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How do I get to San Blas?

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

There are two ways to get to San Blas: By plane from Panama City or by a combination of four-wheel drive (4WD) and boat.

By Plane from Panama City:

A flight from Panama City’s Albrook Airport is the fastest and most convenient way to get to San Blas. It takes less than an hour compared to the four hours by road and boat. Additionally, you’ll enjoy spectacular aerial views of the hundreds of San Blas islands in the turquoise and azure seas of the Caribbean, as well as stunning vistas of the coastal rainforest before arriving at the San Blas airport of Corazon de Jesus.

If you’ve booked a sailboat or catamaran, your captain will be waiting for you at the airport.

If you are going to stay on an island, you’ll need to have arranged for a boat transfer.

Remember, there is an airport tax of US$12 per person.

The cost of a round-trip plane ticket is approximately $350 per person. The exact price will depend on the number of people booked on the flight. However, you may find special Internet offers from Fly San Blas such as one way tickets for only $99.

By land (4wd) and sea (kuna speedboat) Part 1: By 4WD

This option consists of two parts. The first part is done in a 4WD vehicle from Panama City to the port of Carti in San Blas. Note that if you choose to drive yourself, the local Kuna laws require four-wheel drive.

Prado shared transport in 4wd to San Blas
shared transport in 4wd to San Blas

Many guests choose to buy a transfer package to the San Blas islands.

The round-trip transfer between Panama City and San Blas costs US$50. The driver of a 4WD will pick you up at your hotel, airport or other pre-arranged address in the morning at about 5:00-5:30 a.m. For the next two and a half or three hours, you’ll be traveling along a curvy and often rough road, so make sure to pick up some remedies at any pharmacy if you are prone to motion-sickness. You’ll then be able to enjoy Panama’s beautiful rainforest and rural countryside along the way.

Map How do I get to San Blas by Car + Kuna Speedboat
How do I get to San Blas by Car + Kuna Speedboat

At the boundary between Panama and the Kuna Indigenous Community (Comarca Guna Yala), you’ll pay a tax of US$20 for tourists or US$5 for citizens/residents of Panama.

Oficial Kuna Yala Border
Kuna Yala Border

By approximately 8:30 a.m., you’ll arrive at one of two docks, the Port of Cari or Barsukun. Your driver will deliver you to the correct location where a motorboat will be waiting to take you to the boat or island that is hosting you. Note: if you are doing a self-drive, make sure you verify with your boat captain and tell the driver the name of the port where you will be met.

Part II: by a Kuna Motorboat

Upon arrival at the port of Carti in San Blas, an obligatory ‘boarding tax’ is paid by all travelers using the port. The Kuna personnel will tell you where to make this payment. Don’t worry if the port seems a bit disorganized - the Kuna actually have this managed very well.

Kuna Speedboat, Port of Carti, San Blas Islands
Port of Carti, Sam Blas Panama

It’s now time to get onto a motorboat that will take you to your corner of the San Blas paradise.

The trip will take between thirty minutes to an hour, depending on what island you’re visiting or where your boat is anchored.

Please note: Prepare your luggage and yourself to get wet if the sea is rough. Bring large plastic bags to cover your bags and knapsacks. You may want to wear a bathing suit.

You’ll be sharing the boat with other passengers, and may make a couple of stops along the way. The cost for the roundtrip is US$ 40 per person.

In no time at all, you’ll be stepping into the paradise of San Blas!

Sailboat anchored in the paradise island of San Blas
San Blas Islands

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