6 Best Hotels in Guna Yala (San Blas), Eastern Panama

Akwadup Lodge

$$$$ | Achutupo, Panama

This lodge's wooden bungalows are perched over the sea and just a short walk from a small beach. These perks make it one of the more comfortable spots to experience Guna Yala's culture and natural beauty. It was built in 2007 by the same family that owns the older Dolphin Island Lodge. The bungalows have high, thatched roofs, tile bathrooms, two queen beds, porches with hammocks, and great views of the sea and mainland. Meals are served in a large, screened dining hall that has a small bar in one corner and Wi-Fi. Included in the rate are three daily meals, and two tours per day like excursions to uninhabited islands, tours of Aligandi or Achutupo, snorkeling at Akwanasar Reef, or a jungle hike to a waterfall on the mainland.

Pros

  • Comfortable bungalows
  • Relaxing property
  • Friendly staff

Cons

  • Island has trash on it
  • No-see-ums can be a problem
  • Unimpressive food
Achutupo, Panama
507-832--5144
hotel Details
7 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast

Quick Facts

Cabañas Kuanidup

$$$ | Río Sidra, Panama

With a small beach and hammocks strung between palm trees, this remote island is an idyllic spot. Accommodations are among Guna Yala's most rustic: tiny huts with sand floors, shared bathrooms, and kerosene lamps for light. It's a good spot for snorkelers because its encircled by a relatively healthy coral reef, however the owner doesn't buy equipment as often as he should, so you may want to bring your own. The huts are quite close to one another, and everyone shares a couple basic bathrooms and showers in a cement building, so there isn't much privacy. The payoff is the amazing scenery, the nearby reef, and trips to Isla Perro and Guna communities. They charge $25 to pick up and drop off guests in Carti or El Porvenir.

Pros

  • Gorgeous island
  • Great snorkeling

Cons

  • Tiny, rustic rooms
  • Shared bathrooms can get crowded
  • No English spoken
Río Sidra, Panama
507-6635--6737
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, No credit cards

Quick Facts

Cabañas Narasgandup

$$ | Río Sidra, Panama

Though quite rustic, this lodge has a great setting on a sparsely inhabited island shaded by coconut palms with a lovely beach. Its original four cabañas are traditional Guna huts with foam mattresses on hewn-wood beds and sand floors, though one has a wooden floor. Guests share two bathrooms in a separate building with showers, flush toilets, and septic tanks. The two pricier bunglaows built over the water have private bathrooms. The lodge is on a wide white-sand beach with good swimming and coral reefs nearby. The owner takes guests to Achutupo (Isla Perro) and nearby communities and offers optional trips to a waterfall, or a Guna burial ground at an additional charge.

Pros

  • Great beach
  • Friendly service
  • Day trips

Cons

  • Very rustic
  • No English spoken
Río Sidra, Panama
507-6686--7437
hotel Details
6 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, No credit cards

Quick Facts

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Dolphin Island Lodge

$$$$ | Achutupo, Panama

One of the oldest hotels in Guna Yala, this lodge occupies most of the small Uaguinega Island, which is across a channel from Achutupo. This means you get more exposure to Guna life than at most lodges, but the water isn't clean enough for swimming and snorkeling. The thatched bungalows here are rustic, but comfortable, with private bathrooms and back porches that view the sea and mainland. They are spread along the shore of a grassy island which has hammocks strung between palm trees and a dining hall on one end. The lodge's guides take guests on daily excursions to islands with beaches and coral reefs for snorkeling (equipment is available to rent) and a tour of Achutupo. Guests who stay several days have the option of a river trip, or a hike into the forest to a waterfall.

Pros

  • Spacious bungalows
  • Friendly staff
  • Two daily tours included in rate

Cons

  • No beach on island
  • Charge for drinking water
  • No hot water
Achutupo, Panama
866-390--3451-in U.S.
hotel Details
6 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, Credit cards accepted

Quick Facts

Sapibenega

$$$$ | Playón Chico, Panama

With spacious rooms and an attractive restaurant perched over the sea, this is one of the better lodges in Guna Yala, but it is also the most expensive. Rustic but comfortable guest rooms are in wooden duplexes divided by cane walls—a problem if you have noisy neighbors—with decent matresses and large balconies overlooking the sea. The hotel's kitchen is good, and the thatched restaurant, also perched over the water, has a wonderful view of the mainland. The attractive lounge next door has Direct TV. There's decent snorkeling around the private island, and excursions are offered to healthier reefs, uninhabited Isla Iguana, the village of Playón Chico, and bird-watching on a nearby river.

Pros

  • Big rooms
  • Good food
  • Friendly staff

Cons

  • Rooms lack privacy
  • No beach on island
  • Little English spoken
  • Overpriced
Playón Chico, Panama
507-215--1406
hotel Details
6 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, Credit cards accepted

Quick Facts

Yandup Island Lodge

$$$$ | Playón Chico, Panama Fodor's Choice

Yandup's over-the-water bungalows are the nicest accommodations in Guna Yala, each with 360° views, wraparound balconies, hardwood floors, private baths, orthopedic mattresses, and plenty of hammocks to sway away the day. The octagonal bungalows are beautifully perched over the sea and have high thatch roofs, solar lighting, and views of the mainland across the bay. Two smaller bungalows have ocean views and cost slightly less. The open-air restaurant, also over the water, serves the best food in Guna Yala, but prepare yourself for nothing but seafood dishes. The island is lovely and grassy with a small beach on one end and hammocks strung between the nearby coconut palms. Yandup's guides speak a little English and are attentive. They offer an array of excursions and good snorkeling equipment. The lodge also sponsors projects for the community to which guests can donate.

Pros

  • Lovely bungalows and island
  • Friendly staff
  • Good food

Cons

  • Sand fleas can be a problem at night
  • Use of snorkeling gear costs extra
  • Additional $10 per person tax
Playón Chico, Panama
507-203--7762
hotel Details
10 rooms
Rate Includes: Free Breakfast, Credit cards accepted

Quick Facts