Food and lodging in San Blas at minimum cost
Most islands have a small beach bar that serves as a bar and restaurant. There you can buy drinks and meals (usually fish) at a much higher price than on the coast (double).
Many of the islands offer a full board service where you pay for accommodation, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This service usually costs around $ 40, but the price depends largely on the island chosen and the type of accommodation.
In Perro Chico that was the price per person for sleeping in a cabin and eating 3 times a day. How to lower the price of your trip for free to Kuna Yala? You can bring your food and drink on your own, as well as bring your own tent. The prices per night are as follows (based on Perro Chico and per person):
- Full board in a cabin: $ 40
- Night in your own tent: $ 8
- Night in pre-assembled stores: $ 10
- A meal in the restaurant: $ 10
- Superfood for 5 days: $ 15
The day before we recommend to go supermarket shopping and buy canned food (tuna, beans, etc.), envelopes of Chinese noodles (those that are boiling water in a glass and are ready), bread mold, cookies, bricks of milk, tang for give flavor to water and, most importantly, many liters of water (minimum 1 liter per day per person).
If you arrive at San Blas with all that stuff in your backpacks, remember about the 4-gallon bottles of water. No one will find it strange, it's what most Panamanians do. On the islands, you can eat coconut (and drink its juice) for free and make bonfires to heat the food.
Luxury would have been to bring a fishing line with a hook. Some locals do that to eat cheap on the island and I do not think it would be very difficult to survive this way, watching the locals fish with this technique (first they caught a small fish from the many on the shore and then used it as bait to catch a big one).
With only 15 dollars following these steps, you should be able to survive the entire 5 days on the island, in fact. If you want to go for more time, it may not be possible to carry the full amount of food and especially a large amount of freshwater you will need. What you have to do in that case is to ask the visitors to leave to sell you the water that has been left over.
Normally, they will not want to sell it to you: they will give it to you ("one peso less than loading to Panama"). The same thing happens with food or ice, you can ask to be sold and so you can spend more days in paradise without spending a lot of money.
How much does it cost to travel to San Blas for free?
This is what it cost each of us to spend 4 nights and 5 full days (from the sun to sun) in San Blas for free:
- Transportation from Panama to Puerto Cartí: $3
- Entrance to the Kuna Yala area of San Blas: $20
- Port fee: $2
- Round trip boat to the island: $30
- 4 nights in tent: 4x $ 8 = $32
- Food and water for 5 days: $15
- Total: $102
- 5 days in San Blas, $20 a day.
If you go more days you will get fewer dollars per day and if you stay only one night you will find it more expensive per day. You can choose a closer island to lower costs, but I do not recommend it (in another article I will explain why Perro Chico is the best island). You can also make 3 or 4-hour trips between the islands for about $ 8 (5 for transportation and another 3 that charge on each island for visiting their beach).
As a final note, remember that this part of the Kuna Yala archipelago receives many visitors from Panama City on weekends, so the idyllic image of the beaches could be tarnished in case you go on a Saturday or Sunday. Have fun and enjoy!