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422

Private Day Tour San Blas Islands & Cayos Holandeses

(2 Reviews)
  • 1 Day
  • Private Tour
  • Start/End: P.C.
  • Daily

Your private day trip to the San Blas Islands & Cayos Holandeses

Escape the crowds of the ordinary San Blas day tours and embark on an extraordinary private San Blas day tour to the secluded Cayos Holandeses, popularly known as the most beautiful islands of the San Blas archipelago. 

Discover a tropical paradise at your own pace where turquoise waters, pristine white sandy beaches, and swaying palm trees create a picture-perfect setting for an unforgettable experience. Your adventure begins with a convenient pick-up from your hotel in Panama City. In Cartí, you’ll meet our knowledgeable guide and experienced speed boat crew, who will accompany you throughout the day as we explore various islands and natural pools, providing ample opportunities for snorkeling vibrant coral reefs.

Join us for a private day tour to the Cayos Holandeses, and discover the pristine beauty and captivating allure of San Blas, Panama.

Price (per person)

Minimum Group Size: 4 people (or: price for 4 people)

Option 1: Private Tour & Shared Transport
$190 USD pP
Option 2: Private Boat Tour & Private Transport
$225 USD pP
  • *Transport: Transfer from your hotel in Panama City to Cartí in San Blas (tour start), duration: ca. 2.5h. Option 1: Shared 4x4 SUV or pick-up with up to 6 guests of different tours. Option 2: private car for your group only. The transport is not conducted by our company directly, but by independent drivers licensed by the local government.

Price Includes

  • Transport from Panama City to San Blas & back incl. hotel pick-up/drop-off (Option 1: shared 4x4/SUV, Option 2: private 4x4/SUV)
  • Island visits (Cayos Holandeses) incl. island fees
  • Boat transport between islands (speed boat)
  • Lunch (vegetarian/vegan options available) & 1 beverage
  • Breath-taking nature & laid-back island life
  • Knowledgeable, local guide
  • Snorkel & mask

Price Excludes

  • Governmental entrance & port fee to Comarca Kuna Yala ($22 USD adults, $5 USD children 9 or younger)
  • Additional beverages, drinks, snacks
  • Towels and personal items
  • Langosta lunch (possible to pre-order for an additional charge, except for March-May)

Payment

Deposit: 25% of tour price via PayPal (refundable 100% if cancellation through customer up to 72h in advance, 100% refund if cancelled through us at any time)

Remainder: cash on day of the tour or PayPal

Itinerary

Please note that this private day tour can be customized according to your preferences and needs. Whether you want to spend more time snorkeling, exploring other nearby islands, or simply relaxing on the beach, we are dedicated to creating a personalized experience tailored to your desires.

Arriving to San Blas

Your private day tour begins with a convenient pick-up from your hotel in Panama City at ca. 5:30am. After ca. 2-3h we arrive in Cartí, San Blas, from where your island adventure starts. Meet your local guide who will accompany you throughout the day and let’s get started.

Exploring the beauty of Cayos Holandeses

San Blas Islands: The boat ride from Cartí to the Cayos Holandeses (ca. 1h, depending on weather) will take you through a series of idyllic islands, each offering a unique glimpse into the natural beauty of the region. With a bit of luck, we might see dolphins on the way. 

Arriving at the Cayos Holandeses, you’ll step foot onto secluded, pristine beaches that seem straight out of a postcard. Sink your toes into the soft sand, bask in the warm tropical sun, and take in the awe-inspiring panoramic views of the surrounding islands. You’ll have plenty of time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the tranquility of this hidden paradise.

Indulge in a delicious local lunch, prepared by a local restaurant on one of the islands, featuring fresh seafood and local delicacies (vegan/vegetarian option available). Savor the flavors of San Blas while you soak up the serenity of your surroundings.

Marvel at the vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life as you snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Swim alongside colorful fish, and perhaps even spot a friendly stingray gliding beneath you.

Throughout the day, feel free to ask your guide to share fascinating insights into the culture, history, and ecology of the San Blas region, as we are passionate about sharing our culture and ensuring your experience is both entertaining and informative.

Return to Panama City

As the day comes to a close, bid farewell to the Cayos Holandeses in the afternoon and embark on a leisurely boat ride back to Cartí, from where you’ll be transported back to your hotel, where you’ll arrive in the early evening (ca. 7pm), filled with unforgettable memories of your private day tour in San Blas!

Our new boat San Blas Frontera - perfect for our trips from Panama to Colombia or from Colombia to Panama and to access remote islands

Your private Boat

Local speed boat (lancha) with outboard motor for your group only, equipped with safety vests for all guests & crew. 

Wailidup Island in the San Blas Islands, Panama

Lunch

Freshly prepared local cuisine (seafood or chicken), vegetarian & vegan options available. Langosta on demand  (except: March-May)

FAQ

Which Islands will we visit?

We will head to the Cayos Holandeses, a collection of secluded islands that embody the epitome of tropical paradise, with pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze.

Among the islands we will visit on this private tour are Isla Morodup and a tiny sunk island with a natural pool. 

How do I book & pay for the trip?

You can book via the homepage (pick your desired date in the calendar and choose package option) or through email at reservaciones@sanblasfrontera.com.

Payment: for this tour, we ask for a prepayment of 25% of the tour price via PayPal. The remainder of the tour price can be paid via PayPal or in cash on the day of the tour. 

What should I pack?

For a full day out on the water and in the sun, please dress accordingly and bring the following:

Mandatory:

  • Passport: checked by police upon entering the Comarca of Kuna Yala (San Blas)
  • Sufficient cash: in US Dollars to pay for the trip (if payment in cash), to buy drinks, snacks, souvenirs on the island (small bills of 1 USD and 5 USD recommended) – no credit cards, no ATM in San Blas

Recommended:

  • Sun protection: for the island and the boat ride (sun blocker, hat, T-shirt with sleeves, towel)
  • Towels
  • Drinking water: please bring sufficient or purchase on the island
  • Snacks
  • Swimming gear
  • Sandals, flip flops
  • Wetbag or plastic bag for your valuables in case of a wet boat ride or rain
  • Snorkeling equipment (we have a few snorkels but we recommend bringing your own for full comfort)

Wrap sensitive items and put them in a waterproof bag during the boat ride. Keep your passport and cash with you during the car ride for the passport check and entrance fee payment.

Is this trip suitable for children?

Yes, this trip is absolutely suitable for children and they usually love it! The San Blas Islands are a great place for families to enjoy a fun and adventurous vacation together. Children can explore the beautiful beaches, go swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters, and learn about the unique Kuna culture. Kuna people are very welcoming and love to interact with children, making it a great cultural experience for kids.

It’s important to bring sunscreen, hats, and other protective gear to keep children safe from the sun and sufficient water to stay hydrated. We prioritize the safety and well-being of our young guests, and we want to ensure they have a memorable and enjoyable experience in a comfortable and protected environment.

Do you provide snorkel equipment?

Yes, we have snorkels and masks available for you to use, although we suggest that you bring your own to ensure a comfortable and safe snorkeling experience.

What about the weather?

The San Blas Islands experience a tropical climate with relatively consistent temperatures throughout the year and is worth a visit year-round! The weather is mainly influenced by the Caribbean Sea and the trade winds and can vary between sectors and islands. Generally speaking: 

  1. Dry Season (December to March/April): lower humidity, little rainfall, plenty of sunshine & clear blue skies, strong winds (trade winds). Temperatures: 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F). 
  2. Transition Season (May & June, November): transition from dry to rainy season. Slightly more unpredictable weather, mix of sunny days with occasional showers. Temperatures similar as in dry season. 
  3. Rainy Season (July to October): more frequent showers & thunderstorms, usually in short bursts followed by sunshine, little wind, temperatures 25°C to 31°C (77°F to 88°F). Off-season with less crowds. 

This trip operates throughout the year, and our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our guests. We closely monitor weather conditions and follow the guidance of the local maritime office to ensure the utmost safety during the tour. In the rare event of extreme weather conditions, it may be necessary to cancel or modify the itinerary but we will inform you in that case. 

If there are rains or storms, we are prepared to adapt our itinerary as needed. Our experienced team will assess the situation and make adjustments, such as changing the order of our planned activities or visiting islands in more protected areas (e.g. closer to the coastline). 

Please be assured that we are committed to providing the best possible experience while ensuring your safety. We will always strive to make informed decisions based on the prevailing weather conditions and expert advice. Rest assured that your well-being is our top priority, and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure a memorable and safe journey.

Read this before booking your trip

A visit to the San Blas Islands promises a unique experience unlike any other vacation you’ve taken. The local Kuna people own and operate all businesses in San Blas by law, foreign investments are prohibited and foreigners/Panamanias are not allowed to conduct any business or work in San Blas, so you’ll have a chance to engage with the community and support their economy. Most of the cabins are managed by large families, providing livelihoods for many locals who have lived on the islands for generations, with limited exposure to the hospitality industry.

However, reaching the islands is a challenging journey as they are situated far from the mainland, making it difficult to import essentials such as building materials, gasoline, and food. All supplies must be sourced in Panama City, transported via 4WD to Carti, and then redistributed to smaller sellers and cabins for an additional fee. The islands have no infrastructure, including electricity or running water, and locals live in harmony 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, and we ask that you leave behind any expectations that you may have from mainland life. The simplicity of the cabins reflects a blend of traditional lifestyles and expensive material sourcing as external funding is prohibited. Likewise, the meals served are mostly based on local food patterns such as fish or seafood with rice, with limited access and attempts to cater to foreign tastes with some sides and salads. Drinking water is a luxury, that needs to be imported from Panama City, and electricity and fresh water require great effort to provide, with usage times sometimes limited. Bed linens are either washed by hand in the river on the mainland or sent to Panama City. There is no communal trash collection or recycling system, and only a few locals speak English, with some not even speaking Spanish.

Nevertheless, we collaborate closely with cabin owners to ensure that your stay is remarkable, with clean and functioning facilities and outstanding service.

With this in mind, be ready to jump into your island adventure! Once you arrive on the island, you will most likely discover that modern-day luxuries are unnecessary in such a beautiful environment, and that the simple and relaxing lifestyle that the Kuna people live has its own charm. 😊

2 Reviews
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TravelinFamVA

Family Traveller

Spectacular/Unique Private Islands Tour: You will find many mixed reviews of this day trip from diff operators but we had an awesome time, taking a private tour from Panama City to the Guna Yala protected islands (of whch there are several). It took us a lot of back and forth in advance picking the right tour company but San Blas Frontera lived up to everything they detailed in our messages and our requests. The day starts early around 530am and ends with a return to the hotel around 7pm. There was definitely a lot of behind the scenes coordination that happens between the tour operator, 4×4 driver, Guna Yala tour guide and boat captain (so while you may feel in the dark – as long as you have arranged in advance , it was very smooth and organized contrary to many reviews – we were in our boat within 15 min of arrival). We chose to do a tour just for our family which permitted us to have our own 4×4 (which typically will fit only 5 adults comfortably plus the driver) and our own boat launch (which typically holds about 14). The 4×4 drive starts on paved roads leaving the city, with a stop at a convenience store and then the last 1.5 – 2 hours is through the rainforest (which as of end of March 2023 was being paved slowly). You arrive at the port and the launch is either there or arrives from an island. Yarmachi contacted us the night before, so that we could pick from a few options on which islands and activities to do (This is only possible on a private trip) and also determined by weather and winds. The boat ride can be a bit rough as well but our captain was very mindful to make it as smooth as possible. On the trip, we visited an island for some beach time, the sunken ship park, the natural pool and lunch on a “remote” island too. The pool was super wild but we didnt spot any starfish. We travel a lot and this was an out of this world experience with our 2 children (8 and 10) – they even prepared veg options for 2 of us. The island hopping lasts abt 5 to 6 hours and then you take the same 4×4 back to your hotel. I recommend bringing some cash for drinks, snacks and tips. You can also pack some snacks and towels for yourself to use on the islands. We also brought snorkeling gear for the ship.

April 8, 2023

Patrick

Couple Traveller

A perfect way to experience the beauty of Guna Yala
We booked a day trip to Guna Yala through San Blas Frontera and had a fantastic experience. Yarmachi was prompt and helpful on email in advance of the trip, and provided clear instructions for our preparation and pickup. We opted to pay extra for a private car, and our driver arrived at our hotel at exactly 5 am, as promised. We stopped at a grocery store along the way to grab breakfast and additional snacks for the excursion. Yes, the drive to the port is long and winding. But if you can take some motion sickness medicine and try to relax and enjoy, it is part of the adventure. We enjoyed the scenery and animals through the windows, and our guide Jorge provided interesting stories and information as we went.

You will get out of the experience what you put into it. If you are able to relax and embrace some of the unknown and unexpected that is inherent in the trek, and meaningfully engage with the experience, it is very powerful and you can learn a lot.

At the port, our driver introduced us to our guide for the day and told us to listen clearly to everything they said. It was a little busy with several boats loading and unloading, and we waited a few minutes until she pointed to us to get us into the boat. Then we took off for the islands and entered paradise.

It is hard to describe the beauty of these islands and the overall setting. It is simply magical. We arrived at Yani and were greeted warmly at the dining area. We were given clear instructions (in english and spanish) and were free to enjoy. Lunch was delicious and the water and sand were magnificent. Then we went to a natural pool to snorkel a bit, and on to Perro Chico.

It is important to remember that Guna Yala is a community, it is not a resort. You are not there to be treated like a VIP 5 star guest. You are there to experience another culture, to listen, to learn, and to be respectful. Do not expect that everyone will speak Spanish or English. A few basic words and phrases in Guna will go a long way.

(If you will be in Panama City before your trip, visit the Mueso de la Mola in Casco Viejo for an excellent introduction to the history, art, culture, and language of Guna Yala.)

I am very grateful to have had this experience, and next time will plan to stay for an overnight or two to have even more time in Guna Yala.

February 27, 2023