Skip to Content

3 BEST Tours of the San Blas Islands

3 BEST Tours of the San Blas Islands

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

Are you the kind of traveler who loves to relax on holidays go off the grid? Then the San Blas Islands are perfect for you!

Not only are the San Blas Islands a real-life slice of paradise, but they also offer you the chance to completely remove yourself from civilization. We’re talking about no internet, cell service, or credit card payments – nothing. If you’re looking for a real chance to unplug then this group of tiny islands makes a perfect island-hopping adventure!

But unless you have your own boat, the only way to explore this remote area is by going on a tour. There are many different tour options out there, so to help you narrow down which tour is right for you, we’ve created this list of the 3 best San Blas tours!

Quick Pick: Our Favorite San Blas Islands Tour

If you don’t have time to read the full article, we’ve got you covered! This affordable 2-day, 1-night tour of the San Blas Islands brings you to all of the best highlights while being short enough to fit into most travel itineraries.

You will get to spend a full day lounging around on the white sand beaches and exploring the coral reefs of Isla Wailidup, before enjoying the night in your private overwater bungalow. And if you think it can’t get better than that, the next day is spent island-hopping around this gorgeous archipelago!

This tour makes things super convenient because you can choose to add on transfers from Panama City or Playa Bonita if you need to. It also includes all of your meals at the super affordable price tag of only $165 USD, which we think is an unbelievable deal for the once-in-a-lifetime experience that you get!

The Best Tours of the San Blas Islands

1. 3-Day/2 Night San Blas Islands Tour

A tiny island part of the San Blas Islands
It’s hard to believe places like this exist!

This awesome 3-day/2-night tour offers round-trip transport from Panama City and Playa Bonita and includes all meals, as well as tours of Cayos Limones (the Lemon Keys Islands) which are known for their excellent snorkeling, and Cayos Holandeses, one of the most remote areas of the entire archipelago!

You’ll stay in a basic cabin on Yansailadup, one of the archipelago’s most beautiful islands, located in the Lemon Keys area. This island is inhabited by the local indigenous Guna people, who will make your meals and take care of the island during your stay. They live a fundamental way of life and we had a great time immersing ourselves in their culture while on our trip to the San Blas Islands.

The basic accommodation option is a private room for 2 people, or you can upgrade to an overwater cabin for an extra cost (all rooms have a shared bathroom). The accommodation on the island is very basic, but as long as you aren’t expecting a luxury experience it does the job and is quite comfortable. The San Blas Islands are very remote and not well developed, so don’t expect your room to have air conditioning or even electrical outlets – but we think this is all part of the island experience, and what makes this untouched paradise so special!

Our days were spent lounging in hammocks, snorkeling around the islands, and heading out on boat tours to other remote islands. We appreciated the relaxing pace, which is much different than our usual travel style!

This highly rated island experience (check out the reviews here!) starts at $375 USD per person which includes everything except beverages, gratuities, and the $22 USD Guna entrance fee which you’ll have to pay in cash upon entry to the region. You’ll also have to pay extra if you want the shuttle from Panama City or Playa Bonita included.

2. 2 Day/1 Night San Blas Overwater Cabin  

A yacht sails past a small island in the San Blas Islands, Panama
This is paradise on Earth!

If you’re a bit pressed for time, this shorter 2 day/1 night San Blas Island tour is perfect for you!

Our first day was spent exploring Isla Wailidup, the island where we would be spending the night in an overwater cabin. We lounged on the white sand beaches, rented paddle boards, and snorkeled around the reef. The provided meals consisted of a lot of seafood (which was a bonus for us!) and were served at the overwater restaurant on the island.

The next day we went on a boat tour to many different islands around the San Blas before returning to the port. The highlights were a visit to Isla Perro, where you can snorkel around a sunken shipwreck just off the beach, and to the “natural pools”, where you can stand right in the middle of the ocean and look for sea life all around you.

We loved staying in the overwater cabin! Although it was basic with a shared bathroom, it was still such a unique experience. There were tons of brightly colored fish that we could see right outside our door. And let’s face it, there aren’t many places in the world where you can do this at such an affordable price!

Prices start at only $165 USD which includes all your meals, accommodation, and activities. You’ll still need to pay extra for transportation to/from Playa Bonita and Panama City if you need it, as well as the $22 USD cash entrance fee to the region when you arrive. You’ll also have to buy all of your beverages on the island, so bring extra cash for that, or just bring some drinks and snacks with you like we did!

3. San Blas Island Day Tour from Panama City

A lady relaxes on a beautiful beach in the San Blas Islands
If you need me, I’ll be here!

If you’re REALLY pressed for time, then you can even take this all-inclusive day tour of the San Blas Islands from Panama City.

You’ll get to snorkel, visit 3-4 of the prettiest islands, kayak or paddle board, and enjoy a traditional lunch. One of the islands you’ll visit is Isla Perro, where you’ll get to participate in a game of volleyball with the locals and check out the shipwreck off the beach!

The drive from Panama to the San Blas Islands port takes around 3 hours one way, so there is a lot of travel time and the entire tour lasts around 14 hours making for a long day. With that being said, we think it’s definitely worth it if you only have one free day on your itinerary – if you don’t believe us, just check out the hundreds of 5-star reviews here!

Everything is taken care of for you, so this is a super convenient way to visit the San Blas Islands if you don’t have a lot of time to spare. At $160 USD, it includes all breakfast, lunch, snacks, and round-trip transportation from Panama City. Just make sure to bring extra cash with you for the $25 USD port fee!

Related read: Another amazing experience we loved was scuba diving in Bocas del Toro, Panama!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

About the San Blas Islands 

A small wooden fishing boat on a beach in the San Blas Islands, Panama
Palm tree and small hut on the San Blas Islands, Panama
Simplicity is what makes the islands so magical!

The San Blas Islands in Panama are part of the Guna Yala Indigenous territory, so technically, they’re kind of a country within a country. The archipelago consists of 365 islands and cays (one for every day of the year!) and of those, 49 are inhabited.  

The archipelago is off the Caribbean coast of Panama roughly 145 kilometers (90 miles) away from Panama City, which is where most people travel from.  

The Guna (AKA Kuna) people are famous for crafting molas, which are bright, patterned, hand-made textiles. On your visit to the San Blas Islands, you’ll see Guna people going about their daily lives and you’ll get to experience some of the amazing local culture here.

The islands are known for their delicious seafood, diverse marine life (especially starfish), jungles, and of course, gorgeous beaches.  The San Blas Gulf is home to the third-largest coral reef in the world. It’s also one of the most untouched reefs in the world, which is really amazing to see.  

Related read: When making your travel itinerary, consider adding a couple of the top cities in Latin America to the list!

What should you pack on a San Blas Islands trip? 

A hotel on an island in the San Blas Islands
You don’t need much, just the essentials!

When you’re visiting the San Blas Islands, your philosophy should be: if you want it, you bring it.  

First things first, you’ll need to bring your passport, because you’ll need to present this as you enter the Guna Yala territory. No passport, no entry. You’ll also need to bring US dollars because there are no credit cards or ATMs on the San Blas Islands. Bring plenty of small denominations – you really can’t ask for change from a $100 bill out here.  

Most tours include your food, but you’ll usually still need the $22 USD entry fee to the Guna Yala territory, as well as cash to buy coconuts from the locals, beautiful handmade molas, and drinks. If you want to take photos with the Guna people, they’ll usually charge a dollar per picture, too. 

You’ll spend a lot of your time in the water on the San Blas Islands, so make sure to bring swimwear,a towel, a hat, and biodegradable sunscreen. Also bring along mosquito repellent, any medication you may need (including seasickness meds), as well as all of your necessary toiletries with you because getting hold of them once you’re there is going to be pretty darn difficult. You don’t want to get to San Blas and realize you forgot your toothbrush!  

Bring light clothing, such as shorts and cotton t-shirts. You should also pack a light rain jacket in case of a downpour and for wearing on boat trips as you may get splashed. An extra battery pack is also a good idea if you have one!

Usually, group meals are served at a set time, so you might want to bring a few snacks with you to tide you over in between, like cereal bars, chips, or cookies. Our driver on our tour actually made a stop at the store on the way to the port so we could all stock up on snacks and beer!

Are the San Blas Islands worth visiting?  

White sand beach, San Blas Islands, Panama
Come stay on an island, trust me, it’s the way to go! I mean, look at this place!?

Yes! 

The San Blas Islands are absolutely gorgeous – we’re talking, beach screensaver-worthy scenery. We’d go as far as to say that they’re among the most beautiful islands in the world.

Not only this, but they’re culturally rich and allow you to totally disconnect from the modern world. A trip to the San Blas Islands is an amazing adventure and a total must when visiting Panama. You won’t regret it!  

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey in San Blas Islands
Thanks for reading!

The San Blas Islands are one of those unforgettable destinations! I mean the natural beauty of the area is stunning and it’s so good to really unplug for a while on your vacation. I highly recommend visiting this little piece of paradise for a few days!

If you’re planning a trip soon, check out our travel advice blogs or look through our blogs on Central America. We have lots of tips to share so you can have an amazing vacation. If you have any questions about San Blas, leave us a comment below!

The Hard Truth About Travel Blogging

10-Day Guatemala Itinerary – The BEST Places and Things to do

17 BEST Places to Visit in Costa Rica