Here is a small “how to get to”-guide to the various ports of departure in Panama used by our sailboats.
Carti & Porvenir
Most of the San Blas sailboats leave from San Blas it self, either from Carti or Porvenir.
Carti is the rustic mainland port of San Blas. Every morning the port is busy with supplies that are being sent to the San Blas Islands. Also you may encounter various backpackers ready to depart for Colombia on their respective San Blas sailboat cruises.
Carti itself does not have any population. The best is to arrive the morning of departure if this is your port of departure unless you have cleared with the captain that you can board in Porvenir. This might still be possible as the San Blas sailboats departing from Carti usually comes from Porvenir in the morning.
Porvenir is the “capital” of San Blas and situated a short boat ride from Carti. If you are departing from Porvenir you can without problem arrive a few days before to spend a few days in the Kuna Capital.
How to get to Carti and Porvenir?
To get to Carti or Porvenir you organize a 4×4 truck from Panama City. To Carti there is a 4 hours car drive that leaves from Panama City at 5 in the morning. You organize the 4×4 pickup with your hostel in Panama City and the 4×4 car will pick you up at your hostel. The fare is normally between 45-50 USD.
If your San Blas sailboat is departing from Porvenir you will have to take fast local boat from Carti.
If you are going the opposite way the captain will help you arrange your trip from Porvenir to Panama City.
Puerto Lindo & Porto Belo
Colon, Puerto Lindo and Porto Belo was in the past the most popular ports of departure. Colon has been dropped by most San Blas sailboats as the city has become too dangerous to stay.
With the newly built road to Carti more and more San Blas sailboats have moved their departure to San Blas. However, there are still a few that prefer to leave from Puerto Lindo and Porto Belo and it certainly has its advantages.
Getting from Panama City to Porto Lindo and Porto Belo is much cheaper than traveling to San Blas. Your bus fare should be way bellow 10 USD compared to the 45-50 USD to get to San Blas.
From Porto Belo or Porto Lindo there is a 8-10 hour sail to get to San Blas. This time is added to your total trip. It will not affect your sailing time in San Blas compared to the San Blas sailboats leaving from San Blas. That is more sailing time for your money right here.
How to get to Puerto Lindo?
From Panama City you should leave midday on the day before departure from the bus terminal Albrook. Take the express bus to Colon-Sabanitas. Ask the driver to let you know when you are in the village of Sabanitas and get off the bus at the last Rey Supermarket.
From here you take the bus to Costa Arriba / La Guaira / Puerto Lindo.
The first bus from Panama to Sabanitas should be about 1 hour and from Sabanitas to Puerto Lindo is aout 1,5 hours.
This trip should take around 1 hour.
How to get to Porto Belo?
Get the express coach from Panama City bus terminal and go all the way to Colon Transportation Terminal. From there either jump on a local bus (old US school buses) to Portobelo or take the Costa Arriba to get out in Portobelo.
The total traveling time including transfer should be around 5 hours from Panama City bus terminal to Portobelo.