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“Coco Blanco--A place you only dream about!”

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Cabanas Coco Blanco
Long Island
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Coco Blanco--A place you only dream about!”
Reviewed August 13, 2011

My boyfriend and I stayed on Coco Blanco for 2 days and 1 night, traveling with his mom and sister. We got to San Blas driving from Panama City, it was about a 2 hour drive or so. Be warned that you do go over a mountain for about an hour, so there are a lot of ups and downs and sharp turns. You definitley need an SUV, and if someone is especially prone to bad car sickness you might want to fly instead. Also, a working knowledge of Spanish is necessary as no one is really fluent in english.

Once we got to San Blas, we met our guide, Roberto, and we took off for Coco Blanco in a small motor boat. The trip to the island took about 15-20 minutes by boat. The island is small, and half of the island is owned by Roberto's family while the other half is owned by other Kuna families. They told us that if we go to the other side of the island the Kuna there might charge us to take pictures and one of them kind of gave us a mean look when we got close, so we didn't really want to trespass on their property. Once we got there we were warmly welcomed by Roberto's wife and showed us our cabanas/palapas. Our palapa had one larger bed and a smaller twin bed, another two palapas had three beds, and I believe there was one palapa in the back that could accomodate 8 people, but I never looked in it and it was behind the others. This place is the bare essentials, and it was wonderful. There is running water, though with limited water pressure, a toilet that flushes to a septic tank, and the electricity is turned on around sundown, though each room only had one bulb. The beds were ok, they had a simple sheet and pillows. Nothing like shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste is provided so bring your own. They do provide towels though. At night you got to hear the waves, though it was very hot.

The food was delicious, you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our dinner the first night was fresh lobster, rice, potatoes, and carrots, with fruit for dessert. My boyfriend is a picky eater so they made him fried fish. The other couple staying on the island with us had two young children, and they made them hot dogs. Breakfast the next morning was ok, I asked for eggs and only got one egg which is a little sparse, and others got sausage that was ok but they didn't give enough to feed 4 people, as well as so-so arrapas. Our lunch was an octopus stew with rice, it was also good. They charge you for all drinks, like a can of soda is around 1.50, or a beer or glass of wine is 2.50, so I strongly recommend bringing your own bottle of wine or so, or some liquor, because it is wonderful to sit on the beach, after dinner in the dark, relaxing over wine. They also charge you $1 for a coconut. Also, bring snacks because swimming can make you hungry and there are no snacks between meals, which can sometimes be a long stretch, just make sure you don't leave them in your room opened you will get ants. The palapas also had some small lizards, (tiny geckos), they want nothing to do with people and run if you get close, but if someone is deathly deathly afraid of stuff like this it might not be pleasant.

The highlight for us was snorkeling! All of the islands were filled with nothing but white sand, clear, warm waters and coral reef. Roberto took us out over the corals and showed us baby lobsters and starfish. They have snorkeling gear for you to use, and the water is shallow so if you dont want to really snorkel you can just walk out to the coral. I would recommend water shoes if you dont really want to swim, and if you have kids, there are crabs on the beach that pinch. Our second day, we went to dog island (la isla de perro). This is a must see! They have a 1930's shipwreck that you can snorkel too (its not in deep water, close to the beach), and Roberto shows you all the different coral and fish in electric colors. He said you can see dolphins early enough in the day. Afterwards, we went to starfish island, which is really more of a sandbar but has a lot of starfish.

On our way back to the mainland, we stopped at one of the main Kuna islands and got to walk through the streets of the village to the Musuem of Kuna Culture. A historian gave us a history of their people that was very interesting. Roberto told us that some Kuna might charge for pictures, so you might just want to be discreet and not take pictures of people, but the kids didn't care and they were very cute to interact with.
Other reviews said the weather was bad, but in general its better to go during the rainy season which is roughly April to December (and we had only sunshine), because during the dry season the winds are stronger which makes the waves higher, so the ride out to the island might be more unpleasant.

Overall, Roberto and his family were very welcoming and hospitable and loved to talk about their people, history, and island. Roberto really went out of his way to take you to the different islands and show you different stuff, and he's very attentive like if you need something from the cooler when you're on a different island he will run to the boat and get it for you. My only regret is that I should have reapplied my sunscreen, and that we should have stayed at least 2 nights.

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank Becky A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Hamburg
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed March 18, 2009

Mislead from the information in Internet and the positive recommendations on this site I choose this place as a more expensive than others but higher quality place for 3 nights together with my wife. The Porvenir airport remains closed for the next couple of months so we took the flight to Cartiz with a 2 hr delay. You arrive on a dirty shore and an open boat brings you to Coco Blanco in 45 minutes. Despite a plastic protection you get really wet if the strong wind and waves are against your direction. Despite 3 Cabanas there are 4 individual and one larger with 2 separate entrances but without privacy. There were additional half a dozen of tents that made the place so crowded (about 20 tourists) that we had to eat in two shifts... In the current time there is permanent strong wind and in the night you might get cold as the wind blows through the cabana. I doubt bed linen is changed after every guest. Between 4 and 4:30 a.m. the power generator starts and the motor is situated in the center of the group of cabanas, so nobody is farther than 10 meters away from that motor. Well we always got our coffee at 4.30 as we could not sleep any longer... I expected - in my naive thinking - lots of seafood but what we got was Pasta (Spaghetti) twice in 3 days together with package sauce. One dry small piece of fish was all in the 3 nights that cost 600 $ for 2 persons. You only can laugh at this level as it is far out of each price/quality ratio. I understand that everything must be brought on this island but it is greed - I fear - what brings these results. For every coconut (there are plenty on the island) you have to pay 1 $... which is not much but gives a bad taste to me if they ask for that. The second half of the island is shared by 3 Kuna-families which live totally separated from the family running the lodge business. They are very poor but their warmhearted children where the most positive impression on the island. Hard to understand that we were the only ones in 3 days that really communicated with them and the other tourists stayed most of the time in their ghetto... We talk about an island of 100 m length! My summary: if you still want to make this experience, not longer than 1 or max. 2 nights and better elsewhere. And do it never for honeymoon, only as a real test before you get married! I am happy that my wife didn´t divorce from me after that experience.. ;-)

  • Stayed March 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
17 Thank manyplacesseen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed January 18, 2009

Just returned from 4 days at Coco Blanco. Don't think i can put into words how great this place is. Really is Postcard perfect. Don't get me wrong the Cabanas are "rustic" but that just adds to the feel of the place - on the plus side you do have a flushing toilet, shower and electricity from about 6 p.m. To be honest you do not need much else. This place and the islands are quite possibly the nicest place we have seen so far on our travels. Daily trips to other Islands and the fresh fish every day ( so fresh, often still alive an hour before the pot!!) and make sure you visit the Kuna Yala Museum, really fascinating and we found a great insight into their way of life.
Staff are lovely and very helpful - Make sure you ask Catalina about her family history, very interesting.....

Enjoy.....

  • Liked — Paradise - not many places in the world where you can stay with a "tribe"
  • Disliked — n/a
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Jay013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Cabanas Coco Blanco

Property: Cabanas Coco Blanco
Address: | Ground Floro, Panama
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #4 of 27 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:2.5 star — Cabanas Coco Blanco 2.5*
Number of rooms: 6
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Also Known As:
Cabanas Coco Blanco Hotel San Blas Islands

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