The trip is normally 5 days and 5 nights. About 3 days are spent island hopping around San Blas and two days (30-50 hours) on the open sea crossing. The exact length of the trip and the islands you visit will depend on weather conditions. Most of the sailboats depart in the late afternoon/evening of the first day and end the morning of the sixth.
Guest sleep and eat most meals aboard the sailboat. When sailing or motoring time can be spent relaxing,enjoying the scenery, fishing, looking for dolphins and whales, playing cards, reading, listening to music, getting to know each other and sleeping. Boats generally do not stop during the open sea crossing, this is generally between 30 to 50 hours.
While in the islands anchorages will be much more frequent. There is plenty to do in the islands including snorkeling, swimming, playing volleyball/football, beach bonfires, exploring the islands and meeting the local Guna inhabitants, or relaxing under a palm tree with a beer in hand are all possibilities.
All meals, drinking water, tea and coffee
Accommodation on the boat
Fishing equipment is available on most boats. Scuba diving and spearfishing is prohibited in Guna Yala
All boats are equipped with proper safety gear, life jackets, emergency life raft, multiple navigation devices (electronic and manual), VHF radio, SAT line and GPS spot device.
All paperwork and standard immigration fees.
Guna Yala Congresso entrance tax $20USD per person
Transport to/from arrival and departure port
Alcoholic drinks, mixers, and snacks
Personal property insurance
The boats depart from Cartagena, Colombia. The point of departure is the Club Nautico marina in Manga. This is a 5-10 minute taxi ride from the center of town and should cost 7-8,000 pesos. Every once in a while (especially during rough season) some boats may depart from Sapzurro on the border of Panama in the Darien.
All sailboats depart from either Puerto Lindo or Portobello. These are small seaside towns on the Caribbean coast of Panama, a 20 minute drive from each other. To arrive there from Panama City you can take local buses which take 4-5 hours or we will arrange a shuttle which takes around 2.5 hours and costs 25 USD per person.
Unless you specifically book a private cabin the berths are made up of single and doubles in shared cabins or common areas in the boat. If you would like to pick your spot on the boat make sure to book early.
There is very limited privacy on sailboats. If you are not comfortable in a normal hostel dormitory situation then you should consider if the trip is right for you.
For the entire trip your accommodation will be your designated berth on the boat, which may be a single or double bunk, in a shared dorm or private cabin. There is limited availability of private double cabins and you can book a specific bed based on availability. If you are not given the specific bed that you reserved, it is important to inform the crew. This is likely just a mix-up and can only be resolved at the start of the trip.
Some boats use the salon area for additional sleeping. Though it’s not as private, the salon has good airflow and is a good option for those concerned with seasickness or claustrophobia.
Some boats may ask single travelers to share a double bed with another passenger. If this is a concern for you, please advise us before finishing your booking.
It is normal that the crew sleeps outside on mattresses or in the common areas. They often prefer to be outside to keep an eye on the weather conditions and hear any changes to the wind. Please respect this as their sleeping area.
Most boats are not equipped with proper showers and freshwater is limited so everyone needs to conserve it. You will have the opportunity to rinse off on deck with fresh water at the end of the day and a few islands offer shower facilities that you can use for 1 or 2 USD, a salty bath in crystal clear water is free.
The captain is in charge of the water supply and at any time may change the rules if deemed necessary. Your dishes will likely be washed with salt water. Fresh water is like gold on a sailing boat, once it runs out you cannot get more (unless it rains) so please be flexible and conscious of water consumption e.g. do not leave the water running as your brush your teeth.
If something has not first traveled through your body, it should not go in the toilet. Boat sanitation systems use salt water so you do not need to worry about how many times you flush, but contents will be re-circulated back into the sea. Please avoid putting inorganic items into the toilet; this includes toilet paper, tampons and sanitary napkins, and garbage. Traditional boat toilets have manual pumps that your captain and crew will explain how to use. Please pay attention and if in doubt, pump more times than you think necessary. If you have any problems, don’t be embarrassed to let a crew member know, chances are they have dealt with it many times before.