Comarca de Guna Yala in detail


Tourist Information

Flights in and out of the comarca are limited, so book as far in advance as possible. You should also reserve your hotels in advance, especially since all-in package deals are the norm here. There's no cash machine, so visit an ATM before reaching the islands. The closest one is at Chepo on the Interamericana, about 20km southwest of the El Llano turnoff.

From May through November temperatures are generally lower in the archipelago. When there’s no breeze and the mercury rises, humidity sets in and life on the San Blas islands can cease to be paradisiacal. During January and February the trade winds arrive.

In the comarca it helps to have a good command of Spanish as few Guna outside the tourist centers speak English. In fact, many older Guna do not speak much Spanish. In more remote areas your guide or boat operator may have to do the talking for you. A few words of Guna will win you friends wherever you go.

The Guna are very particular about what uagmala (foreigners) do on their islands. As a result, tourists must register and pay a visitation fee (usually around US$3) on most islands. You’re expected to pay regardless of whether you stay for a week or only a half-hour. On smaller, privately owned islands, you must seek out the owner, obtain permission to stay and pay a fee of around US$7 per person to camp.

Visitors are expected to pay to take photographs of the Guna people (around US$1 per subject or photo). If you want to take someone’s photo, ask their permission first. You may not be required to pay for a photograph taken of an artisan from whom you buy crafts, but it depends on the person.

You must carry your passport to enter the region.