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How Much Does it Cost to Visit San Blas?

San Blas is seen as the mecca for travel buffs and beach enthusiasts traveling to Central America. Where else can you immerse in an untouched indigenous culture while visiting the postal perfect islands with crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling and enjoy the freshest lobster for dinner?

Catamaran cruise in the San Blas islands
Anchorage in San Blas

If you are looking for a simple day visit to the San Blas islands, expect the total costs estimated for a family of 4 (2 adults and 2 kids) to be around $350 - $500, the higher figure includes some souvenirs in the form of traditional molas or handcrafts to take back home. The price mentioned includes the necessary shared road transfer and, water taxi from Panama City to the island your tour operator in San Blas has assigned you and a basic lunch. Price also includes transfers back the same day.


For those groups or families up for a longer trip to the San Blas involving some sort of accommodation such as a hut or a catamaran/sailboat, costs can vary depending on many factors, here is our in depth insight to help you estimate your budget.


Fixed Costs

Transfers:

This is part of the experience and you can’t evade this matter. Walking over to San Blas or taking a cab from Panama City and much less thinking the San Blas islands are an easy reach from Panama City are false assumptions. It just doesn't work this way. The region of San Blas can only be reached by (choose one):

  • Your own car (must be 4x4 to legally enter the region) if you are somewhat of an adventurer and don’t mind some traffic down in Panama City and a mountain road. Transfer costs here will be your 4x4 rental if you do not have one, which in Panama will be around $100/day and $5/day for leaving your car at the port in San Blas. Also count on the car rental costs for the duration of your stay in San Blas

  • Transfer Service: Road + water taxi: Pick up from your hotel in Panama is at 5.15 AM, on the way back from your trip after a night stay in San Blas. Expect to be back in Panama City before 12 midday.

    • Private road shuttles carrying up to 5 ppl cost $250/way and on top of that there is the water taxi which costs $30/person/way

    • Shared road shuttle cost $75/person way and that also includes the water taxi to the island or boat/catamaran in question.

  • Private plane transfers: If you want to skip the +4 hours of road and water taxi, selecting a private plane for your trip to the San Blas islands is the way to go. Private planes carrying up to 3 ppl cost $700/way and planes carrying 5 ppl cost $900/way. Best is to check our flight info here.

Flight taking off from San Blas

Lodging Costs (skip this part if you are only staying in San Blas for the day ): depending on wether you choose to stay on an island or on a sailboat, there can be significant differences not only in costs but also in the experience.


  • Island Lodge: a single bungalow cost around $250/day. There are some island lodging facilities that are ok and some that aren’t. Please do your research and get informed before booking your land based accommodation in San Blas. Do not expect having A/C or anything fancy and try to bring a mosquito net to hang from the ceiling at night.

  • Sailboat or catamaran: although scarce, there are some boat owners that offer shared trips to the San Blas Islands and will take your shared charter. We do not offer such services since the San Blas islands bring in many types of travelers and mixing them has proven to be a difficult task and not so rewarding experience for our guests. Private sailboat charters range from $800/day for the simplest boat carrying 4 guest to $2000/day for a luxury vessel carrying up to 8. Private catamarans in San Blas are priced at $900/day for the smallest and $3500/day for our most luxurious catamarans with air conditioning and filled with water toys. Check out this post to find out if you should rent a monohull or a catamaran in San Blas.


Variable costs

This is a big issue in San Blas since all except food has to be brought from Panama City and the "final" price might not be so much final as it appears.


  • Food and drinks: when staying at an island and land bases accommodation, verify if food is included or not. Count on $60/person/day to add to the budget if food is not included. If you are staying on a catamaran or sailboat, food and all provisioning is included and there is no need to spend any more funds on food.

Food in San Blas
Lunch onboard a catamaran in San Blas
  • Water toys: Once on the island in question, if that is what you chose as accommodation, you will find out you are nothing without at least some snorkeling gear and a kayak. Price to rent this is around $50/day. If you stay on a catamaran in San Blas, all water toys are included, also some fancy ones like water scooters and our new transparent kayak that our Salina 48 "Mambo Diablo" carries.

Kayaks and watertoys in San Blas
Transparent kayak in San Blas
  • Local handcrafts, molas, are a must and not only you will love them but will also contribute to the local economy. Basic molas can vary from a $20 to a $100 depending on the quality of the work.


Visiting the San Blas islands is a memorable experience that will live in your memory for years to come but like with other travel destinations in the world, planning is crucial. The good thing is that this destination can be visited and enjoyed by many types of travelers and you can’t really miss.


What type of traveler are you?






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