Not only do clients choose which agency to book their tour to the San Blas Islands with, San Blas Dreams also tries to best select its clients, in what way? We have created this guide line to best explain what to expect from a tour to the San Blas Islands, we in SBD are aware that the San Blas tours are not suitable for all kinds of people. If you are an intransigent or demanding person with schedules or if you are looking for a 5 stars service, this tour is not for you, for this reason we do not recommend booking any type of tour to the San Blas Islands. We prefer a client who is informed and aware of his/her choice to a client with wrong expectations and disappointed with the tour chosen. Please take 5 minutes before booking to read this basic information.
San Blas Dreams has been in this business for over 8 years and over the years we have become leaders in Panama for tours to San Blas Islands. In direct contact with the Guna population, over the years we have selected only the best islands and Guna families to guarantee our customers the best possible experience.
We really care about our reputation. We’re not a booking agency that tells you whatever you want to hear to get you to book a trip. We tell you what to expect as we hope there’s no surprises. Please read all our information well. It will give you the basics of how it all works and make yourself aware of what to expect during the trip by car, boat and once arrived on the Islands.
When you do book though, we will assume that you have read all the info and picked the Island that's best for you, with our well detailed web page.
RESERVATIONS & PAYMENTS
Booking is very easy, you can book directly from our site by credit/debit card (paying only a down payment, the rest will be paid on the day of travel exclusively in cash), also, all purchases in the islands must be made in cash. So please get cash no later than the night before and keep in mind your daily limits when planning to have enough cash. We work together with the Kuna on all aspects of the trip and most of your ticket money stays in San Blas, distributed among the local people we work with and the different communities we visit along the way, including our staff, boats , the accommodation, the food and the beautiful places where we spend time every day. It is necessary that we receive the balance on the day of the tour in cash to pay for any services provided by the Kuna. After booking you should receive a confirmation email. It is very important that you read this email and the attachments to ensure a smooth trip. We recommend you do not be wrong to enter your email during the booking. ON THE DAY OF THE TOUR, IT IS MANDATORY TO BRING THE TICKETS THAT YOU RECEIVED BY EMAIL, PRINTED OR PDF ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE.
Make sure you get enough cash in Panama City before the trip. Remaining balance should be paid in cash dollars. There are no ATMs in San Blas, we strongly recommend to withdraw the cash needed the day before the tour.
If you need here you can find our guide on how to book.
The vehicles that provide service to the Guna territory are heavily regulated. There is a very limited number of approved vehicles, each of which carries a maximum of 6 passengers + the driver. So unless your group is exactly 6 guests or you booked private transport the vehicle that picks you up will likely make other stops to pick up more guests. Seats cannot be chosen in advance and they will be assigned randomly depending on the route for the collection of passengers.Exceptions are made for special cases, in this case you can write to our email and we will try to find the best solution. Every day from 5:30 am we start to pick up our customers meaning we can reach to you from that time to 6:00 am, SUVs we have fit up to 6 people, which means that depending on the route before you can collect other customers. Sometimes it happens that customers are not ready and we are forced to wait for them (we try not to leave anyone behind). In this case we ask you for a little patience, we always do our best to be with you as soon as possible. If they are unable to locate you they will have to move on out of respect for the other guests. If this happens we do not refund deposit payment.
The drive from Panama City to the port is approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes. This does not include: picking up other guests, waiting times at a variable amount of police checkpoints, queue time at the entrance of the Guna territory, traffic, or weather delays.
Once the jeeps turn off the main highway there will be about one total hour of driving through hills and turns. This total stretch is about 42 kilometers and there are markers on the side on the road with the kms if you would like to keep track.
Our drivers are experts on these roads and although they may seem a little reckless at times, this is not the case, it is simply the best way to drive on these roads as the safety of our customers is our priority. For this reason, we always ask you to let us know if you did not like something during the trip in order to improve the service and make your experience an unforgettable adventure.
If the randomly assigned seat is not to your liking and you decide not to participate in the tour, the down payment you made will NOT BE REFUNDED.
*Space in cars and boats is very limited, so we recommend that you bring the minimum and leave the large suitcase at your hotel / apartment in Panama City, it is prohibited to bring beach chairs, large coolers or other large objects that takes up a lot of space.
THIS PICTURE IS JUST AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE SEATS IN THE CARS ARE
BOAT TRIP TO THE ISLAND
Once you arrive at the port, the trip will begin with the Guna family who will host you on their island, they will be in charge of all boat trips, accommodation on the island, food preparation and tours when they are included. Please note that trips to San Blas unlike all our other tours are NOT "Guided Tours", not all host families speak English, for this reason we invite you to collaborate with them for anything you need, this is also part of the Guna Yala experience.
At times the boat rides will be wet, (this is part of the adventure). Make sure to protect all your valuable items such as passport, phone, camera etc. We do not recommend bringing your computer or tablet with you. Guests must be in good enough physical condition to board the boats from the beach.
IN THE ISLAND
Most accommodations and restroom facilities in Guna Yala are basic and some are even rustic. Please be sure you are well informed about the facilities of the island you have chosen to ensure your expectations are met. If an island does not directly offer private bathrooms then it generally means they are shared. No islands offered here have air conditioning, some offer solar or generator power in the rooms and fans, others do not. The quality of mattresses and pillows at most islands is mediocre. Their infrastructure is currently under development and service might not be entirely satisfactory in some cases, if you are an intransigent or demanding person with schedules or if you are looking for a 5 stars service, this tour is not for you, but if you wish to enjoy extraordinary beaches in the Caribbean then we invite you to book with us.
Tourism is relatively new in the islands and luxury cannot be expected. Most accommodations are rustic, meals are basic and timing often not exact.
Guests are responsible for providing their own beverages including water.
All meals are included, but it never hurts to have some things of your own. Some beverages and snacks are available for purchase in the islands but the selection is limited and it depends on where you are too so it is best to bring some with you. If you have certain dietary restrictions (eg. vegetarian, gluten free) we highly recommend to bring snacks as the main meal options are very limited. We encourage to purchase what is available in the islands such as water, beers & soda to support the locals.
Guna Yala is a semi-autonomous indigenous Comarca (territory). The comarca, its residents and approved agencies such as ourselves are under the authority of the Guna Congreso (government) when operating within the territory. As guides and an agency for Guna Yala law requires us to work within a network of approved Guna contractors for island accommodation and staff and within a similar network for approved regulated transportation services. Non Guna staff members are prohibited in the islands, as are non Guna owned assets being used for commercial purposes.
The use of Drones is not allowed in the San Blas Islands. You could get a fine and get your drone taken away from you. San Blas Dreams is not responsible and can't intervene in any way, regarding the decisions made by the Guna General Congress.
VERY BUSY SEASONS IN SAN BLAS The usual high season in San Blas is between December to April, but within this time there are certain dates that could be even busier than normal, causing heavy traffic to enter the port, very crowded islands and the experience might not be the best, these seasons are: Around Christmas and New Year's Eve, Carnivals, Easter and Panamanian holidays in November (first and last week).
Please be aware of this information before booking your tour.
To enter the Guna community passport is required (Valid and with the entry stamp to Panama), copies of passports are not allowed. For Panamanians or residents original ID or residency card is required.
The fees to be paid to enter the Guna community are:
Panamanian citizens and foreign residents: $8 Tourists: $ 23 (starting from 6 years)
In case of rain the tour will take place anyway, unfortunately we cannot guarantee perfect weather conditions but we promise to comply with the contracted tour even in adverse conditions, in case there is a prohibition of departure by the authorities, national or regional, the tour could be moved to another date or cancelled, in this case the down payment made will be refunded.
From December to April, besides being the high season period, it is also the period of the winds and therefore the most agitated sea in some days. In this case it can happen for the safety of all customers the various tours on the islands can be delayed or even canceled, the safety of customers comes first, the Guna are due to comply with every security law, so we ask for understanding.
We do not offer refunds or discount for rain or bad weather unless a trip is cancelled by us for safety reason.
FEEDBACK OUR CUSTOMERS
The feedback of our clients is super important, it is thanks to them that over the years we have managed to improve the service offered and that day by day we try to continue doing so, this is why we always invite you to email us to let us know about your experience, we are very attentive to any advice and possible complaints that you send us.
Having that said, it sometimes happens that some clients contact us after the tour to the San Blas islands with some "RARE" comment asking us for partial money refunds for no real reason, as well as threatening to leave a bad comment on the different web and social pages. It is good to know that all San Blas Dreams staff work 24 hours a day to try to be as close as possible to their clients, but in no way will we tolerate these threats that we consider infamous and totally disrespectful, the same threats are they will send to the different web pages that deal with receiving reviews. We have also created this guide for this reason, so that the client can better understand what to expect from a tour to the San Blas Islands without having negative surprises once on the islands.
We are a booking agency and DO NOT own any of the islands that we work with. Once arrived at the port for departure to the islands it is the responsibility of the Guna family to carry on the level of service that we pride ourselves on. We are not responsible for weather conditions, actions by government employees, civil disobedience, acts of God or other random events that may occur. We do our best to work around/avoid these events and will keep you informed of any changes that may occur to your trip. We are not responsible for lost or damaged items. All passengers should have travelers insurance prior to the trip. Adventure travel has inherent risk involved. By booking and paying for your trip you are accepting said risk and San Blas Dreams will not be held liable. To read the complete "Terms and Conditions" and the Refund Policy clickhere.
LOST OR FORGOTTEN ITEMS San Blas Dreams is NOT responsible for lost, forgotten or damaged items on the islands or in the cars, it is the customer's sole responsibility to avoid losing or forgetting items. If you forget items in the car or on the island, San Blas Dreams will do everything possible to find them and return them to you in Panama City, as long as it is found, in that case you must contact us as soon as possible.