Close your eyes and imagine the perfect weather in the San Blas islands. The sky is cloudless. The sun shines and reflects off the warm turquoise blue water magnifying the view below its depths. You share the white sand beaches with only palm trees. The shade from their leaves and a gentle breeze keeps you cool. You sip on a fresh coconut, you are in paradise!
This is the ideal version, the Instagram image, and what many people visualize before visiting the San Blas islands in Panama. And indeed these majestic islands do have the potential to deliver this experience. But in reality the weather is not always perfect and the beaches are not always empty. Certain months have better weather, others are less crowded and a few months vary in both weather and visitor count. For your San Blas islands experience to meet your expectations it is best to be informed about the weather, plan accordingly, and it also helps to get a bit lucky 🙂
I cannot help you with luck but I can tell you what to expect from the weather in San Blas. These recommendations are based on my 7 years of guiding experience in the islands. Whereas most people writing on this subject have divided the year into 2 seasons (rainy and dry) I have organized the year in San Blas into 3 seasons:
- High Season: characterized by dry sunny weather, high winds, and a lot of visitors to the islands.
- Transitional Seasons: characterized by variable weather and winds, and a moderate amount of visitors.
- Low Season: characterized by rainy weather, calm winds, and minimal visitors to the islands.
HIGH SEASON – San Blas islands weather
- January, February, March
- Average rainfall per month: 42mm
- Recommended Month: March
With less rain, tons of sun and the arrival of the Panamanian summer the islands get busy. On some days hundreds of new visitors come at once. This can lead to delays on the one road to the island ports and crowds on the popular islands. I recommend avoiding weekends and Panamanian holidays. These are the most crowded days and often a lot of people are partying.
Much of Panama starts to dry out in December but San Blas takes a bit longer. January is the beginning of the dry season and the dream like weather conditions in the islands.
Also during these months the wind can be fairly strong which can make the boat rides bumpy and wet. High season is absolutely stunning in San Blas, but the beaches are rarely empty. Of the High Season months I recommend going near the end of March. The weather is still gorgeous but both the winds and visitor volume decrease a bit.
TRANSITIONAL SEASONS – San Blas islands weather
- December and April
- Average rainfall per month: 130mm
- Recommended month in this season: April
Low season and High Season in San Blas do not end from one day to the next, they transition over one month periods in December and April. During these months the average rainfall, wind, sunny days, and number of visitors are all at mid levels.
In December low season is ending, rainy days are fewer, and visitor volume starts to build up. By April high season is ending, sunny days are fewer, and visitor volume starts to decrease. These months are your best opportunity to score the much sought after combination of beautiful weather and low visitor volume.
If you are choosing between December and April I recommend April. It has 33% less rain that December, is slightly less windy and the visitor volume is roughly the same.
LOW SEASON – San Blas islands weather
- May, June, July, August, September and November
- Average rainfall per month: 283mm
- Recommended month in this season: July
If sunny blue skies and little rain is a must I would not recommend visiting Panama from May through November. During these months it is raining almost daily throughout the entire country of Panama. The San Blas islands are no different. Most days have some rain but also there are often very sunny and nice periods between. Of the low season months November has the most rain (330 mm) and July has the least (216 mm).
If you are someone that can appreciate the beauty of the country bathed in warm tropical rain then Panama and San Blas during Low Season could be nice for. You may get lucky and find those few sunny days and very few other visitors. If you do go to the islands during low season try to go in July when the rainfall is lowest and the winds are calm. Ideally avoid the months of October and November due to high rainfall, increased wind and several Panamanian holidays.
For visitors that are worried about experiencing bad weather I suggest for you booking one night to start. Then extending once you are in in the islands if the weather is good. Normally the island accommodations are not full this time of year. So you can add one night at a time if the weather proves to be good.
MORE HELPFUL TIPS
I hope that this information is helpful in planning your perfect San Blas islands trip. These idyllic islands can be the back drop for memories that last a lifetime. Whenever you come make sure to check out What To Pack For The San Blas Islands. This will ensure you are prepared for a comfortable trip.
PS. For all kinds of cool weather data about the San Blas islands see Meteoblue.