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“Rustic but Wonderful Experience”
Review of Franklin's

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Franklin's
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed December 16, 2013

Staying at Franklins.was very relaxing and the food was quite good. They only charge $1.50 for beers. I would suggest bringing a flash light as they turn off the electricity at 11:00. You will also need cash. They don't take credit cards. Bring extra snacks and you should be good. The kuna require that only 4 wheel drives are brought in so you may have to hire transportation from a tour agency.
Also of note; the other side of the island is owned by a brother and it's fun for partying on the beach. We had a great time then went back to the quiet side to sleep. I hope to go back again soon!

Stayed: December 2013, traveled with friends
2  Thank SGBinda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed December 15, 2013

The San Blas Islands are one of the most beautiful places in Panama. There is no going wrong with sitting on the beautiful beaches with the soft white sand and the brilliant blue Caribbean always within your view. The Kuna are touch and go as far as being friendly, I met some very friendly and some not so much. Part of the charm is how rustic everything is. Make sure you bring water and snacks! Also, bug spray is a must. Part of the deal is that you get food. I believe the Kuna do their best, but there was one meal that wasn't quite cooked. The chef was not happy when my friend asked for them to cook it better. I didn't eat much, but I did end up getting food poisoning from shrimp. I suggest making sure you have a lot of your own snacks in case you don't like a meal or it isn't well cooked. Otherwise-BEAUTIFUL, and a wonderful experience for a weekend getaway.

  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with friends
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2  Thank Chelsi P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 10, 2013

Definitely recommend this place. We saw other islands further out that had a bit more tranquility, but Franklin's was by no means crowded or rowdy. We stayed on the Franklin side of Isla Tubasenika, but partied on the Senidup side at night, (literally 5 meters walk). Both sides have beer, water, soda, and candy for sale; but you may want to bring your own hard booze. If you have beach chairs, bring them. Lots of shade from the palm trees and hammocks abound. You can really only swim on one end of the island due to rocks, but everything is a 3 minute walk. Only complaint, and one I knew about in advance; not a good spot for vegetarians or even pescatarians (suprisingly). The fish was anemic (heads with a bit of body - not fileted), and the set eggs in the am, chicken for lunch, and weak fish for dinner is mundane and not going to fill you up. You can order lobster and crab in the am for lunch or dinner if they have them. Definitely do the Isla Perros/star fish pool tour. All of the Kuna on the island were gruff but friendly. Definitely didn't feel like we were unwanted there, but more of a go along - get along attitude. Just be respectful of their rules and customs, especially around coconuts... As far as the complaints about cleanliness..It's an island in the Caribbean with limited electricity and sand floors in the cane huts...what else would you expect? Same goes for toilets and showers - expect a level slightly above camping, otherwise stay elsewhere.

Room Tip: If you want to walk out your door and fall into the sea, ask for cabins 1,2,3. Also, you want to be...
  • Stayed: December 2013, traveled with friends
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4  Thank James M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 14, 2013

I stayed on the Senidup side of this tiny island. The accomm is simple but clean and in keeping with the environment. The toilets and showers are better than expected. The staff of are polite and helpful. The beach is almost immaculately clean. The swimming and snorkeling is good with some coral. This is one of the cheapest places to stay in the island but, based on conversations with others, it is one of the best. My only recommendation would be to take some extra food with you.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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2  Thank DamoNo137
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2013 via mobile

The island truely is paradise, turquoise seas, sun, white sand. There is a lovely breeze at one we of the beach which is good when sunbathing.

The rooms are basic - huts with sand floor and beds. The sheets weren't very clean - they almost looked like people had already slept on them. The toilets and showers (only at certain times in the evening) are very basic but do provide loo roll, although I'd bring your own because it often runs out.

Food was of larger portions than I expected because everyone had told me that the portions were tiny. If you're not fussy you'll bed fine, it was very similar each meal: eggs for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch and fish and potato for dinner. You can buy other snacks and water though I'd recommend bringing your own water.

They do a trip to a different island where there is a shipwreck you can snorkel on (although the equipment isn't great and leaked a lot) which was cool!

The ride there from Panama City is very squished in the jeep on a very windy and up and down road. I also agree with the review below, the island is full of Israelis and I think if you're on your own you would have a hard time mixing as they stick together a lot.

Overall its basic but who can complain when you're in such a beautiful setting - I loved it and wished I could have stayed longer!

  • Stayed: April 2013
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1  Thank Loretta11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 25, 2013

Don´t trust the lonely planet about the bad road to the pickup strip, it is outdated. The road is paved now and it took us more or less 2,5 hours to get there. We were supposed to be picked up at 05.00 am, but the driver showed up at 05.45 hr.
We had to pay 10 dollar each for entering the so called ´national park´ and also paid 2 dollar per person for ´parking costs´. You get actually a Casino chip after paying. Don´t lose it, you have to hand it in after returning. There is also a passport check somewhere in between. The Kuna Yala border patrol is seem to be more interested in the stamps in your passport instead of your person details.
Once we arrived it was unclear what time our boat was leaving to Franklin Island. The local people arranging the stuff speak Spanish and their local language. They said ´don´t worry, we will get to you once we go´ This waiting game took us 3 hours. After finally getting into the boat another group was arriving for Franklins Island and could get in without waiting. Frustrating.
After 20 minutes the guy stopped the boat and told us we were to heavy loaded. He had to go to another Island for getting extra gas, but not after we had to pay the guy 20 dollars for the diesel.
Once arrived at the Island we got a cabin (dorm) just for the two of us, although we did not ask for a private room. Funny to see that people who booked a ´private room ´couldn´t get one. Don´t expect any luxury in your room, it is pretty basic. We found out that carrying gallons of water was not necessary as they offer you it for the same price as supermarkets in Panama City. Same for snacks, beer, cigarettes etc.
If you want to relax in a hammock, you have to rent them for 3 dollars. (This is for the whole stay, but they took my one down the next morning). A trip to dog Island for snorkeling is 13 dollars, renting snorkeling material 2 dollars (poor condition).
Electricity (the few lamps on the Island) is shut down at 10.00 pm sharp every day. You can walk to the other side of the Island where they play some music and where you can play cards under a roof (I cannot call it a bar).
I don´t know why, but during our stay 90% of the guests came from one country, Israel. The local people told us that particularly this Island is popular for Israeli people. They just stayed at a group and paid no attention to people outside this group. Expectable behavior, but it is still weird to see them sit together for dinner and the ´rest´ sitting at a separate table. Other guests came from the UK, Canada, Australia, USA and the Netherlands.
For the last night we ordered lobster. It was 15 dollars per person, but totally worth it.
The boat back to pickup place was supposed to be leaving just after breakfast, but some people woke up late and they were supposed to get in this boat as well. “Without paying, not leaving”(that is what Franklin the owner told us in his best English). So we arrived three hours late, totally wet after a rough trip.
So in short:
- For the most basic things you have to pay extra money
- A bit more diversity in nationalities of the guests would have been nice
- All meals consist of chicken/meat, rice and salad/beans. Surprisingly we never had fish.
- If you have to go to the toilet for the ‘big’ stuff, do it early in the morning after they have just cleaned the toilets. During the day they get dirty.
- If you want to go for more luxury stuff, consider visiting another Island.
- Go with the flow and relax. Even ordering to cans of coke can take up to 5 minutes. The staff is not really quick.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled with friends
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8  Thank Henk v
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 21, 2013

San Blas Islands are spectacular.
You can book most places the night before you intend in going through the Internet or hostels in Panama.
The arrange a 4 x 4 to take you to a pier and then a boat to the particular island you want. The islands are gorgeous.
I stayed at Franklins for 4 nights.
The staff aren't friendly at all. Franklin seems to have become money hungry. There were hammocks my first 2 nights free of charge. They said they took them down due to rain. The next day they sold hammock rental to new guests for $4 per day.
I wanted to go snorkeling at dog island. He wanted more money for our group than what the guests the previous day paid. He then also wanted extra money to use their snorkels which were in poor condition. In the end we went to the other side of the island (a different company) and went with them. Staff on the other side are so much nicer but I the set up of the huts is better at Franklins.
On one occasion I told the staff the toilet had been blocked and full of pooh. The staff just nodded and left it that way.
You could pay extra for lobster so I ordered one. It never came and they said they were too tired to go fishing.
The meals are very basic and they serve a lot of meat and chicken (surprising given you're on an island surrounded by fish).
My hut was near the kitchen. I was woken every morning at 5am by the radio and the staff being very loud. When I spoke to Franklin about it after my first night he said he understood. However the noise continued.
Most guests weren't happy about the poor service.
I loved the island but all the islands I saw were gorgeous. I spoke to come people who had toilets that flushed by a handle (not a bucket of water like ours) and had a tap to wash your hands. There are no hand washing facilities at Franklins.
On arrival no one came to meet us, I was told there was no dorm even though I had booked one. No one explained when you could shower (there's a 3 hour window in the evening) nor when the electricity would go out or when meals would be served.
The Kuni women never smiled and it seemed they did not like us being there.
On the final morning we were told that a boat would pick us up at 7.30 to go back to the mainland. I double checked the time with them as I saw the boat leaving at 8.30 each morning. Franklin said it was 7.30.
So 7.30 we were all packed and ready to leave only to be told it was 8.30.
These small things do but a damper on your stay at San Blas. It was still great but I think there would be much better places to stay where you would feel welcome.
Tips: take your own snorkeling gear and insect repellant. You'll need some snacks as meals are small (particularly breakfast). Do a day trip to dog island to see the ship wreck. The scenery is stunning.
Make sure you double check prices befor you leave. Franklins was more expensive than Hostel Mamallena stated and some couples were left short of cash.
This is a small island with huts and a beach. That's it so bring a couple of good books.
Book tours on other side of the island. Other side also has a dodgy bar at night time and much better staff.

  • Stayed: March 2013
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3  Thank binvinnie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Franklin's

Address: 1 Franklin St. | Franklin Island, Panama
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 29 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands

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