Can I Drive Myself to the San Blas Islands?
Self driving and skipping an organized land transfer is possible. You will have to reach one of the ports and still take a water taxi of around 40 minutes to your chosen island or spot where your catamaran will be anchored and ready for your sailing charter..
There are several factors to consider in the logistics when deciding on the San blas islands as your next holiday destination. Where to depart from and how to get to the catamaran and the islands are one of the questions we get asked a lot.
For us, the answer is clear, you can do it the simple way by hiring a private plane to take you to the landing strip down at Corazon de Jesus (best part of the San Blas islands) where the catamaran will be anchored. Plane transfer time is 40 minutes and you will depart from Albrook local terminal located within Panama City, relatively close to any of the well known hotels and main attractions,
... or you can do it the "not so simple way" by using land transfers in two possible ways:
The "not so simple way" is to endure an around 4 hour transfer from Panama City to the catamaran by booking one of the land transfer companies available, preferably with LAM tours which is the most reliable company and the only one we endorse.
... and the other option is to self drive to the port of San Blas which will take you around 2 hours . If you are adventurous and do not mind the typical hassles and annoyances of traffic, lack of street signs and directions, then go right ahead but do this:
Only 4x4 wheel drive cars are allowed in
Full diesel tanks, there are no gas stations on the way
Do not say you are coming to a boat to the border officials or you will probably have to turn back
Prepare some $/day for your parking fees down at the port
You will still need a water taxi to take you to the catamaran. For that LAM tours works the best.
Water taxis depart to the islands at a certain time, so make sure you got the correct schedule
cost wise might not be so interesting since you will have an unused rented car at the port for as long as your sailing charter lasts. Make your numbers.
That being said, whatever type of transfer you choose is totally fine with us.