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General Information

TThe trip is around 5 days in total. Three days are spent island hopping around the San Blas Islands and two days at open sea. The length of the trip and the islands you visit will depend on weather conditions and the departure/arrival point of the trip.

From Colombia most of the boats depart in the late afternoon/evening of the first day and end the morning of the sixth. There are a couple boats that end the afternoon of the fifth day.

From Panama, boats that depart from El Porvenir start their trip in the morning of the first day and end in Cartagena on the fifth day (though it could be the sixth depending on the seas). Those departing from Puerto Lindo or Portobello usually depart in the evening of the first day and end in Cartagena on the sixth day but again arrival can be affected by the sea, wind and current.


BOOKING & PAYMENT

The price of the trip is set by the captains of each boat and are the same no matter where you book.

The trip costs between 450 and 650 USD per person. Most boats charge 550 USD per person. Prices may vary from boat to boat and seasonally. Please contact us for exact prices.

You can book directly with us in our office in Cartagena or via email

 

What is the included:

  • All meals, drinking water, tea and coffee
  • Accommodation on the boat
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Fishing equipment is available on most boats. Scuba diving and spearfishing is prohibited in Kuna 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.
 

Not included:

  • Kuna Yala Congresso entrance tax $20USD per person
  • Transport to/from arrival and departure port
  • Alcoholic drinks, mixers, and snacks
  • Entry visa/fees

Kuna Yala Entrance Tax

The Kuna Yala Congresso charge an entrance fee of 20 USD per person. This applies to anyone entering by boat, land or plane.
For passengers boarding a boat from El Porvenir, the fee will be collected at a checkpoint on the road to the coast before you arrive to the speedboat transfer dock.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT YOU COLLECT A RECEIPT

For boats departing from Puerto Lindo/Portobello, your captain will collect the payments on the boat and pay at the local immigration office at the same time as completing immigration.

THERE IS NO 100 USD ENTRANCE TAX FOR PANAMA


Departure Points

From Colombia

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 6-8 mil pesos. Every once in a while (especially during rough season) some boats may depart from Sapzurro on the border of Panama in the Darien.

 


From panama

Puerto Lindo/Portobello are where port captain and immigration are and an easy place to start the trip. Both are small seaside towns on the Caribbean coast of Panama, a short 20 minute drive from each other. To arrive there from Panama City you can take local buses which take 3-5 hours or we will arrange a shuttle van which takes around 2 hours and costs 25 USD per person.

El Porvenir is a popular departure/arrival port. Porvenir is an island in San Blas with an immigration office. Carti is located on the coast nearer to the mainland and also a popular port. Transport to both of these ports will be arranged for you through an external transport company. Each passenger will need 30 USD for the jeep from Panama City to the coast, 2 USD for taxes and 15-20 USD for a speedboat to Porvenir or 5 USD to Carti. Please note, road access to the coast is restricted and not accessible with public transport.

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Please Remember

We want to remind you as prospective passengers that when traveling by sailboat you need to be flexible. The ocean and wind are unpredictable and captains reserve the right to change the departure date due to bad weather or for mechanical issues if necessary. If you are considering this trip but are concerned with a tight connecting flight, please inform us and we will work with you to the extent of our abilities, but you may want to consider other arrangements.

he trip is not a luxury tour, nor is it a guided tour. The main responsibility of your captain is to get you safely from departure to arrival point, but along with the crew will provide the tools for you to make the most of your trip.
Everyone normally helps out with cooking and cleaning and on some boats passengers will also be asked (not forced) to help out with night watch. A helping hand is always appreciated.


Windy Season

Windy season is from mid-November to April. During this time the wind may be blowing strongly and seas can be rough, boats may alter their routes and navigate closer to the coast. At other times of year there may not be sufficient wind and boats may need to rely on the motor. Believe us the captains would rather sail but it simply depends on the wind. Safety and comfort of the passengers and boat is of utmost importance.


Cancellations

For most part, the boats depart and arrive on time. In the rare case that your trip is delayed due to bad weather conditions, mechanical issues, immigration, sickness of crew or other miscellaneous events, we will inform with as much anticipation as possible.

If your trip is delayed, it should not be more than 1 or 2 days. Please be flexible with onward travel plans in case the schedule of your trip is revised. The trip will go ahead with the new departure and arrival date, you will still receive the full trip. There are no refunds of deposits or compensation for delays less than 24 hours. If the delay is more than 24 hours, you will have the opportunity to cancel your reservation with a full refund of any pre-paid deposit.

If you decide to cancel your reservation for any reason, please let us know with as much notice as possible. The deposit is non-refundable within two weeks prior to the departure date. If you need to change your trip to a later date, we can transfer the deposit up until two weeks before the date of your original booking.


Terms & conditions

lease remember that the captains reserve the right to change or refuse passage at their discretion to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers.
We are a booking agency and DO NOT own the boats that we work with. Once you have boarded the boat it is then your captain’s responsibility 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 Blue Sailing will not be held liable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Being on the open sea is a unique experience and part of the adventure that our trips provide. It is normal that people may have some concerns about taking the sailboats, along with discouragement from our competitors, so this section is intended to shed some light on the open sea crossing.

The open sea crossing can take between 25 and 50 hours depending on the season, changes in weather and the direction you are traveling. Certain times of the year the sea tends to be choppier and larger and during other months it is much calmer. The boats do not generally stop during the crossing so this time is usually spent relaxing, fishing, looking for dolphins and whales, playing cards, reading, listening to music, getting to know each other and sleeping. As with any motion sickness, it is normal that some people will get seasick while others will not be affected. There are ways to manage it better (fresh air, staying hydrated, lying flat on your back) and common brands of seasickness medication you can buy before the trip if you are concerned.

Traveling by sailboat is the safer and more interesting way to travel. There is a misconception that the open sea is dangerous, and while there is a certain amount of risk with any adventure travel, the open sea crossing is quite safe. It is actually much less risky than taking a crowded speedboat in rough seas close to shore. Sailboats are designed for offshore navigation and they handle the sea conditions much better than smaller motor boats. Shallow waters closer to shore pose more potential risk for boats as there are reef systems that need to be watched out for and the waves can break in shallow waters.

Cartagena and Panama are below the hurricane belt and fortunately we have never had to worry about them. From July to November, it’s normal to experience small localized storms that bring a strong gust of wind and rain that usually passes within an hour or so. These squalls that come through can be quite exciting but the crews are all licensed and experienced in dealing with these events.

In the unlikely event that you do run into any problems at sea, all the boats we work with are fully equipped with all safety gear needed to handle an emergency situation. They are inspected annually and meet all safety requirements of Colombian Port Authorities.

Each boat is required to have on board a VHF radio, Epirb, SAT phone or SSB radio, GPS spot, multiple GPS navigation devices, digital and paper charts, sufficient life jackets, life rings, life rafts, fire extinguishes, flare guns, as well as emergency extra water and food and first aid kit. The captains are also licensed and experienced navigating in all seasons year-round and handling the different conditions.

Blue Sailing is the first point of contact for emergency calls and are available to respond and arrange emergency assistance if needed.

Whatever form of travel you choose to visit San Blas, we recommend you make sure the boat (be it speed boat or sailboat) is equipped with up to date safety equipment and has a coherent safety procedure.

Believe us the captains would prefer to sail but this depends first and foremost on the weather conditions. From mid-November to April the winds are most prevalent and the seas can be rough, especially when coming from Panama. These conditions usually allow for more sailing, unless the wind is too strong and the captain decides not to use the sails for safety reasons. At other times of the year, inconsistent winds may mean you simply do not have the conditions to sail and the captain will need to rely on the motor. You will likely need to use the motor for at least part of the navigation. Please be patient with the captain and understand that comfort and safety of the boat and passengers comes first.

From mid-November to April is windy season. The westerly trade winds are most prevalent during these months and the open sea can be rough. The islands are well-protected from the wind by surrounding reefs and your captain may choose to anchor in spots that are more sheltered depending on the conditions. The weather in the islands tends to be good at this time and there is less rain.

May to November is generally termed rainy season but should not deter prospective passengers from taking the trip. Rain may come in patches of 1 or 2 hours and is relatively short lived. The sailboats visit island groups that we outer lying from the mainland so tend to experience less rain. The sea is calmer in this season with less wind which offers a more comfortable ride between San Blas and Cartagena.

During the months of July to September, it’s normal to experience small localized storms called “culo de pollos”, which bring a strong gust of wind followed by a short spelt of rain. These are not to be concerned about and make for a more adventurous sail!

The captain we work with are experienced navigating year round in all seasons.

There is plenty to do in the islands but this will depend on you and how you chose to spend your time. Snorkeling, swimming, playing volleyball/football, beach bonfires, exploring the islands and meeting the local Kuna inhabitants, fishing and relaxing under a palm tree with a beer in hand are all possibilities.

Yes you can bring your own alcohol and mixers. The boats have fridges or coolers to keep your drinks cold. For those beer lovers, please bring cans rather than glass bottles. There is no limit to how long much you bring but please be sensible regarding the amount you drink and respect your captain’s decision to restrict drinking during the open sea navigation.

Under no circumstances should anyone bring drugs on board with them. You will be crossing international borders and all international laws and penalties apply.

The crew will do their best to accommodate to those guests with special diets, this includes vegetarians, pescatarians, vegan and gluten free. If this applies to you, please make sure to let us know in advance.

It can be difficult to find alternative products for gluten free or vegan diets, especially in the islands so please consider bringing extra snacks along with you.

If you have a genuine allergy to any specific foods or something in the environment, you should inform us and take appropriate measures.

We ask that people please be flexible with dietary requests unless it’s necessary.

Tourists from most countries are not required to have a visa or pay an entrance fee, and should receive a 90 day tourist stamp on arrival to both Panama and Cartagena. However, passengers are responsible for checking any special conditions or requirements relevant to them.

Canadians are required to pay a reciprocity fee on arrival to Colombia.

We recommend that you have proof of onward travel tickets when entering Panama in case immigration requests it. This can be any flight within three months of arrival from any country and should be printed out. We can print tickets in our office. For passengers traveling from Panama, we can provide a formal confirmation of your booking which should suffice as proof of onward travel when you enter the country. Please ask us if you require it.

Yellow fever certificates are not required when entering by boat.

Most boats will take surfboards or bicycles free of charge, while others charge a small fee. It’s very likely these will be strapped on deck as space inside the boat is limited. You should take appropriate measures to ensure your items are protected from sun/salt air e.g surfboard bag, protector spray.

We use external transport companies to and from the boats who may charge their own fees for carrying bikes and surfboards.

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