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“Amazing experience”
Review of San Blas Islands

San Blas Islands
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San Blas Day Tour from Panama City
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San Blas Guna Yala Tour from Panamá City
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San Blas and Guna Yala Shared Tour from Panama City
Ranked #15 of 361 things to do in Panama
Certificate of Excellence
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Reviewed 29 April 2014

We had a fantastic time with Roberto and Mira aboard Lady Jane during our sailing trip in San Blas Islands. They showed us the nicest corners of the archipelago and we enjoyed very much the sailing, snorkeling (so much to see, even rays!!), beach barbecue, Guna culture and the great food Roberto and Mira prepared for us. They were always very helpful and friendly hosts and we especially enjoyed a visit of Soledad Miria where due to Roberto´s knowledge of the Guna people we had the opportunity to see how they live without being too "touristy". Thank you so much for this wonderful experience of living on Lady Jane for 5 nights, our Carribean dream came true!!
We also booked through San Blas Sailing and found that it was well organized although there was a delay of one hour in the morning for the transfer from the hotel to Cartí. We had experienced drivers and there was no problem at all if you know that you have to cross a hilly area on small but paved roads to get to the Carribean Coast. We would have only wished a little more information on the boat jetty where to find the right transfer boat but could finally manage to find it ourselves.

1  Thank terraviva_travel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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243 - 247 of 842 reviews

Reviewed 26 April 2014

We are a couple looking for a boat to sail San Blas from 29th of April until 2nd of May 2014. Is there anybody else that would like to join us for a four-place sailing boat?

2  Thank IrmaTigers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2014

Visiting the Kuna Yala was an interesting experience. They are incredibly self-sustaining and their skills of survival are clear. While not the most welcoming (clearly tired of the tourism) they did help me hand-select my lobster dinner.

The islands are amazing, the beaches are perfectly clean and the water is amazing. Be prepared, however, for camping conditions in the hut. Not much to do on the islands, so one or two nights should suffice.

2  Thank Robert P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 April 2014

We chartered the catamaran Bip Bip through San Blas Sailing in April 2014.

It was a contrast between a truly memorable and incredible experience with some completely deficient transfer service.

The BAD Service

The bad service related to the cars and driver that San Blas Sailing used to drive us from Panama City to Carti and back. The driver was an unpleasant man with a foul, almost menacing attitude and absolutely no concept of service or courtesy let alone any interest in telling our bilingual family about his country or what we were seeing. We had paid $400 for the return trip for 2 adults and 2 children (with lots of extra luggage) for what was confirmed in an e-mail ahead of time to be a "Toyota Land Cruiser or similar". They drove us to Carti in a much smaller vehicle, a 10 or 15 year old Hyundai Tucson that was in bad shape. It was cramped and we were not allowed to use air conditioning for the last hour because the car didn't have enough power to make it up the hills, with the air conditioning on. This was not good, as it was hot and raining and the rain was spraying into the car through open windows. Even with that, the old Tucson could barely make it up the hills, usually slowing to about 5 mph (8 kph) (no exaggeration!) by the top. We do a lot of Latin American driving and know how bad cars can be, but this one was dramatically slow even by local standards.

While we were on the boat we asked via e-mail for a better car or a price reduction for the return trip, and they used a 10 year old Nissan with the same briskly and strictly enforced rule against air conditioning. Driving in an old slow Tucson itself is not a big problem, the problem is that when you are sold and pay for one thing (a Toyota Land Cruiser) they shouldn't use a cheaper lesser quality substitute, or if they have to use one for some unforeseen reason, they should decrease the price to reflect the difference in what was provided. San Blas Sailing wrote us that the Hyundai was an emergency replacement for a damaged Toyota Land Cruiser, but we did not qualify for a price reduction in essence because the Hyundai was comfortable for us and is similar to a Toyota Land Cruiser.

Creeping up hills at 5 mph in the rain with open windows and a menacing driver was not really that comfortable! Also the Hyundai was not at all similar to a Land Cruiser. For those not familiar with the quality of these two vehicles, Thrifty Rental Cars in Panama which carries both vehicles is a good reference. They rent 6 classes of SUV’s, and the Hyundai Tucson is the second lowest priced class of SUV and the Land Cruiser is the highest price one, and the base price per day is $45 for the Land Cruiser and $24 for the Tucson.

Beware of the old bait and switch tactic in dealing with San Blas Sailing, if they do it with cars I assume they could do it with anything!

The OUTSTANDING Sailing Experience

As negative as that was, the experience aboard Bip Bip was truly fantastic. Being on a boat is different than a hotel. You are in close quarters with strangers for a number of days. If the captain and mate aren't right it can be really bad. But Manu and Marie on the Bip Bip were incredible hosts. They were truly welcoming and were always looking to see that our every wish was met. They have the right personalities, Marie keeps a really clean boat, is a great cook and a charming hostess. Manu is a technically competent sailor who knows the San Blas waters well, so you feel safe. He does a great job of mechanical maintenance, which is not easy in the San Blas. He has a great sense of humor and he was really good with our kids, taking great delight on snorkeling adventures etc. With their warm and caring personalities Manu and Marie have also made great friends with the Guna Yala people, which means you get a much richer cultural experience when you are interacting with them. In summary they really went out of their way to make sure we had a fantastic trip and we did.

I would highly recommend Manu and Marie and the Bip Bip for a truly memorable time in the beautiful San Blas. I'd also stay away from San Blas Sailing, and instead I'd spend a little more time on the internet looking to arrange the boat trip and vehicle transfer directly.

2  Thank Stevo22_Traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 April 2014

Only two hours away from Panama City, these gorgeous islands are where time stands still. Just go, stay for two or three days, and feel what paradise is like.

Thank ConsVanNispen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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