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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

San Blas, the Spanish name for Saint Blaise, can refer to:

Argentina Argentina:
  • San Blas, La Rioja
  • San Blas Department
Costa Rica Costa Rica:
  • San Blas, Costa Rica
Ecuador Ecuador
El Salvador El Salvador:
  • San Blas, El Salvador
Malta Malta:
Mexico Mexico:
Panama Panama:
  • Kuna Yala, an autonomous territory, formerly called San Blas
  • San Blas Islands, off the Caribbean coast
  • Gulf of San Blas, an inlet of the Caribbean Sea on the northern coast of Panama east of the Panama Canal
Peru Peru:
  • San Blas (Cuzco), a neighbourhood in the historic city centre of Cuzco
Spain Spain:
  • San Blas (Madrid), a district of Madrid
  • San Blas (Tenerife), a new urbanisation in the South of Tenerife
United States United States of America:
  • Cape San Blas, part of a peninsula in Gulf County, Florida extending westward from the mainland of Florida, separating St. Joseph Bay to the north from the Gulf Of Mexico to the south

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to San Blas Islands article)

From Wikitravel

North America : Central America : Panama : San Blas Islands

The San Blas Islands is a group of islands which are located just off the Caribbean coast of Panama. The indigenous Kuna Yala tribe have self governing authority over the islands and a part of the mainland.


The local people, the Kuna Yala, are a wonderful example of an how an indigenous people continue to flourish and practice their age old customs surrounded by the modern world. They are friendly and welcoming of tourists. Although the San Blas Islands is their ancestral home, you will also find them selling their wares in Panama City.

Electric power is limited, so it is not uncommon for the hotels and homes to operate generators for only a few hours per day. After dark, the moon and stars provide the only light.


Kuna remains the first language of the indigenous people of San Blas. However, this is becoming less prevalent with the younger generations, who are for the most part being schooled in Spanish in Panamanian-run public schools in the region. Tule, what the Kuna call themselves and their language, is a spoken language. It is written only phonetically; they do not have their own alphabet or written language. Spanish is widely spoken in Kuna Yala, with only older generation Kuna, and a lesser percentage of women speaking only the Kuna language.

Get in


By plane

There are currently daily flights from Panama City to El Porvenir via Air Panama. Air Panama also services Achutupu, Corazon de Jesus (Rio Diablo/Nargana), and Playon Chico. As of Sept. 2009, Aeroperlas provides service to Corazon de Jesus and Playon Chico. Currently both airlines fly from Panama City daily at approximately 6:30 AM.

By boat

There are cargo boats that leave to/from Carti Island and Porvenir Island (San Blas Island/Kuna Yala) to Puerto obaldia with the trip taking around 6 to 8 days. There are also sail boats to and form go Colombia/Cartagena. ask Mr. Eulogio Perez to Carti Islands / cellphone: (507) 65179850 /61134117

By land

The road in to San Blas Kuna Yala has been vastly improved, and is full of work crews improving it. A 4x4 is still needed as there remains one river crossing (Apr. 09) but a bridge is being built. The road is accessible all year round. Currently there are a number of Kuna run tour operators that will pick you up from your hotel or hostel in Panama City and drive you in to San Blas Islands.


The San Blas offers a large array of sights. Starting with the fascinating people, incredible seascapes, colorful reefs and islands, to the abundant sea life in its waters and wildlife on the mainland. There are continuous festivals and gatherings occurring at villages that visitors can witness to get a glimpse of the culture. Numerous Kuna villages offer visitors multiple opportunities for various glimpses at the daily lives of the Kuna.


If you snorkel, you will find a great variety of tropical fish in the shallow warm waters.

Many of the tiny islands with beautiful beaches have one member of the Kuna tribe on the island who collects $1 per person for use of the island for sunbathing or swimming. Be sure to bring small change with you.


The native people wear very colorful traditional clothing and make and sell beaded jewelry and molas, which are creatively stitched squares and articles of multilayered cloth that can be very elaborate and take weeks to make. They also incorporate the mola craft into clothing, shirts and other various articles which can be purchased.


The larger villages in San Blas have small restaurants with limited menus. Villages also have small grocery stores that sell basic food items and beverages. Ice is very hard to come by in San Blas.

Kuna hotels and lodges typically include meals as part of the stay. Meals usually include locally caught fish, crab and lobster. Available vegetables are typically the basics, tomatoes, carrots, yucca, onions and potatoes. Do not expect a wide variety of foods as the kuna diet is very basic and exposure to western-style foods is highly limited.


Some of the islands have one small bar that caters to the locals and tourists alike. Ice is in short supply. Drinks, including beer and sodas, can be purchased at small stores on some islands.

Water in most villiages is piped directly (unfiltered) from streams on the mainland, and is therefore unsafe as drinking water for tourists. As a non-native, beware of any locally-prepared beverages including: hot chocolate, chicha (fruit or vegitable-flavored drinks), chicha fuerte (alcoholic chicha), water, and ice. Follow sanitary practices with all eating utensils and plates/bowls, as they are likely washed using non-potable water.

Tourists are advised to bring their own drinking water and drinking recepticles.


There are small and very rustic hotels on some of the islands, and due to the lack of restaurants, they offer all-inclusive meal packages. Also most hotels will include day trips to some of the smaller islands, where they will leave you alone for several hours to Snorkel, sun bathe or swim. These Islands offer pristine white sand and crystal clear water. Most islands have coconut trees, that offer natural shade from the hot sun.

Be aware that all the accommodations are very basic, most not worthy of a one star rating. Many Hotels offer huts made of sticks as rooms - which is also what the locals live in. This means that noise travels easily so be courteous to your neighbors! It also means that the walls are a little see-through at night if the light are on inside. Most rooms do not have private bathrooms, so be prepared to share toilet and shower facilities with other people.

  • Carti Homestay Kuna Yala, Tel: (507) 67343454,, [1]. Offers rooms or hammocks as well as meals. Guests can be pick up in their hostels in Panama City if an address is provided.
  • Hospedaje corbisky, Tel:(507) 67085254, email, [2]. 5 minutes from porvenir airport and 25 minutes from panama city (Albrook) we offer 4 bedrooms every cabins. and all available to 12 persons 3 meals a day,Educational tours and nice beaches . The build constrution over the ocean ,good snorkeling and swimming .The Hospedaje is contact culture kuna with friedly staff also you can live in a milenarian and unique culture or simply rest in a inviting hammock and relax

Stay safe

The Kuna are usually timid, though friendly and welcoming of tourists. There is drug trafficking in this region, but it occurs without incident in almost all cases, using small fast boats that deliver drugs to the mainland from Colombia mainly late at night. There are almost NEVER any incidents involving these drug runners locally. There are rumors that they "camp out" on vacant islands. This is patently false. The drug runners are typically interested in getting in and out as quickly as possible to dodge surveillance.

The San Blas Islands is also a haven for cruising yachts and sportfishing boats. Most of these yachts keep to themselves and rarely venture onto the village islands. For the most part, the San Blas Archipielago is extremely safe and tourist-friendly.

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