In my opinion, San Blas is nothing short of Paradise on Earth! I know that’s a pretty bold statement! But, hear me out or even better let the pictures below prove this claim! This post covers everything you need to know about taking a day trip to San Blas Islands from Panama City.
How to Get There
San Blas is so beautiful because it is so remote! The best way to visit San Blas is to join a tour. I booked the tour I have linked below and it was one of the BEST tours I have ever booked in all my travels. It was a small group and we were transported in a big SUV instead of one of those big buses.
Another reason to visit San Blas Islands with a tour is that there are a couple of check points where you need to show your passport in order to pass through. Our driver navigated through all that for us. Furthermore, the roads are really bad and full of potholes.
Click this link for the Day Trip to San Blas Islands Tour
How the Day Went
I got an email the day before asking me to be ready by 5 AM and promptly at 5 AM someone was there at my hotel to pick me up. He checked to make sure I had my passport with me before we took off.
After picking up 5 more passengers, we started our journey towards San Blas Islands. After about an hour of leaving Panama City, we had our first and only break at a gas station where we could use the restrooms and buy some snacks. Then we set off on this winding road, full of inclines and riddled with potholes for what seemed like forever! Although the road was bad, the views more than made up for it. We passed beautiful cloud forest, mountains, valleys and vegetation. We stopped at 2 check-points and were asked to present our passports at one of them. The driver did all of the talking and the stops were very quick.
After a couple of hours, we arrived by the water and to a dock. Here, we were asked what we wanted to have for lunch. The selection included fish, chicken, octopus and shrimp accompanied by either french fries or rice. We then got on to a small boat and headed towards our first island.
At the Islands
Overall, we visited 3 islands and a sand bar. Here’s what to expect at each.
Once we arrived at our first island, we were given a towel, snorkeling equipment and chairs under a shady tent, right by the water. We were also served fresh pineapple. This was probably the juiciest, sweetest pineapple I had ever had in my life (and I was born and raised on a tropical island so I have had my fair share of pineapple!). We spent about an hour at this island swimming, snorkeling and just taking a ton of pictures. The water was crystal clear for miles. The island itself was tiny. I could have walked from one end of the island to the other in under a minute. There were restroom facilities here and a few other tiny huts but that was it.
After visiting the first island we hopped back on the boat and headed to the second one. This was my favorite I think. It was also tiny but the water was even more clearer (if that was even possible!). This island is the kind of island where stock photos of “paradise” are taken at! There were hammocks out in the water and the reef stretched out for what seemed like miles. We were here for a little over an hour.
Sandbar (Island #3)
Next up, we got back on the boat and rode to a sandbar where we saw starfish. The water was so clear that you could have seen the starfish from even above the water. People jumped off the boat here (the water was shallow) to swim and snorkel and take a closer look at the starfish. It’s worth to note that starfish should ever be removed from the water.
The tour advertises four islands but this sandbar essentially counts as one of the four.
Our 4th and final island was perhaps the biggest (but still could have walked from one end to another in a couple of minutes). We had lunch as soon as we docked. The item we ordered earlier in the day was served to us inside a little hut along with a beverage of our choice. After lunch, we were free to enjoy the island. There was volleyball, kayaking, snorkeling and even a shipwreck pretty close to shore that people could swim up to. There were also shower facilities as well.
After maybe 1.5 hours, it was time to leave San Blas and head back to Panama City. After a short boat ride to the mainland, we got back into the SUV and took the long and bumpy road back to Panama City where we were dropped off at our hotels and stays.
What to Bring
- Cash ($25 USD) for the border crossing
- Beach and water related things
- Snacks for the road
- A change of clothes
Can You Stay in San Blas Islands for Longer than a Day Trip?
Yes! You definitely can. The best way to do this is to book a tour through a company that will organize all the accommodation and transport for you. The company I took the day trip to San Blas Islands has various overnight tours. Check them out HERE. Their contact details are below.
Call +507 6513-6989
As I said before, this day trip to San Blas Islands was one of the best tours I have ever taken. Not only was the place breathtakingly beautiful, the tour was very well organized. I never felt like we wasted our time which happens a lot with organized tours. The operator was punctual, communicative and made sure we had a good time. I can definitely recommend this tour. Furthermore, this day trip to San Blas islands from Panama city is my favorite part and the number 1 highlight of my trip to Panama!
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Love the Blog name and Pictures , good luck and keep posting 🙂 I’ll wait
Thank you very much!
Spectacular islands and waters. Those islands are so tiny and low that it seems they could be submerged by a big wave.
Yes! They were amazing! I was also shocked at how tiny and low the islands were. Thanks so much for checking out the post 🙂