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Old 10-09-2015, 12:09   #1
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Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Hi all,

My wife and i will be heading back to Florida from Cartagena so she can give birth, and we were wondering if it is worth stopping in panama for 10 days or so on the way back? I know its a mother for fee's visiting there so id like to know opinions* of people who are either there or were recently there. I am a diver and a spear fisher and so my main activities would be water based.

Is it worth paying the 500+ dollars for a 2 week visit?

Let the discussion begin
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Old 10-09-2015, 12:22   #2
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Have been there 3 times some time ago. One of the best places I have been out of 19 countries. That said I would go and pay the price for one time. San Blas is a special place.
Bob
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Old 10-09-2015, 13:17   #3
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

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Originally Posted by natraps116 View Post
Hi all,



My wife and i will be heading back to Florida from Cartagena so she can give birth, and we were wondering if it is worth stopping in panama for 10 days or so on the way back? I know its a mother for fee's visiting there so id like to know opinions* of people who are either there or were recently there. I am a diver and a spear fisher and so my main activities would be water based.



Is it worth paying the 500+ dollars for a 2 week visit?



Let the discussion begin

I know I am in the minority but I would spent the time in the southeast Bahamas where the spear fishing is good and the locals will not be saying give me dollar every time you interact with them. It's also a little spendy at $300 and may be out of you way depending on which way you intend to pass Cuba. Of course San Blas is out of the way a bit as you will loose some of your easting. It could also depend on the season, San Blas is better without all the rain which clouds up the water.


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Old 10-09-2015, 13:36   #4
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Quote:
southeast Bahamas where the spear fishing is good
Hope you are talking about a Hawaiian sling, the only approved spearfishing device in the Bahamas.

Carsten
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Old 10-09-2015, 13:44   #5
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Personally we can not wait to go back and spend more time. It was totally fantastic. Wonderful and unique culture.
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Old 10-09-2015, 13:45   #6
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

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Originally Posted by CarstenWL View Post
Hope you are talking about a Hawaiian sling, the only approved spearfishing device in the Bahamas.



Carsten

Yes or a pole spear and with out scuba equipment similar to the rules of most country's. The U.S. Still allows spearguns but that should probably be changed imo.


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Old 10-09-2015, 13:45   #7
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Hi,

I guess the only answer is how much $500 will impact your financial health. We certainly found the place to be still very special. I had sailed there for the first time in '89 with my dad, so was a bit nervous that it would be a little bit spoiled when we visited there last year. There are more boats now by far, but the Kuna are still some wonderful people to be amongst, and the islands and surrounding reefs are as beautiful as ever.

Honestly, I don't remember the cruising permit costing that much. We got it in Panama city when we checked in for the canal transit. I think that cruising permit and visas for 2 ran us something closer to $300. This was in late 13/early 14. I could be remembering wrong, though.

The only fee anybody asked us for in the islands themselves was for a 10 dollar donation (for 1 month of anchoring) in the Holandes cays.

Anyway, I would say by all means pay the place a visit. It's one of our favorite spots after many years of cruising, and many countries. We will return this season for another visit.

Good sailing, TJ
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Old 10-09-2015, 14:09   #8
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Sorry I think there is some misunderstanding....San Blas panama people

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Old 10-09-2015, 14:22   #9
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Are you sailing back to FL? If so, and planning to go up through the windward passage, you make your trip much more difficult by going west to SB. The easting you already have in Cartagena is precious. If going up through Central America, then SB doesn't add much more difficulty to that route.

Two weeks in SB this time of year will not be highly rewarding spearfishing-wise unless you get an experienced person to go with. The fish are off the hot water reefs now, and knowing where they are hiding out takes a lot of experience. Also, the water quality is bad with the hot weather and heavier rains. You can always get some small snapper and triggers, though.

If you are spending any further time in Panama, the immigration/customs fees you pay in SB are also good for the year in Panama, so it isn't just the SB.

We spent 2 years in the SB and will head back for more - so I guess we think it is worth it.

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Old 10-09-2015, 14:22   #10
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

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Sorry I think there is some misunderstanding....San Blas panama people

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Is that from some pm you received? I looked back and can not see anyone referring to another San Blas?


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Old 10-09-2015, 14:26   #11
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

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Are you sailing back to FL? If so, and planning to go up through the windward passage, you make your trip much more difficult by going west to SB. The easting you already have in Cartagena is precious. If going up through Central America, then SB doesn't add much more difficulty to that route.

Two weeks in SB this time of year will not be highly rewarding spearfishing-wise unless you get an experienced person to go with. The fish are off the hot water reefs now, and knowing where they are hiding out takes a lot of experience. Also, the water quality is bad with the hot weather and heavier rains. You can always get some small snapper and triggers, though.

If you are spending any further time in Panama, the immigration/customs fees you pay in SB are also good for the year in Panama, so it isn't just the SB.

We spent 2 years in the SB and will head back for more - so I guess we think it is worth it.

Mark
My route I plan on taking is san blas, to San andreas, to roatan, to belize,to cuba,to florida
We just sailied aginst the wind and current to get here so I figure sailing with it will be pretty easy....

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Old 10-09-2015, 14:47   #12
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

A
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Have been there 3 times some time ago. One of the best places I have been out of 19 countries. That said I would go and pay the price for one time. San Blas is a special place.
Bob
+1. A special place, especially given the Kuna culture. Shame to be so close and miss it.

We've spent the past 3 seasons in the San Blas and plan to spent at least part of next season there again.

Of course, if the new fees actually get enforced then it will be cost prohibitive.
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Old 10-09-2015, 14:48   #13
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Yes, that route makes stopping in the SB more reasonable than the route heading N from there.

Mark
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Old 10-09-2015, 14:57   #14
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

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Originally Posted by CarstenWL View Post
Hope you are talking about a Hawaiian sling, the only approved spearfishing device in the Bahamas.

Carsten
Bahamas?


Per Kuna law (San Blas, Panama), foreigners are not permitted to take anything from the sea regardless of how. But, enforcement is non-existemt so people do.
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Old 10-09-2015, 16:52   #15
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Re: Are the San Blas Islands Worth it?

Another thought, you can find picturesque islands and coral reefs in many places, but very few indigenous cultures remaining who've not only survived, but also retained a high degree of autonomy.
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