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“Wonderful experience” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Dolphin Lodge San Blas

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Dolphin Lodge San Blas
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2.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Achutupu Community, Panama   |  
Hotel amenities
Copenhagen
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Wonderful experience”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 24, 2012

What an amazing place, very hospitable and caring... And a great way to get a little insight into the way of life of the Kuna people.. And the food, fresh and delicious. Dont expect over the top luxury, but do expect having a unique experience...

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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25 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    11
    6
    3
    4
    1
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (4)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Seattle, Washington
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 28, 2012

If you're expecting the Ritz, you shouldn't go to these islands. That's not what they're about. But they are paradise, and the folks at Dolphin Lodge are warm-hearted, eager to please, and provide a lovely experience in a very rustic environment. We found the food better than in Panama City, and more than plentiful (except for breakfast, which was still fine). The cook really did well with very little, considering most everything has to be brought in by motorized canoe. The service was very friendly and accommodating, and the Kuna people are much better at speaking a second language than I am (Spanish)! They offered several excursions that were included with the room price, including snorkeling off a tiny island into the coral reefs, a visit to a populous Kuna community, another visit to their cemetery, and a boat ride into the rainforest. Yes, the showers are cold, the toilet needed a boost of water once, and the electricity went off once (bring flashlights). And you do need your insect repellant. If you're not too pampered for these small inconveniences, and you like being AWAY, then this is a lovely place with really warm hosts. Much nicer and more genuine than our hotel staff in Panama City. And sleeping with the ocean underneath your bungalow is divine.

Room Tip: not applicable - all 5 bungalows in a row on top of the ocean
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2012

This hotel is one in its kind. Given the circumstances in San Blas this hotel is just great. Everybody was very nice (true Kuna hospitality). It is back to basic and nature. Thank you Eric and Vanessa for a wonderful time. If you travel to the San Blas I would certainly book this hotel, it is very quiet and you can truly relax here.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
san francisco
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2012

Dolphin Lodge has a lovely view and a pretty location HOWEVER, there is no hot water for showers, no air conditioning, mosquitos attack even with netting;

though their pr says it is all inclusive they charge you for every beverage. They ran out of food-even bread but did not make up for it so if you like eating the same thing for lunch and dinner for 3 days, having a room that is not maintained, being nickeled and dimed all the time, this is the place for you

Room Tip: search for a better maintained location. if you stay here plan on 2 nights maximum, bring tons of mo...
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Senior Contributor
48 reviews 48 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2011

San Blas is a fascinating place to visit and Dolphin Lodge is well situated. Close to the airport, across from the Kuna village and near to rivers and beaches. You don't need to take away the rustic (or the cockroaches) but small things like fresh towels, sweeping out the room, and much much better food would take this from an experience to memorable. The staff and the locals are all extremely friendly but be aware that English is extremely limited to non-existent so bone up on your Spanish. Two nights is enough.

  • Stayed December 2010
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Staten Island, New York
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 21, 2010

I can't say enough about my stay here. It was exactly what I wanted. Beautiful surroundings, an attentive staff, quiet, and a bit of adventure.
This was my first time going off the beaten path. I normally vacation in major cities or all inclusive resorts, so this was a totally new experience,
I landed at the airport (actually a hut on what appeared to be a soccer field) and was greeted by the host/guide Nicky (who speaks, Kuna, Spanish, & English). Of we went in a little motorboat to the lodge, where a breakfast of eggs awaited. Then it was off to my perfectly quaint hut, to settle in and rest in my waterfront hammock. I went snorkeling for the first time and was amazed at the underwater beauty. I visited the Kuna Village, and went fishing too. The Kuna performed for us too. The meals were delicious and fresh, though, since you only get fed 3 times a day, you might want to bring some snacks (though, I was okay without them).
There were only 4 other guests on the first day of my visit, and 2 on the second. Everyone was given individual attention by the incredibly warm staff.

Bring bug spray.
The water pressure is TERRIBLE, but I felt clean after a shower. There is no hot water, but you don't need it. The water is safe to drink.
I definitely plan on going back.

  • Stayed September 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
West Vancouver, Canada
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2010

As our travel agent described before our visit, "You go to Dolphin Lodge for the Kuna Yala culture, not for the beaches." Likewise, you make this trip not for a luxury destination resort, but to see a different culture, a society that is evolving despite attempts to retain the past. A thought-provoking experience.
Some notes:
1. The Dolphin Lodge people have read some of the criticisms in tripadvisor! The rules for when and how much to pay for picture-taking were described upon arrival. No payment required for scenery, including scenery with people in the background. $1 per shot of individuals, unless you buy a mola, in which case you get a photo with the person who sells the mola.
2. Flights in and out can be confusing. We arrived on Air Panama, landing at the Achutupo airstrip. We left on Aeroperlas, departing from the Mamitupo airstrip. Each airstrip is operated by a different community (Dolphin is associated with the Achutupo community), and it appears each has struck a deal with a different airline. If you look at Google maps, you will see the two airstrips almost side-by-side in apparent competition.
3. The Mamitupo airport is infested by biting gnats ("noseeums" as we call them in Canada). We were warned in advance and we certainly needed our repellent! The islands are generally bite-free, except on beaches where sand fleas will find you quickly.
4. The cabins are basic, but comfortable and clean. The shower worked. We had to ask for a second towel - maybe the two of us were expected to share one. Food was OK.
5. Friendly staff. No overt pressure to tip, but there was a tip box in the dining room with a message clearly stating that tipping is voluntary.
6. "Eco-lodge"? Clearly not sustainable without tourist dollar infusions. Water is reportedly piped from the mainland. The sewage? (Didn't have the nerve to ask, but the buried pipe leads into the sea.)
7. The islands are low-lying and even today the waves are lapping at the edge of some buildings. How long will they last with global warming? Maybe an incentive to visit soon.

  • Stayed March 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Dolphin Lodge San Blas

Address: Achutupu Community, Panama
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 17 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Dolphin Lodge San Blas 2*
Number of rooms: 9
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A simple but comfortable lodge, with nine cabins, in the San Blas islands of Panama. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Dolphin Island Hotel San Blas Islands

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