, we stop in a Kuna village where a local family invites us to eat in their small restaurant and around night fall we arrive at our cabins, next to another Kuna village.
Today, it’s time to leave the islands behind and cross into Colombia. But before doing so, we make a final stop on one of the largest and most beautiful islands in San Blas. After extensive beach time and delicious local lunch, we head to Puerto Obaldia for the migration papers from Panama. Once done with the paper work and luggage check, we can enter the boat one last time for the ride across the Panama-Colombia border and arrive in the afternoon in Sapzurro, where our trip ends.
A trip to the San Blas Islands is most likely very different to your usual vacation. All operations in San Blas are by law 100% owned and operated by local Kuna people, foreign investments are banned and foreigners/Panamanians are not allowed to conduct any business in San Blas. Most of the cabins are run by large families and provide income for a very large number of people. Many of the operators or employees have lived their entire life in San Blas, some never left the Comarca and most have never traveled to another country or stayed in a hotel. Kuna people have for hundreds of years lived a very simple and basic life consisting mainly of fishing and hunting. Tourism is fairly new and only very few have had real experience in the hospitality sector.
At the same time, the islands are very remote and difficult to reach. Everything that the islands themselves cannot provide (building material, gasoline for the boats, food,…) needs to be sourced in Panama City and sent for a high surcharge in a 4WD/SUV to the dock of Carti. From here, it is then redistributed via boats and again for a fee to smaller sellers and cabins. The islands are not provided with any infrastructure (electricity or running water) and locals live a simple life in tune with nature.
As you can imagine, great effort is required to provide a basic service to tourists and the locals do it to the best of their knowledge. As such, we kindly ask you to leave your mainland expectations behind and be open and try not to compare the $-value of a night in San Blas with a night in other parts of Panama. The simplicity of the cabins reflect a mix of the basic traditional lifestyle and the expensive sourcing for material with external financing being not allowed. Similarly, meals reflect local food patterns (fish/sea food with rice) with limited access and the attempt to adapt to foreign tastes with a bit of sides and salads. Drinking water needs to be imported from the City and is a luxury to most locals. Providing electricity and fresh water requires great effort and usage times might be restricted. Bed linens are washed by hand in the river on the mainland or sent to Panama City. There is no communal trash collection or recycling system in place. Only few locals speak English and some don’t even speak Spanish.
Nevertheless, we work closely with cabin owners to ensure that you will receive a great service, experience clean and functioning facilities and that your stay will be a remarkable one!
With this in mind, be ready to jump into your island adventure! Once on the island, you’ll most likely find that in such a beautiful setting, most modern-day luxuries are not needed and that there is a point to the simple and relaxing life that the Kuna people live 😊
You’ll be spending the entire day out on the ocean and in the sun so we highly recommend dressing accordingly!
Please bring mandatory:
Additionally, we recommend:
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 and cash with you during the car ride and ready to present when entering the Comarca of San Blas (passport check + payment of the governmental entrance fee) and in Puerto Obaldia.
Before leaving Panama and entering Colombia, we make a stop in Puerto Obaldia, Panama to get the paperwork ready. This is the last Panamanian community before entering Colombia. We will take care of the paperwork and visit the different offices in Puerto Obaldia for you while you can have a drink or eat something at a local bakery. Usually this also involves luggage inspection by the local police before being allowed to return to the boat and enter Colombia. Our tour ends 15min later in Sapzurro, Colombia. You can stay in Sapzurro for a night or directly go to the next community, Capurgana, to get your entry stamp into Colombia (simple procedure). This has to be done within 24h after leaving Panama.
Exemplary planning from Panama City to Cartagena (4-days):
We recommend staying for several days in Sapzurro and Capurganá if time permits. Travelling from Capurganá to Cartagena is possible in 1 day. Passport needs to be stamped in Capurganá within 1 day of arriving in Colombia.
Our tour ends on Wednesday afternoon in Sapzurro, Colombia. You can stay here or directly go to Capurgana, where the Colombian immigration office is. We organize a boat that can bring you directly to Capurgana once we arrive in Sapzurro (ca. 15min). Once in Capurgana, please stamp your passport at the immigration office in Capurgana. From Capurgana, ferries leave every morning to Turbo and Necogli, from where you can catch a bus to Cartagena.
You can bring your luggage with you. If you have more than 1 largebackpack/suitcase and a smaller carry-on, please inform us ahead of time.
Please also inform us if you have any bulky luggage (surf board, bike). Extra charges might occur. During trade wind season (December to February), there can be heavy winds and high waves, so please consult with us before the trip and ensure to wrap your bulky luggage to prevent it from getting damaged. We are not responsible for any damages that might occur.
All visitors to the Comarca Kuna Yala, and thus to the San Blas islands, have to pay a fee upon entering. For this purpose, there are inspection points at all entrance points to Kuna Yala, such as along the only road, all ports and all airports. This fee is used to protect the rich biodiversity of the Kuna Yala rainforests.
It is $20 for foreigners and $5 for nationals and residents.
San Blas is cash-only, there are no ATMs or card payments in San Blas. Please bring sufficient cash (US Dollars), preferably in bills of $1 or $5 for paying for snacks, water, taxes etc. since locals rarely have sufficient change.
Yes, this trip is also suitable for children. Children usually love the beaches, the boat rides and being on an island. We recommend that children are at least old enough to walk when joining this trip. Keep in mind that most places do not have special baby equipment (baby beds, baby seats or special food/drinkable water) and that you will need to carry your infant on your lap during the boat ride.
Please also consider our special discounts for children.
3-days/2-nights San Blas Islands
Wooden Bungalows on the beach
Plenty of water activities
Managed by a professional, young Kuna family
2-days/1-night San Blas Islands
Wooden Bungalows on the beach
Plenty of water activities
Managed by a professional, young Kuna family