Most of the hotels are located near the entrance of the road in Carti where you can get by car.
These are really rustic hotels: sand floor, thatched beach huts, and shared bathrooms, but there some exceptions that we recommend in this article.
The most comfortable hotels are too far from Carti. Charter flights are needed to get to these places.
If you are traveling in budget, then the road is the cheapest option.
What to Bring to San Blas?
- Original passports
- Fees if you travel by car:
- Entry tax: $ 20 for foreigners and $ 10 for Panamanians or residents of Panama (per person).
- In case of traveling in your own car, there is a charge of $ 25 (for this vehicle).
- Pier Fee: $ 2 to $ 3 both foreigners and Panamanians (per person).
- Fees if you fly:
- Entrance Tax: $20 per person for all the airstrips, except Playon Chico Airstrip where it is $10 per person
- Cash: There are no ATMs at the Islands, make sure to bring enough cash for your expenses
- Insect repellent
- I recommend ice blocks rather than the ice bags because they last longer. You can buy ice blocks near Mercado del Marisco.
- You can also buy ice blocks in Sugdup Islands, that’s one of the 2 islands that form the village of Carti. $10 to $20 depending on the size of the block.
Arriving by Car to Carti, San Blas
Most of the people get to the west of San Blas by car, it is the cheapest option, but the heaviest way to get there.
The price of a seat in a shared car is between $25 and $35 per person and a private car for up to 6 people is about $150 to $200 each way.
It takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours to reach one of the 3 piers of Cartí (Tupile, Barsukun, and the old airport).
Day Trips to San Blas starts at $140 per person.
What you need to know if you travel to San Blas by Car?
- The road that crosses the central mountain range of Panama towards San Blas in the Caribbean is in extreme tough. Only 4 × 4 cars or high SUVs can travel to this area.
- The road is 100% paved, except for the areas near the piers where the cars are parked.
- Many travelers usually get dizzy during the ride in the mountain range.
- If you decide to travel in your own car, be sure to check the fluids and brakes.
- During the journey through the mountain range, there will be no telephone signal or Internet.
Driving directions to Carti, San Blas
- From Panama City, take the Corredor Sur towards the Tocumen airport, but instead of going to the airport, you should continue on the south corridor until the end.
- Followed by the end of Corredor Sur you will arrive at the following towns: La 24 de Diciembre (+20 minutes), Pacora (+30 minutes), and finally Chepo (+20 minutes).
- After the town of Chepo, you will find a gas station of the company A / B (continue straight ahead without detours).
- After 10 minutes of passing the A / B gas station, you will find on your left hand the entrance to the road that leads to San Blas, turn left. This road has no detours.
- One hour after entering the road you will find the first of 2 checkpoints where you must pay the entrance taxes and present your identification documents (Panamanian IDs and passports the foreigners).
- The Barzukun River pier is located just after the second checkpoint, turn to the right at the first exit (the entrance of the pier is not paved).
- The Tupile and the Old Airport piers located are at the end of the road without detours after having passed the second checkpoint, just on the coast.
Flying to the San Blas Islands
Commercial Flights to San Blas With Air Panama
The airline flies to Puerto Obaldia, near the border with Colombia. Besides Ibedi al Natural Lodge there is nothing elsewhere you can stay.
The airline also flies to Playon Chico Airstrip, near the famous Yandup Resort. These flights are limited to the high season of December – March.
No A/C available in Yandup or any other hotel in San Blas, but still Yandup is the most comfortable lodging at the San Blas Islands.
Charter flight to San Blas with Aero Albrook
We provide the largest variety of aircraft and destinations in San Blas.
*Share charter flights are available to Corazon de Jesus on Sundays and Wednesdays. Starting at $300 per person round trip.
Recommended Hotels and Rentals in San Blas
- Yandup Lodge: located in Playon Chico, is the most comfortable hotel in San Blas. You can only get here with charter flights. Full-board plan (3 meals) and 2 daily day trips.
- Prices per night: from $165 per person in double occupancy
- Kuanidup Lodge: Located in Los Grullos Cays, at just 25 minutes by boat from Cartí.
- Wailidup Lodge: Located in Chichime Cays, is the only hotel near the road (40 minutes by boat from Cartí) that has wooden cabins on the sea and with private bathrooms. The hotel offers full board plans (3 meals). Only 15 minutes by boat from Wailidup is El Porvenir airport.