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Review Highlights
Boardercrossing Panama Colombia

Crossing the boarder from Panama to Colombia with San Blas Frontera was the most incredible... read more

Reviewed 6 January 2020
ninal675
Great trip!

The team at San Blas frontera were super helpful, friendly and informative. Being able to... read more

Review collected in partnership with this attraction

Reviewed 4 January 2020
ryanegglestone
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Sydney, Australia
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Reviewed 9 April 2018

The San Blas islands are really beautiful! We stayed for 1 night with Frontera! It was not very busy at that moment, we were with the 4 of us (two couples). We were surprised by the good facilities on the island, nice cabins with a beautiful view over the ocean. We were welcomed with an excellent lunch with fresh langoustines! On the first day with did a boat tour to 2 more islands, we left the second day around 3PM. We could have stayed for another night, but you have to book additional trips I think. Or just relax in a hammock for the whole day and let the time pass.. :) Frontera is a good option for couples who just want to relax and read a book! The only negative thing was that it took a long while before we got picked up from the main land and arrived on one of the islands later then expected. For the rest I can recommend Frontera for sure!

Date of experience: February 2018
Review collected in partnership with this attraction
Thank NWeeber
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis D, Owner at San Blas Frontera, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2018

Dear NWeeber,

thanks a lot for your review! We are happy that you liked the island and the facilities as well as the food :) Sorry that you had to wait at the port, we will try to improve the communication between the drivers and the boat.

All the best
Luis

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Reviewed 6 March 2018

We used San Blas Frontera for a day trip to Comarca Gunayala, the San Blas islands. The communication with Luis was easy; he typically responded to my emails within a few hours. We were picked up at our hotel in Panama City at 5am by a driver from the Gunayala nation, who spoke good English, in a large pickup truck. He then drove to another hotel to pick up a second couple. The drive to Puerto de Carti was uneventful. During the drive, there was a 30min stop at a fairly large supermarket where our driver waited for others that he wanted to pick something up from. Later, after turning off the main highway we went North on a road with many large potholes. At about halfway on this road and shortly before the border into Gunayala territory, the cell phone signal ended. At the border, everyone could stay in the truck but had to show their passports and pay $20 admission. At the end of the road, in Puerto de Carti, the pothole ridden pavement ends and you get to a large unpaved parking lot where there are some wooden piers and many small boats. At the parking lot we paid our driver $115 (=$135 agreed on price - $20 admission we paid at the border) per person. He showed us to a boat which would be our boat for the day. The 2 Gunayala that operated the boat did not speak English, but Spanish and their native language.
During our trip, the sky was overcast, but the sun peaked through the clouds several times.
Even though the sea was fairly smooth, the boat was fast and we got fairly wet. The other couple who originally was sitting behind us got soaked and asked to be reseated in front of us. As the boat was fast, we had the front lift up often which made for many hard landings.
Our first stop was at an island where we would later eat lunch. The other couple left the boat and were shown to their cabin that they had rented for 1 night. Our boat took up a group of 5 other people and rode to our 1st destination, which was a sand bank surrounded by sea grass. The sand bank was approx. 2ft under water and, except for 2 starfish and a stingray, there was nothing else to see. A member of the other group walked and later snorkeled through the sea grass but said that there was nothing of interest. The boat personnel handed out snorkeling equipment to anyone who wanted it.
After 20 or so minutes, we continued on to another island where we were told we should relax for the next 90min. This island was fairly small. Besides walking around, sitting in the provided chairs or hammocks, there is nothing else to see and do. I tried to get in the water and snorkel, but the sea floor was rocky and difficult to walk on. The water had low visibility and I did not see any fish or corals. We also walked around and took a look at the cabins that one can rent. These cabins were straw huts. I assume that the roofs are (mostly) water tight, but the walls for sure are not. There are many places through which one can look. The floor is sand and the doors did not appear to have any locks. Inside the cabins were 2 beds with mattresses on them. The mattresses have seen better days and I would not want to sleep on them. We did not see any sign of electricity in the cabins. There was a separate building with shared restrooms and an outdoor sink. I believe the restroom building also had shower stalls.
Then we boarded the boat again and were brought to Isla Pelican which is a beautiful and even smaller island with a beautiful sandy beach with clear turquoise water and good swimming and snorkeling. This is why we did the tour! The stop was only 30min, way too short.
After boarding the boat, we were brought back to the first island to eat lunch at around 2pm. Lunch was served in a wooden building with beautiful views on the turquoise waters and beach. Food arrived within 2min of us sitting down. I don't eat seafood and had ordered chicken when I booked the tour. Apparently, this information was not conveyed to them and they brought me and my wife each a whole fish with plantains and coconut rice. After I told them that I don't eat seafood, they took my dish and, within 10min, brought me a chicken dish. It was blackened fried chicken with plantains and coconut rice and I liked it. Various drinks were available for purchase. During lunch, the other couple that took the drive with us in the morning joined us and told us about their cabin. It seemed to be identical to the cabins we had seen earlier.
After lunch we relaxed on the island and walked around but did not take another swim. Then, we were brought back to the unpaved parking lot on the mainland. This time it was only my wife and I on the boat. We waited for our driver, but he did not show up. Then we were approached by someone else in an even bigger truck and he said that he would bring us back to Panama City. We were skeptical and told him that we were waiting for our driver. He explained that our diver would not come due to some unforeseen events and, to prove it, he called our original driver. Our original driver's name showed on the display and I talked to him. After we confirmed that this was legitimate, we got on the pickup truck where there were already several other people inside. The new driver was an aggressive driver while our original driver was a courteous driver. Anyway, we made it back to the hotel safely through Panama City's crazy rush hour traffic.

Date of experience: February 2018
1  Thank Rudy G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis D, Inhaber at San Blas Frontera, responded to this reviewResponded 8 April 2018

Dear Rudy,

thank you so much for taking your time for this very detailed review.
We are very sorry that not everything went smoothly during your day trip and thus are very thankful for your feedback which we will take very serious to improve our service. We hope you nevertheless had a good time and returned with great memories of the San Blas islands!

All the best
Luis

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Reviewed 28 January 2018

While I was searching for boats to get from Panama to Colombia this was the cheapest option I could find. I also integrated an overnight stay on the San Blas Islands including a tour to 4 other small Islands and it was definately worth it! We started the day after to Colombia with mostly local people aboard and the sea wasn't rough at all. I usually get seasick very quickly but I was totally fine and even fall a sleep a couple of times. But this always depends on the weather conditions and waves. The boat ride took us longer than expected I think it was around 7 or 8 hours and the office at the border closes very soon so we had to stop for one night at Almira a really small and cute village close to the border. As I'm travelling I was not in a rush and enjoyed the experience to visit a real and not touristic Kuna village. The Hostel was really basic but the food very delicious! We continued our trip early in the morning and arrived in Capurgana after 1 hour. So if you prefer adventure and the local way of travelling compared to other expensive tourist offerings you should definately go with San Blas Frontera! I enjoyed the whole trip a lot :)

Date of experience: January 2018
Review collected in partnership with this attraction
Thank Elllla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis D, Owner at San Blas Frontera, responded to this reviewResponded 31 January 2018

Dear Ella,

thank you so much for your detailed review. I am happy to hear that you liked the trip with us to Colombia and the stay in Armila. Enjoy the rest of your trip and I hope to welcome you back one day on our island.

All the best
Luis

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Reviewed 31 December 2017 via mobile

If you're thinking of doing the San Blas Islands , then it's good to see you're doing your research. It's a complex, costly business. I'll run you through some of the pros and cons here.

SBF is a good company to choose if you're completely set on doing the Islands. It's about £25 more expensive than a plane, and you get to go to the islands. Woohoo.

You spend one night there, which is more than enough really. I know these Islands look idyllic and amazing but they're pretty basic.

Beautiful and sunny during the day, but at night, when it rains, it seeps through the roof onto your head. At that point you think, "Wow I'm paying a lot of money to be rained on." Oh and there's loads of cockroaches too. So that's not great.

So all in all one night is probably enough! The pros are that during your first day there you get to swim, chill and drink from coconuts.

You can also go snorkling and see a tonne of Starfish. That's cool. Plus it's super relaxed and chilled.

The boat ride to Colombia is where things get pretty damn interesting. It's a real basic boat with an engine strapped to the back of it.

If you've been to Bocas Del Toro, it's the exact same boats used for taxis to ferry 6-8 people a short distance. So it's real uncomfortable.

You spend 6-8 hours on if, bouncing about in the sea with incredibly limited toilet breaks. So bare that in mind.

So just think about the pros and cons before you book.

Date of experience: December 2017
1  Thank jamcnamara04
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis D, Inhaber at San Blas Frontera, responded to this reviewResponded 20 January 2018

Dear John,

thank you for taking your time and the detailed feedback.

We sincerely apologize that you had rain coming in at night. We used to work with other cabins but have recently opened up our own cabins (with an intact roof). Please apologize for the inconvenienes you experienced.

Nevertheless, accommodation in Kuna Yala is in traditional Kuna cabins made from palm leaves and bamboo and as such very basic - but, you get to fall asleep and wake up with an ocean view and the sound of the waves.

We will also take your hint on making more breaks during the boat ride - thank you.

All the best
Luis




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Reviewed 10 November 2017

I chose San Blas Frontera to go from Panama to Colombia at the end of August 2017. I liked that they don't offer the Gringo Trail but take you by motorboat along the coast to either Panama or Colombia - so no seasickness (at least the risk is lower). Also they are WAY CHEAPER than San Blas Adventures. If you want to stay on an Island thats apossible even though I wanna say there are a lot of germans and just in general its quite touristy and not the most beautiful one.
Would recommend!

Date of experience: August 2017
Thank 12chrissi345
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luis D, Inhaber at San Blas Frontera, responded to this reviewResponded 20 January 2018

Dear Chrissi,

thank you for your evaluation. Yes, we are indeed looking to offer a cheaper but nevertheless great way to explore the beautiful Kuna Yala and the border region to Colombia.
We are happy to hear that you had a great time and would recommend us.

Best
Luis and the San Blas Frontera team

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