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Old 21-09-2012, 08:50   #1
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San Blas Island Fees

Hi all -

I've done a search (online and the forum) and am coming up empty handed so I was hoping someone in this group may have a little more information. Does anyone know if and how much the entry fee is for the San Blas Islands? I'm trying to put together a realistic budget before we set sail in November and this is the one fee I still need.

Thanks!
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Old 21-09-2012, 10:20   #2
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

The Panama cruising permit costs $193. The immigration fee is now $100/person, but this is new and seems variable at this time. It used to be $10/person and some still pay that while others get charged $100.

The Panama checkin and fees are required for visiting the San Blas.

In the San Blas proper, there is a Kuna Yala fee of $20/month plus $2/person. In addition, many of the individual communities charge an anchorage fee of $5-10/month.

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Old 21-09-2012, 16:40   #3
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

I do apologize for getting a bit sidetracked from the original question but I also have questions about the San Blas Islands. Specifically concerning marinas in Panama where (if possible) we could leave our boat say weeks at a time and return periodically.
Unfortunately I am a part time cruiser and still have to return to the US because of work related issues. Despite the burden I bare I still have been able to sail down the eastern Caribbean chain, then to Los Roques, Bonaire and Curacao where our boat is presently.
I would appreciate any input from people who have been there recently or are there now regarding safety in leaving a boat and the practicality of flying in and out of Panama.
Apparently noonsite identifies two marinas in Bocas Del Toro which according to their web site appear that they may be acceptable.
Would appreciate any comments from persons who have actually been there.
If this is something that will not work for us then we will simply head back north and save Panama for another time.
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Old 22-09-2012, 00:22   #4
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

Check out Shelter Bay Marina. We went thru there about 6 months ago and there were various boats left there, both in the water and on the hard, while the owners went home.

A bit expensive though and located in the middle of the jungle about 30 km from Colon. Costs US$100 to get to the airport. There are 2 crocs living inside the marina, so watch your kids and pets!
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Old 22-09-2012, 04:04   #5
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

The san blas are cheap once you clear into panama. $300 to $500 to clear in, not much to spend money on once there.

In Bocas we are staying at red frog marina. It ok, more expensive and not a lot of services. Beach access is nice for walking our dog, but the marina doesn't like dogs. Bocas marina is nice as is marina carenero. Shelter bay is expensive and in Colon, not much to do there.
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Old 24-09-2012, 03:26   #6
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

Note too that practically every time you change anchorages in the San Blas then you will pay again for the Kuna fee which should be good for 14 days (sometimes 30 days). We found San Blas to be expensive because we moved anchorages every couple of days. Much less expensive if you move anchorages only every few weeks or once per month. FWIW, save those receipts to prove you have already paid because they sometimes try to collect more than once.

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Old 24-09-2012, 05:44   #7
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

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Originally Posted by svBeBe View Post
Note too that practically every time you change anchorages in the San Blas then you will pay again for the Kuna fee which should be good for 14 days (sometimes 30 days). We found San Blas to be expensive because we moved anchorages every couple of days. Much less expensive if you move anchorages only every few weeks or once per month. FWIW, save those receipts to prove you have already paid because they sometimes try to collect more than once.

Judy
We have never seen anchoring fee time periods less than 30 days.

If you change anchorages to one in which you have been to in the past 30 days, then you do not have to pay again (save those receipts like Judy said).

There are many, many places in the San Blas where no fees are collected. Far more than those with fees (and they tend to be more interesting spots).

Even in the places that do charge, it is common for no one to bother coming out and collecting money. Many times they have to paddle their ulu several miles to collect fees and they simply decide not to.

In the two years we have stayed here, I think we have paid anchoring fees in the Western part of the San Blas (where the majority of boats are) about 5 times. This includes all the places that are supposed to charge fees (but mostly do not).

And before anyone thinks that we are taking advantage of the locals by avoiding fees - if a fee collector does not come out to your boat, then there is no other way of paying the fee.

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Old 24-09-2012, 06:07   #8
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

a couple of things -- we were in and out of the san blas twice last year - spent a total of over 6 months there
first - the check in in panama varies a bit and is covered well above - someplace between $300 and $500 - the kuna fee is about $20 or so and you pay it once -
second - as for the anchoring fees - there are a couple of places that will collect anchoring fees and they are about $5-10 for a month - BUT there are a few things you need to know - 1 never pay a fee without getting a receipt - no receipt no pay
2- if uncertain about the fee ask to see the order from the kuna nation or sailia (chief) that allows them to collect the fee - sometimes a kuna will come out and try to extract a fee with no authorization or receipt and we refused to pay 3 -- the panama cruisers net is basically a san blas net on ssb and you can ask on their where there are fees and how to deal with them -
san blas is an extremely cheap place to cruise

next is the marinas - one is shelter bay as above - there is also an inwater storage at panmarine and there were rumors that they were getting a haulout facility but do not know the status of that - there is also a new marina at green turtle - beyond that you have to move all the way to eastern panama to the bocas area


just our thoughts and opinions
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Old 24-09-2012, 07:26   #9
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

One correction to chuckr's post, the Kuna fee is $20 plus $2/person, and it is paid every month, not just once.

The problem is that one needs to travel to Porvenir to pay this fee. Since Porvenir is where one checks into Kuna Yala, the fee is generally paid there and few go back each month to pay it so it may seem that it is only paid once (but read below). It is possible to pay for several months at once.

Occasionally, the immigration and Kuna officials set out on a boat to visit all the anchorages and check paperwork. If one does not have the papers up to date with the Kuna fees, then they charge you the fees on the spot retroactive to the last paperwork you can produce (which is often the first entry into Kuna Yala, so the fee could be large).

I think that immigration got a new boat recently, because these visits are becoming quite regular now.

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Old 24-09-2012, 11:37   #10
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

Off topic a tudge...I am going to be headed south from Key West through the Yucatan Passage. I sure would like a heads up on portages south of Cuba and the Eastern Mexico coast to Panama. Where I hope to use San Blas as my home port to roam the Eastern Caribbean. Anyone that has suggestions on where to stop and where not to stop...that is the question. I will not have a time table, just weather and want to, will be my only itinerary. If you have a blog I could follow...that would be great.....Billy
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Old 24-09-2012, 12:35   #11
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

Marina options on the Caribbean side of Panama

Green Turtle Marina: closest one to San Blas. U$300/month plus 7% tax, no matter your size. Safe, but in the middle of nowhere... bit hard/expensive to go to Panama City.
Panamarina: U$ 6.50/ft/month. Mooring balls, no dock. Safe, great restaurant, they can clean your boat if you want. One hour bus to Sabanitas/Colon (2,75), and from there, one more hour by bus to Panama City
Shelter Bay: The more expensive one, close to Colon, with bus transfer 2 times/day to Colon.
Red Frog Beach in Bocas del Toro: U$ 11/ft/month. Clean, safe and with beautiful beaches and hiking trails.... bit far from the Bocas Town (U$ 10 to round trip to Bocas Town by panga)
Carenero Marina: U$ 7/ft/month... close to the city, great showers, not fancy, but good enough to leave the boat. good working area.
Bocas Marina: Not sure about the price, but is around 8 or 9/ft/month... nice place, safe.
From Bocas to Panama City by plane = U$113 per person one way or panga to Almirante and from there 10 hour bus to Panama City (about U$30 one way - panga and bus)
There's some moorings for rent in west Lemmon Cays, never checked the price, but heard some like 100 to 150/month.
You can fly from San Blas or take a jeep and go to Panama City... about U$ 40 one way (panga + Jeep)
Also you can rent a mooring in Puerto Lindo, but not sure about the price... one hour and 20 minutes to Sabanitas/Colon and from there one more to Panama City
Bus from Colon to Panama City = U$3,75
Taxi from Colon to Tocumen Airport... around 100 to 120
Rent a car in Panama... around 40 to 45/day with basic coverage... plus 45 to deliver in Colon if you rent in Panama City.
The prices to clear in are right... 193 for the boat, and 100/person... visa good for one year... you can renew the cruising permit and then renew the visa. Did that 2 weeks ago.
San Blas is AMAZING and Bocas is really nice too, just take care about robbery in Bocas.
Prices can change, you can find all the marinas in the internet.
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Old 24-09-2012, 17:17   #12
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

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Originally Posted by floridabilly View Post
Where I hope to use San Blas as my home port to roam the Eastern Caribbean.
You want to base out of San Blas Panama for roaming the EASTERN Caribbean? That's just plain nuts. You will be disabused of that notion on your first trip East.

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Old 24-09-2012, 17:39   #13
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridabilly View Post
Off topic a tudge...I am going to be headed south from Key West through the Yucatan Passage. I sure would like a heads up on portages south of Cuba and the Eastern Mexico coast to Panama. Where I hope to use San Blas as my home port to roam the Eastern Caribbean. Anyone that has suggestions on where to stop and where not to stop...that is the question. I will not have a time table, just weather and want to, will be my only itinerary. If you have a blog I could follow...that would be great.....Billy
you might want to look at the bottom left hand corner of the north atlantic charts if planning on going anywhere east from the san blas!

pay particular attention to the wind barbs and direction

Atlas of Pilot Charts for the Major Oceans of the World
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Old 24-09-2012, 17:54   #14
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

foridaability -- we spent about 1.5 yrs in the west carib and loved it - but you can not roam the easten carib from the san blas - the winds seas and you name it are against you - you can't even roam the west carib from the san blas except to colombia -
it took us 2 months to get a wx window to leave the san blas to get to the eastern carib and we went to jamaica -- we do know of cruisers who use to day hop around the coast of colombia and vez but you can not do that any more - or should i say should not do that as vez is a real problem child and very dangerous these days -

just my thoughts and opinions and they are worth what you paid for them
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Old 24-09-2012, 17:56   #15
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Re: San Blas Island Fees

hello floridiabilly
guess you really like sailing upwind.
might want to consult your google maps prior to that undertaking.
when based in San Blas did you really mean to say the WESTERN caribbean?
if you indeed meant to say the eastern caribbean then wow you are really hard core.......good luck and be safe!
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