San Blas Sailing – Panama to Colombia Cruise
The water is crystal clear. You can see the sandy bottom all the way down two-three meters there under the boat. You get ready to jump in the blue – turquoise water and wonder what to expect. When you hit the water is like a nice warm, but refreshing rush through the body. There is nothing like the first experience of the Blue Sailing in San Blas. It is hard to explain. You really have to experience it for yourself.
For travelers interested in San Blas sailing, there are two main options:
1. Charter a private San Blas boat trip
One is to charter a private sailboat in Panama. This can be done through a local or online agency.
2. San Blas Sailing – Panama to Colombia Cruise
Or you can do like many backpackers traveling up and down between south and central America. Kill two birds with one stone: Experience the Panama San Blas Islands and get to Colombia.
Crossing the Darien Gap
For most backpackers traveling up and down Latin America, there is a challenge crossing the Darien Gap. This is the narrow stretch of land connecting Colombia to Panama or South-America to Central America does not have a functioning road, and was up until recently a guerilla infected mosquito-ridden swampland most would stay clear of, leaving getting from A to B by boat or flying.
Since flying is boring and terrible for the environment, why not get to your destination, while experiencing one of the planets most incredible wild areas in the world by blue sailing the San Blas Islands.
What is the Panama San Blas Islands?
The Panama San Blas Islands is an archipelago stretching one-third of Panama southern coast. This is a long island scattered area protected by an outer reef, making it a beautiful sailing destination. Inside Panamas San Blas archipelago you will find smooth blue sailing for miles and miles.
It is said that the Panama San Blas Islands have 365 small, medium and large islands, but other sources claim there are 378 islands in the archipelago. It is possible that 365 has been a number stuck in peoples mind as one say there is an island for every day in the year in San Blas.
Only 49 of the islands are inhabited by the indigenous Guna Yala people.
Is it Kuna Yala or Guna Yala or..
San Blas was the Spanish name given to the island group. Other places in Latin America have the same name. There is by example a municipality in San Blas Mexico. San Blas is the Spanish name for the Armenian physician and bishop Saint Blaise who was killed in 316 AD.
San Blas was the official name until 1999 when it was changed to Kuna Yala, but since the indigenous language does not pronounce the letter K, the name was in 2011 again changed to Guna Yala, as this more closely represents the way the indigenous say the name.
Guna Yala means the land of Guna.
The Guna Yala people are some of the smallest indigenous people of the world and they live in a matrilineal society, which means they trace their kinship through the mother. The groom becomes part of the bride’s family and takes the bride’s last name.
The San Blas rebellion of 1925 leads to Panama pledging to respect and protect the Guna culture. By the end of world war 2, the Kunas had reached self-government of the San Blas Islands, which they hold to this day.
San Blas Sailing Reviews
Before 2010 it was very difficult for travelers to find good information on the best San Blas sailboats. Social media was still in its infancy and the internet did not offer much information on the topic. To add insult to injury most San Blas Sailing trips were sold by hostels who were loyal to specific sailboat captains. This resulted in greater loyalty to captains than to travelers, and many backpackers did not get good information about good and bad boats.
It was in this environment Colombia Panama Sailing was born. Colombia Panama Sailing wanted to be an online alternative to the hostels. Only sailboats that could demonstrate great service, punctuality and focus on security were invited in. The boats are also reviewed periodically to make sure standards are being kept at a high level.
San Blas Panama to Colombia
After you have done three days of amazing San Blas sailing you will embark on the final chapter of the San Blas Panama to Colombia sailboat trip. Now you will spend 36 to 40 hours in open water blue sailing.
This is a different experience from the San Blas blue sailing, that was in protected waters of the San Blas archipelago. Now you will be in open water with more waves and typically more movement of the boat.
This is a beautiful part of the sailboat trip. Most people will not get to experience such a voyage as this and there are more exciting things to experience other than the possibility of seasickness.
This is when you get the biggest chance of spotting wild dolphins playing around the boat. What an amazing experience it is to see these playful creatures jumping all around and swimming right next to you. So close you can almost reach down and touch them.
Also, many captains like to keep the fishing lure out on the open water crossings. Although it is rarely more than one blue marlin or a huge yellow finned tuna have been caught on these passages. Even sharks have found their way onboard via the fishing gear.
Star-spangled night sky
At night you will see the brightest night sky you have ever seen in your life and most probably will ever see. Out there in the missile of the ocean, there are no other light sources and you will be able to see the star-spangled night sky in all its glory.
After a long and eventful trip, you will finally see the impressive skyline of Cartagena and be happy to reach the shore. Tired from all the impressions, a shower and a bed will seem like heaven. And now there will be the incredible Cartagena to experience.
Cartagena to San Blas
For many travelers, you will be sailing from Cartagena to San Blas. Your trip will normally start in the afternoon with boarding your boat and you will set sail with the last light of the day. What an exciting start of your trip?! Sailing straight into the night you will start your trip by seeing the amazing night sky.
The very next afternoon you will reach San Blas and soon you will be living the Caribbean island dream you have always dreamed of.