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Old 10-09-2015, 17:00   #16
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

I am afraid the way to learn is to pay and see.

Some love it, some hate it.

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Old 10-09-2015, 18:33   #17
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

We were there in December/January. It was worth seeing IMO, but I think it's changed drastically in the past few years. My advice would be that it you want to see the culture and the Kunas...do it quickly....I think the San Blas that we've heard about for years is rapidly disappearing. If you're looking pristine islands and fishing.....you may be disappointed. All of our friends who've cruised the Bahamas and San Blas rated the Bahamas much higher in those two fronts.

It is an interesting place and the Kunas do have a unique culture. We certainly liked the area around Snug Harbour and east of Nargana more than west of Nargana. The villages there hadn't been overrun by cruisers and backpacker boats like the Carti group and we were often the only boats there (there were 3 of us roughly travelling through together). In the Carti group, even though the amounts didn't add up to huge amounts, it got wearisome feeling like a walking ATM spitting out $1 bills (this anchorage...$5, this beach $1/person, this Congresso fee $10.....etc, etc, etc.) after a month and half. The garbage in paradise is also something that's surprising.

If you're going for the spearfishing, it seemed really overfished in the Carti group (we didn't go fishing in the more western areas when we were there so it may be better) and the Kuna's were bringing ridiculously small lobster, crabs, and fish to sell to cruisers.

There's a new fee structure that's just been approved (there's a San Blas Cruiser's Page in FB) that if starts getting enforced as written is outrageous and will certainly drive a lot of boats out.

Some friends of ours just spent some time there and have some good posts on their blog you might find interesting. The Life Nomadik | Chronicle of a Lunatic Voyage

Finally. Don't even THINK about going without Eric Bauhaus' Panama Cruising Guide. The electronic charts available are ALL useless. Plans your moves into most of the anchorages with good light at mid-day. I think there were at least 6 yachts lost (ie. write offs) last cruising season on reefs in the San Blas.
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Old 10-09-2015, 20:30   #18
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

I just double checked the FB page with a copy of the San Blas Congresso's resolution approving the new fee structure for yachts visiting the San Blas:
- $5/sq ft per month per boat
-$20/person per month
Just quickly looked up Yes, that's per SQUARE FOOT. Figure that out if you're a 24'x48' catamaran! No idea how they plan on calculating sq feet for monohulls. There's endless debate on whether its legal or whether they really meant linear foot, but it appears it's all a bit up in the air and probably won't be resolved soon.

I'd watch the San Blas Cruisers FB page if going as there's a couple of long time cruiser's there with the most up-to-date information.

In addition there's still the annual $208 cruising permit for Panama and $100/person 'Marine Visa' that Panama also charges. Oh and if you clear in in Porvenir, San Blas, they collect for the Marine Visa, but don't have a stamp, so you have to get the visa stamp when you get to Colon (or Portobello possibly), where they charge you again $5 or $10 per passport for the stamp......don't make the mistake of going on a Saturday as I did, where you then pay another $25 for 'Overtime' even though they're open. That's Panama's bureaucratic mess though, not the San Blas which you were looking for.

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Old 11-09-2015, 08:41   #19
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

How farther from Panama how nicer it is. All in daytrips. Don't forget Cartagena. From there is it just 1 overnigt trip.
There are good charts from a book (bouhouse or so??) For open Cpn. A absolute must if you find the book. I didn't but a collor coppy was even nice.
Maybe know somme people a link to it.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:33   #20
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

The cost has gone up a factor of 10 since I was there last, but you also have to budget for the molas that your wife will buy. Great for gifts, and we still enjoy ours.
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Old 11-09-2015, 09:45   #21
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

you can find here an extract of the original Kuna new ligeslation...indeed it's 5$ per sq ft!!?

taxes sanblas | Sextan.com

so i'm 43'x14' roughly 600 very sq ft....so is that really 3000$ a month on top of the rest of taxes!!??

was there 18 months ago...so now i think i will do Aruba-Bocas del Toro...bocas has also good diving and fishing ....
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Old 11-09-2015, 16:44   #22
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Yeah, I'm all for obeying the law, bit I think im gonna roll over there, stay for a few days and roll out before I draw any attention. I'm afraid to say but alot of people returning from there I hear did not check in...

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Old 11-09-2015, 17:56   #23
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by oceane View Post
you can find here an extract of the original Kuna new ligeslation...indeed it's 5$ per sq ft!!?

so i'm 43'x14' roughly 600 very sq ft....so is that really 3000$ a month on top ....
It looked like they weren't enforcing it yet, but I stopped following the San Blas Cruisers FaceBook page a month or so ago as we're in the South Pacific now. There's a pinned post at the top of the page that appears to have the most up-to-date info on it by Michael Basler who seems to cut through most of the rhetoric and deal in facts so it might be worth checking with him to see what the latest news is on applying the new fees.
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Old 11-09-2015, 23:07   #24
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Go north to Grand Cayman, then across to Cuba and around the west end, back east to Havana then a quickie across to Key West.
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Old 12-09-2015, 07:09   #25
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by natraps116 View Post
Yeah, I'm all for obeying the law, bit I think im gonna roll over there, stay for a few days and roll out before I draw any attention. I'm afraid to say but alot of people returning from there I hear did not check in...

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There are only two places to check into Panama in the San Blas - Sapodillas in the extreme eastern end and Porviner in the extreme western end.

If you, say, entered at Pinos in the east, and left from the Lemons in the west, there would be no way possible you could check in.

Just sayin'.

You will, however, need a zarpe from your previous destination to your new destination. That will need careful consideration unless your next port is San Andres or Providencia - where your current Colombia papers are still valid and you can get clearance from there.

Just sayin' again...

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Old 13-09-2015, 07:48   #26
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Spend 1 year in San-Blas. Costs are
- 193 USD cruising permit for Panama waters. Valid 1 year.
- 100 USD visa fee for each crew (new immigration law since 2013.) Valid for the cruising permit time, 1 year.
- 25 USD Local fee payable when leaving San-Blas at Porvenir, when you get your Zarpe for Columbia.
In some islands they can ask you a mooring fee 10 USD for 1 month, valid in multiple islands. You will recieve a ticket.
After you will have to manage yiur contacts with the Kuna indian trying to sold you local handcraft (mola).
Spear fishing is forbiden for foreigners, but not for the Kuna. Charter activities are forbiden too.
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Old 13-09-2015, 07:55   #27
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

i did not know there was a fee to sail into the islands ?? i pay 193 a year to keep my boat here on a mooring in the bay of panama ,, what is the fee for ? how long is it good for ??? who do you pay it to ??? this is the first i ever heard of having to pay to sail the islands of san blas
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Old 13-09-2015, 08:12   #28
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Post #26 explains it well. Your Panama cruising permit and visa fee is good for the San Blas. However, there is a local cruising fee of $20/boat/month. Think of it as a "park fee". One must go to Porvenir to pay it, so many do not. Sometimes they come around and collect it, but that is very hit and miss.

There are also local island anchoring fees of $10/month. These too are extremely hit and miss - even on islands that have a local population.

Now there is some type of onerous fee proposed that would cost an average boat several thousand dollars a month to be there. As in almost all things Kuna, I suspect this is bluster and unenforceable and will simply go away.

In our two years in the San Blas, we probably paid the $20/boat/month fee 5 times and the island anchoring fee 10 times. Keep in mind we were not avoiding these fees - there is simply no way to pay them unless someone comes out to your boat to collect them (yes, one could haul their boat over to Porvenir every month for the boat fee, but that is extremely unrealistic when one is traveling wide and far through the the SB's).

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Old 14-09-2015, 00:53   #29
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Kuna Yala (land of Kuna) is a Comarca. That means a territory administrated by Kuna rules. So they have the right to introduce local taxes. You can check- in Porvenir. Also get your cruising permit. We payed 25 USD per month. You just tell how many month you want to stay. We had to show our receipt about 6 time in 1 year. If you didn' t pay, you can get when they come to you, but you will have to pay the monthly fees plus 15 USD because you didn' t pay at the office in Porvenir. Finally I think it' s cheap if you stay for longer time, but not if you stay only a few weeks.

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Old 20-02-2016, 23:27   #30
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

I am more or less a full time cruisers in San Blas and the only answer to 'is it worth it' is "it depends'. Some people love it and never leave while others feel they could have given it a miss, and way too many end up on the reef. The nearest ATM or chandlery is an overnight trip away in Panama City. You cant buy cheese or beef but you can get what you need to eat reasonably well, anchor off you own uninhabited island and make a fire on the beach. The Panama Guide by Erick Bathhouse is nearly mandatory and your ground tackle needs to be proven at least in sand mostly. If you don't like it here, you'll probably love Cartagena Colombia 200 miles away, the polar opposite of San Blas. Feel free to message me if you need any details. As of today, Cruising permits for Panama 1 year are about 200, immigration is $100 per person and san blas fees are $20 per boat and and person per month. Do not approach the archipelago at night and do not fully trust ANY chart.
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