top of page

What Marine Life Can I Expect to See in San Blas?

Discover Why San Blas is the Perfect Destination for Diverse Marine Life

San Blas Islands, nestled off Panama's Caribbean coast, offer a perfect blend of unspoiled natural beauty and rich marine biodiversity, making it an ideal destination for snorkeling enthusiasts while sailing the archipelago on a catamaran charter. The crystal-clear waters surrounding the islands host vibrant coral reefs teeming with colorful fish species, providing unparalleled snorkeling opportunities.

Turtle in San Blas
Turtle in San Blas
Aerial view of BBA islands in the Dutch cays, a perfect snorkeling spot to encounter marine life.
BBQ islands in the Dutch Cays, a perfect snorkeling spot in San Blas.

Renting a catamaran allows travelers to explore remote cays and hidden reefs inaccessible by land, ensuring a more intimate and pristine marine environment. With minimal human impact and strict conservation efforts by the indigenous Guna Yala community, San Blas preserves its marine ecosystems exceptionally well, enhancing the chances of encountering sea turtles, dolphins, and various marine invertebrates during snorkeling adventures. Whether seeking thrilling encounters with marine life or top snorkeling spots, San Blas promises an unforgettable underwater experience amidst stunning natural surroundings.

Snorkeling in San Blas while on a catamaran charter is an excellent option to explore its abundant marine life

Guna Yala Marine Reserve

As a marine reserve, San Blas benefits from strict conservation measures, with one of its main goals being to replenish fish populations that are of commercial interest. By "commercial interest," we mean ensuring that our catamaran charters have access to the freshest catch of the day. Lobster and crab are part of our meals since Guna fishermen regularly sell them to us.

The waters surrounding the islands are teeming with sea life. These marine habitats are crucial not only for their ecological significance but also for sustaining the livelihoods and cultural practices of the Guna community, who depend on fishing and eco-tourism for their economy.

The reserve also aims to safeguard marine biodiversity and protect critical habitats. Lastly, it plays a crucial role in promoting adaptation to climate change by safeguarding habitats and species that are responsible for capturing and storing carbon in the sea.

Spiny lobster in San Blas, one of the many species to be found in the archipelago with an abundant sea life to explore.
Spiny lobster in San Blas waters.

Marine Life in San Blas

The environment in the San Blas islands is completely pristine - you can't take a step without spotting a fish or some other form of life like the following:

Coral Reefs and Fish

Reefs support a myriad of marine life, from colorful fish to delicate invertebrates, contributing to the region's ecological richness and biodiversity. The coral reefs in San Blas feature various types of corals, including brain corals, staghorn corals, and elkhorn corals. These corals provide habitat, food, and protection for countless marine species, playing a crucial role in maintaining the health of the marine environment. Additionally, they act as natural barriers that protect coastlines from erosion and storm damage, highlighting their ecological and economic significance.

In the archipelago you will find a variety of fish species such as parrotfish, angelfish, snappers, and groupers. These fish thrive in the clear waters and diverse habitats of the archipelago, contributing to its vibrant marine ecosystem.

A school of fish swimming in the rich underwater world of San Blas.
Explore the rich sea life of the underwater world in San Blas.

Sea Turtles and Marine Mammals

San Blas is home to several species of sea turtles, including the hawksbill, green, and loggerhead turtles. These species play vital roles in marine ecosystems. Also, bottlenose dolphins are commonly encountered in San Blas waters, known for their playful behavior and social structure. Their presence adds to the allure of marine excursions in the region.

Additionally, there are occasional sightings of humpback whales during certain seasons as they migrate through the Caribbean waters.

Other Marine Life

Guna Yala is also home to a variety of invertebrates such as sea stars, known for their striking appearance and ecological significance, and crustaceans like crabs and lobsters. Other notable marine life includes manta rays and the peculiar nurse sharks, also called "sleeper sharks", named for their calm nature. Don't miss the opportunity to swim with them! They often approach our catamarans in San Blas to feed on the remains of fish and lobster that our onboard chef discards into the surrounding sea.

Swimming with a nurse shark, a unique and fun activity to do on a catamaran charter in San Blas with its rich marine life.
Swimming with our friends the nurse sharks.


It's important to be mindful of marine life when you're here. Avoid touching or taking sea stars out of the water, and try not to disrupt the dolphins. Instead, take pleasure in watching them play and swim freely.

Ultimately, exploring the amazing underwater world of San Blas is a unique journey into the heart of conservation and natural beauty. Catamaran charters offer unparalleled access to the region's abundant sea life, allowing travelers to snorkel among vibrant coral reefs, swim alongside sea turtles, and witness the serene grace of dolphins. By supporting sustainable tourism practices and respecting local conservation efforts, every journey on board our catamarans in San Blas contributes to the preservation of this marine paradise.

Discovering and interacting with the archipelago's sea life not only provides a fun and unforgettable experience but also fosters a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving marine ecosystems for future generations.

Join us on a mind-bending catamaran cruise and explore the marine wonders of the San Blas islands, a privileged place in the Caribbean. Contact us for more info. We love to help :)


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Jun 20
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

We also loved the marine life in San Blas! During our recent visit, we had the opportunity to witness an abundance of amazing sea life. One unforgettable highlight was encountering a congregation of manta rays from the Lagoon 57 catamaran. It was truly mind-blowing!


Jun 19
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Got to spend some time onboard Salina 48 Mambo Diablo in San Blas this June 2024. Weather was amazing and we had very little rain. It was an epic experience and we got to swim with wild dolphins 2 different times.Our kids loved it!!! David the captain knew exactly where to find all marine life. Trip of a life time! We will come back but this time for a week.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page