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Is there Malaria in the San Blas Islands?

With no reports of malaria cases known in our 20 nautical miles navigation area, the San Blas islands remain free of any malaria risk, and for the most part, totally free of any mosquito while on a sailing boat charter.

Malaria is mostly found in tropical countries and it is caused by the infection of female mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles carrying malaria and does not spread from person to person.

Malaria in San Blas?
Malaria mosquito

Panama main zones of malaria are located in the Darien border with Colombia which is 200 miles away from our navigation are. Other areas affected by malaria are the outskirts of urban areas in Panama.

If you travel to any area you must know that there are ways to become inmune to malaria. It can be done by taking any oral treatment such as Atovaquone/proguanil which is a good choice for last-minute travelers because it can be started one to two days before travel, as opposed to one to two weeks with some of the other drugs.

No antimalarial drug is 100% protective and if you visit a high risk area, it must be combined with the use of personal protective measures such as wearing long sleeve shirts, mosquito repellent, etc.

Boats in the San Blas are totally mosquito-free at anchorages, especially if the A/C is turned on at night, which is when they are more active, in the unlikely event that any mosquito manages to reach the catamaran.

Mosquito free anchorages in San Blas
Unswamped islands and distant from land anchorages in San Blas

As said, mosquito bites in general are uncommon while on a catamaran cruise in San Blas. Most of the mosquito inconveniences are caused either at the waiting locations such as the border checkpoint and port waiting areas at the ports and river mouths if you happen to use the road transfer or come with your own vehicle to the San Blas islands. When using a road instead of a flight transfer, consider wearing long sleeved shirts, pants and thick socks if you want to prevent sandfly and mosquito bites at the river mouths where you catch the water taxi to the catamaran. Check out our post on what to pack for San Blas for more info.

Ports in the San Blas islands
Port location in San Blas

Some unshaded areas or a few of the swamped islands in San Blas do have mosquitos or sandflies for that matter but these spots and islands are not included in our itineraries and therefore not visited unless specifically requested by our guests.

No reports of malaria in more than 12 years of offering sailing trips in San Blas. You may medicate yourself with any of the oral treatments described above. However, we simply do not recommend it not only because you will be sailing in a malaria free area but also because any mosquito bite while on your catamaran vacation is highly unlikely. Side effects of malaria tablets such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, and headache are also worth considering.


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