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First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Metro Manila...
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First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Instead of using the services of a tour company, which would cost about 165 USD , we decided just to drive ourselves to San Blas. We left about 630 in the morning and traveled all the way through the Corregidor Sur. For first time drivers, the landmark to look for is the big sign that says, Altos de Llano and immediately after that , there is a left turn going to Kuna Yala . Up to this point, travel time is about 1 hour. Once you make that turn, just follow the road until you reach the end which is the Port Carti Tupile. But be careful, the road is a roller coaster ride with tight turns and some patches of dirt . It would be better to have a 4x4 because of the steep climbs. At about 30 minutes of driving, there is a checkpoint and you have to show your passports or residency cards. You also have to pay 5 USD per person (for residents) and another 5 USD for the car once you reach the port,which is after another 30 minutes you have to go to the blue building and pay another 2 USD per person plus 3 USD for parking. After this , you can meet the boatman of your choice. it is better to pre arrange with a boatman the day before so he will be waiting for you in the port. Otherwise, you can try your luck with those offering services in the port. In any case , cost for the boat is about 30-35 USD per person. Travel to the islands will take about 30 minutes.once you have arrived at an island , the locals will charge you another 2 USD per person , for using their facilities. Be sure to bring your small bills for all of these expenses. The locals will also offer you food like lobster 15 USD for half, or fish 20 USD. I would suggest that you just bring your own food but if you want to help out a bit, better if you order something fom them. There are toilet and shower facilities in some of the bigger island . By the way, the boatman can wait for you so be sure that you do not pay right away on arrival but once you get back to the port. Hope this is helpful to the first time travellers.

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1. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

how long was the drive down Corredor Sur?

Metro Manila...
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2. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Hi,

From Punta Pacifica thru Corregidor Sur , it was 1 hour to the turn off point. Then another hour up the mountain to the port. Then 40 minutes boat ride. Going back to Panama is about 30 minutes longer due to traffic. Just to mention also that I encountered 3 police check points on the way back so get you license ready.

Ireland
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3. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Wow thanks for posting this! This is exactly what I'm hoping to do when we vacation to Panama this winter. My son and I get car sick pretty easily so I think driving ourselves would be best. Who did you arrange your tour with or how did you arrange your boatman? It will be myself, my husband and our 12 yr old son. We want to go snorkeling for sure. I like the idea of an arranged tour guide for the day. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks!

Metro Manila...
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4. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Hi Kristin,

Thanks for reading the post. We considered using the service of a tour company called Viajes Jazmine (269-6160) . We used their services for our trip to Miami. But we thought that their quote for San Blas at 165 usd per person was a little bit high so we decided just to drive ourselves. But if you do not want to have the hassle of arranging everything yourself, I guess it will be worth it. The boatman was referred by a colleague but like I mentioned in my post, we had a bad experience with him that is why I do not want to give you the number. He was not there to pick us up on the way back. lesson learned : do not pay the boatman up front but settle when you are back in the port. Also, I did not see any snorkeling gear for rent so you may want to plan bringing your own gear. Have fun in Panama. Let me know if you have other questions.

Argentina
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5. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Hi Kristin, its better to drive ( More cheaper also if you are going to visit the kuna yala área in family or a group), you can arrange directly with the kunas with Joel, I have been there with www.gunayalaexplorer.com

They send me a quotation from the Carti Pier, Visit the Kuna Community, Kuna English Speaker, Dog Island $ a natural pool, also the Lunch is included for $65.00 per person.

I Highly recommended!

Remember that the Kuna Región has a lot of taxes.

If you are comming by yourself in your car

They are going to charge you.

The car $5.00

Parking $3.00

Each Person has to pay $10.00 ( Kuna entrance Fee)

and the Pier $2.00

The road is a roller coaster, you can rent a 4x4 or 4x2. My recommendation for you if you are a good driver is a RAV4 4X4 or the Prado in Budget Rent a car.

The email of Joel is : info@gunayalaexplorer.com

Cheers!!!

Edited: 03 September 2014, 01:25
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6. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Hi, thank you very much for this posting. It's very helpful. I have a cuestion. The rates for the boatman are for the ride or per person. I'm trying to figure out whether I'll make more sense to hire a guide for $130 for three people who will take us from the port to as many islands as we wish all day including the island's fees. Or just to get there and get a boatman to a big island and then another one to another island and just like that all day on our own. If that is feasible and way cheaper, I might prefer that option. Thanks again!

Metro Manila...
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7. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Hi Vanessa

Thanks for reading the earlier post. The cost of the boat ride of 30-35 USD is per person and supposed to cover the full day , from and back to the port. You can tell the boatman where you want to go or which island to stop in. It would be difficult to get a different boatman from each island. Most of the boats in the islands are already hired and just waiting for their guests. In our case, when our boatman did not show up at the end of the day, we had to ask another family if we could join them on the way back and just paid extra to the boatman.Hope this helps.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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8. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

curious about the lobster. 15 dollars a half? what does that 20 dollars for fish mean. That seems insanely expensive.

Metro Manila...
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9. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Yes it was very expensive and not really that nice. I bought it just to help a little bit the people living in the island. More like a "donation". But they do not do pressure selling and it is totally cool just to bring your own food.

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10. Re: First time going to San Blas from Panama City

Thank you for the replay. It was very very helpful!