Sailing from Colombia to Panama has become one of the great backpacker journeys of the world. Where else can you spend 3 tranquil days sailing through the beautiful white sand islands of San Blas by yacht or catamaran, covered in palm trees and amazing beaches, after 2 days on a boat to Panama from the amazing colonial fortress city of Cartagena. There is only one way to do this, and that is by taking a Boat to Panama from Cartagena via San Blas with our specialist tour service, Mamallena Tours and Travel.
We work with more captains than any other booking service, giving you the best chance of having a great trip. We tell you who is good and who is bad, who is safe and who is not.
Email us and …
We make a point of only working with the boats to Panama that we trust and that are recommended by other travelers, we have no special deals with captains and will give you our honest opinion on what each boat has to offer and what we, and others, think of it.
Making a booking through us will not cost you anything extra and you will have the peace of mind about your safety as we have been dealing with these trips for over 8 years now and were the original agency to start booking these trips. We deal directly with the captain don’t don’t go through third parties.
If you decide to take a boat from Colombia to Panama you’ll enjoy 3 days sailing in the beautiful San Blas islands of Panama. This is an opportunity not to be missed. White sand tropical islands are waiting to be explored. Snorkeling, swimming and just relaxing on the deck of your yacht. If you can, catch your own seafood. Also experience the traditional lifestyle of the Kuna Islanders.
Prices have been steadily increasing and prices currently range from $525 to $550, depending on the boat. The quality of boats can vary, but we feel that most of the boats we deal with are some of the best operating between Colombia and Panama. The price may also seem high, but consider what you’re receiving. The price of one way flights to Panama can range between $300 and $500, and thats for a 1 hour flight! Sailing to San Blas from Cartagena over 5-6 days just seems like a better deal!
The traditional route sailing from Colombia to Panama is from Cartagena via the San Blas islands. Some captains also offer a trip from the Panama/Colombia border. It’s still a 4-5 day trip but you’ll sail through the entire group of islands and you start in the Colombian town of Sapzurro. To Get there you’ll take a boat from Turbo which is reachable by bus from Cartagena. Most prices for this sailing experience are between $500 and $550. The area around Carpurgana is beautiful and known as a Colombian beach resort town. There are hotels and hostels there and transport from Turbo leaves at around 7.30am each morning($25). This trip sailing to Panama is actually rare and not so many boats offer the service.
Few of these yachts travel to a strict schedule so it’s never sure that a boat will be ready to leave when you are. We maintain a list of yachts that are ready to leave for Panama and when we hear from you we’ll send you our current list. It can be an idea to ask for the departures list in advance as more boats are starting to set departure dates in advance. We do take reservations in advance as well and they can sometimes fill fast. The list of sailings will have the name of the boat, the date of departure, the port of departure, cost etc etc.
Please remember, these aren’t our trips. We help both you and the captains arrange the trip but each captain is independent and operates as they wish. That said we do limit the boats that we work with and over the years have weeded out the ones that we feel don’t met up to our standards. We’re not in the business of our clients having a bad time so we actually care about who you go with.
And remember, we want to know how your trip goes. If it’s bad, we’ll know not to use that captain again. If it’s good we want to tell others so they can have the same great time you did. But no matter who you go with we know you’ll love sailing to Panama.
How to make a booking from Colombia to Panama
There are two ways to make a booking on one of the sailing boats between San Blas and Cartagena. You can either use the CONTACT US box below and we’ll send you out a fact sheet, or you can come directly to the hostel and we can tell you all you need to know. Hope we hear from you soon!
Over 10 years ago Hostel Mamallena was the first hostel to start booking the boats to Panama. In that time we’ve gained a lot of experience and you can be assured that we’ll give you first hand, unbiased information about each of these boats.
Contact us for a more detailed list of the Captains we work with and an updated departure schedule.
Click a boat name below to see more photos.
The Gypsy Moth–English skipper Sym and partner Amy do their boat trip to El Porvenir, Panama from Cartagena. They do a great 5 day trip. They used to do the trip on a boat called the Quartermoon. They have some of the best reviews of any boat and are who we use most for our private san blas sailing charters. They take up to 8ppl and we highly recommend them.
Fritz on Jacqueline–The biggest Catamaran to Panama from Colombia, at 56 ft and with many triple and double cabins while only taking 12 people this is a great boat. Fritz can also take motorbikes . Fritz is renowned for fantastic and hearty meals and is a chef by trade so make the most of the enermous portions he serves you. They also provide baked German brown bread ,Tea, Coffee, Water and Natural lemonade.
Nacar catarmaran–Fabian is one of the original captains sailing to Panama from Colombia and has been doing so for 17 years, normally on the Sailing Koala he now has a beautiful catamaran sailing in the San Blas islands He gets great reviews and is a very easy going Colombian Captain and currently has lovely English Luana on board as first mate, rumour says she cooks a great meal. You cant go wrong with a Catamaran to panama from Colombia which is why they fill up so quickly with passengers.
Darien Gapster–Darien Gapster is a fast launch aka speedboat, alternative to the sailboats to Colombia, offering 4 days in San Blas leaving from near Sapzurro, Colombia On the trip you’ll sleep on the islands, spending two nights in Kuna villages and one night camping on a deserted island. The crew has years of experience both in boating and in the San Blas islands of Panama. They work closely with the Kuna giving you a unique opportunity to meet the people as well as experience the pristine beaches and waters on offer.
Wildcard–Kiwi John on the Wildcard has one of the largest boats to Panama at 60ft, with a fully enclosed cabin, double and single berths. He can take up to 16 people. We get good reviews about the Wildcard, John is a good cook and you’re fed well and looked after, we hear he cooks a mean Chicken curry. One of the better sailing trips to Panama around and John loves to see people have fun, within reason of course 🙂
Perla del Caribe–Jonny from Spain can take 9 people on the Dufour 43ft. It is a great boat to Panama via the San Blas islands. We have seen it 1st hand and can vouch for it being up to scratch. Jonny has 10 years of experience crossing the atlantic and was previously doing this trip with his last boat, La Rebeldia.
Delfin Solo–Rengin and Tashin from Turkey/USA have long been doing the trip to San Blas from Cartagena by boat and also do the occasional private San Blas sailing charter They do a good trip and are known for their very relaxed atmosphere and interaction with the guests. The boat has undergone a recent refit and is in top condition from what we hear. They usually take no more than 8 people which for a 45ft boat means it allows a lot of space for everyone.
Corto II–Argentinean Sebastian has finally got himself his own boat between Panama and Colombia and is loving the trips. The Corto is a nice 43 ft boat, the captain and the boat are well recommended,as is the the company of his beautiful little Spaniel dog, He takes 7-8 people and has a very regular schedule. Sebastian was skippering La Perla del Caribe for a long time before the Corto.
Santana–German Gisbert has a large catamaran and can take up to 15 people. One of the bigger boats between Panama and Colombia and being a Catamaran from Cartagena it is a little less rocky in the rough seas this time of year. We have heard pretty good things about the trip. The boat is not luxury, but is perfect for the trip and is a little like a floating hostel with dorm style beds and a couple of cabins. They also have a canoe on board for you to explore the San Blas islands of Panama
Gitana III–Spaniard Marc worked for a long time with his parents on the Lycka yacht sailing from Colombia to Panama and now has his own big boat from Colombia, this boat is huge at 68ft and still in top condition from what we hear. It has huge amounts of deck space and daily showers. They do the usual 3 days in the san blas islands with 11 passengers and 4 crew on the boat to the San Blas Islands.
One World–Lovely big old fashioned sailing boat between Panama and Colombia but in very good order and spacious for the number of guests. They can take 11 people, they have four big double beds so couples or friends are best and three single beds. Young friendly crew, one of the more unique, big boats to Panama and they frequently get good reviews, especially about the rope swing!
Independence–Slovenian Michel and crew do a great trip with good food. It´s big, at 85 foot this is one of the big boats to Panama which helps keep the motion sickness to a minimum, They take up to 25 people…. mixed between 8 shared cabins, bunks, saloon etc. They also have showers available for daily use. We personally meet a lot of the people after the end of their trip and usually only hear good things. They can also take motorbikes to Panama on the upper deck.
Sacanagem– Brazillian Federico has been doing this trip for a long time and is one of the more experienced captains, with a good reputation and great boat. Another of our private sailing charter boat captains in the San Blas Islands which says a lot about his boat and his level of customer service sailing from Colombia to Panama. The boat is 43 foot long and has 4 private cabins taking only 8 passengers.
The African Queen–Rudy has a nice catamaran operating between Panama and Colombia with 4 double cabins and 8 to 10 people onboard. For a boat to San Blas from Cartagena, this is a great and we have only good things to report about Rudy and the boat. He is a fun Captain and makes the trip enjoyable for everyone.
Tango–This sailing boat from Cartagena of Frenchman David is a sloop, Hunter 34′, built in 1983, It contains 2 cabins, 1 toilet, 3 double beds and a single one. The captain is 33 years old and has been sailing to Panama from Colombia for more years than Mamallena has been open(6 years). Fluent in Spanish and English he takes 6 people. You will enjoy clear water and nice beaches, swimming or fishing, snorkeling while being in respect to the culture of the local kuna people of the San Blas islands.
Mintaka–Mintaka is a custom-built 46ft. aluminum sloop, well maintained, very safe, comfortable and clean. Sail San Blas from Cartagena with a professional crew. Not more than 7 passengers. They are very proud in saying that they serve excellent food on the boat to Panama and we have not heard otherwise.
Stahlratte– Stahlratte’s voyage is proposed to be a 3 to 4 year long circumnavigation. But there is no definite time schedule. The vessel is owned by a not for profit organisation and is a former boat of Greenpeace. The captain Ludwig is a real character and very respected by the kunas of San Blas. The biggest boat to San Blas from Colombia, at 100ft, it is HUGE!
Cool Running–English and German speaking skippers George and Sandra are back from the caribbean with years of sailing experience between Panama and Cartagena. Delicious Austrian and International cuisine, fresh fruits, vegetables, a freshly squeezed juice and real coffee to start your day. On their 43ft boat they take up to 8 passengers between the 3 double cabins and saloon area.
Mats de Capo–Swedish Mats has been in San Blas for years and years, he has been doing the Cartagena to Panama trip on and off and normally does private sailing charters in the San Blas Islands. He is well liked amongst the Kunas and his little son Mateao is known to be the highlight of every trip. The boat is not the biggest but the local knowledge, and limited numbers onboard, far outweighs many bigger boats. Da Capo is a 36ft Swedish built boat of very solid construction.
Odyssee II–Humberto the Colombian has been around for years in his 43ft boat. He has received quite a few bad reviews sailing from Colombia to Panama, so do some research before booking. but we still continue to work with him and believe everyone Captain has their bad days. The boat from Cartagena is very safe, but could do with a bit of a refit from what we hear.
BlackDragonFly–The crew is experienced, responsible and super fun. The food is also said to be really good and healthy. The boat is a 51ft Formosa, old boats known for the high quality of build and great comfort with a lot of character and good deck space and they take up to 10ppl to San Blas from Cartagena.
Eucalyptus–Colombian Captain German has been running sailing charters in San Blas for a long time and has a great relationship with the kuna people and knows all the good places to go on your boat trip from Colombia to Panama. The boat is well looked after and a great way to experience the San Blas islands in that little bit of backpacker luxury.
Maluco–Venezuelan couple Joe and Eileen have been sailing between San Blas and Cartagena for 2 years now and we have not received negative feedback about them. The boat looks sleek and well maintained. They accommodate 6 people which at 37ft is a good number.
Gitano Del Mar–Frenchman Jepi has been sailing his catamaran between San Blas and Colombia on and off for years and has a lot of experience having done private sailing charters in the Caribbean for many years. This is a beautiful Lagoon Catamaran with 4 double cabin and 8 more berths, one of the nicer boats and great for a crowd of people looking to have fun. Be quick as he fills fast. Jepi is also a Tattoo Artist and has the equipment onboard if anybody wants to take advantage.
Buon Vento–Italian Eduardo has a beautiful 44ft lagoon catamaran that does one of the better boat trips to Panama, with good reviews about the food. They have 4 cabins for guests and 2 for crew as well as 5 single berths. It is an especially good option for couples, as the chances are you will have your privacy and the boat is real luxury sailing to Panama.
Desdemona–Captain Jeff will take you on an adventure of a lifetime! Desdemona takes 8 passengers on a 37′ Jeanneau Sloop with comfortable sleeping accommodations for 8 life-sized people. Charters include food like your mama makes it, fishing equipment, snorkel and spear fishing gear, sunshine, beaches, sailing, sand and free sunsets. They sail to Portobelo, Panama from Cartagena, Colombia
Cleos Angel Catamaran–Frank and Claudia have one of the nicest boats to Panama and normally reserve for high end sailing charters in the San Blas islands, only negatives I have heard is the Captain does not like people to get drunk on board . 3 Guest cabins with double bed and each cabin has a private bathroom with shower and toilet. Relaxed atmosphere so a great choice for couples.
Amande– French crew of Loig and Franc have a luxury 50ft Atoll sailing in the san Blas Islands with 5 double cabins for guests and one for themselves. Atolls are a great boat for cruising the caribbean, being a monohull yet with the saloon and space of a catamaran.Sounds like a great trip on a fantastic boat..
Hints and tips
-If you’d like a different experience of the San Blas islands then it’s possible to stay in San Blas a few days after departure and spend more time there.
-Take all the money you might need with you from cartagena as there are no cash machines along the way. Remember to take some extra, maybe you will want to buy some Kuna arts and crafts along the way.
-Most Captains expect payment when you arrive at the boat, if you are uneasy about anything this is the time to say so. If you have valid safety concerns then do not stay on the boat. The Captain may not be very happy, but in this situation always put yourselves first.
Remember that this isn’t a game. This is sailing and it can, at times, be dangerous. We’ve heard of one person dying in the last few years, and we don’t want you to be the next. Sailing from Cartagena to Panama can be great fun but there are often stories of storms, damaged boats, boats on reefs, people falling overboard and so on. Go out there for fun but remember that you’re in the hand of the mother nature and the captain. Be safe.
Most importantly go to have fun. Thats what you’re there for. Enjoy the San Blas, you’ll never see anything like it again, but be accepting and keep an open mind with your captain and other passengers. On a sail boat with so many people you can expect that there might be that one person you don’t get along with, but if you make the effort to fit in with them then the experience of sailing between San Blas and Cartagena will be so much more enjoyable for everybody. Yourself included!