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“Excellent experience”

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Sapibenega The Kuna Lodge
Reviewed March 14, 2008

The unfortunate part of our stay was that it only lasted 2 days. The weather was beautiful, the hosts were gracious and fun and the food was quite good. Both my wife and I love seafood which put us right at home. We went snorkeling twice in some excellent places, visited a cemetery and went to the island town of Playon Chico twice. The island is crowded but the people were nice and the kids were fun to talk and joke with.

The living quarters at Sapibenega were clean and reasonably spacious. There was electricity and running water, even hot water. A few times the water was off but not for long. You need realize that you are on an island where electricity come via a generator and solar cells and water via a pipe from the mainland. But where else can you see ghost crabs, many fish, a moray eel, beautiful sunsets, look at the absolutely gorgeous Caribbean and eat fish that a couple of hours ago were in that sea and then relax in a hammock and listen to the breaking waves.

Go and enjoy youself.

  • Stayed: January 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank oldanalyst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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22 - 28 of 57 reviews

Reviewed March 10, 2008

For what you get, it is very overpriced. I also would have expected some fresh food, plenty of fish as well as fruit. The food got lost in the very small plates. And there is no way to buy your own food. The accommodations are very, very basic, but clean. If you're lucky, you open the faucet and have water. For hours and hours... nothing. Some people came back to their rooms to find the water all over the floors, before they didn't realize the faucets had been left open. The people there are not very friendly, nice, but not eager to help or please. Definitely way overpriced. Why aren't these people cleaning up a small area of coast? All that trash swimming in such a lovely place! And the people are just sitting around with absolutely nothing to do!? Very troubling..... Beautiful people, I really hope they get their act together, take care of their environment, and progress in terms of hygiene, while keeping their culture alive!

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Karin246
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 5, 2008

This place tries to bill itself as a nice "robinson crusoe" type of experience. The cabins are clean and the island is tiny. There is intermittent water (they do not tell you when the water comes on) and if you are one of the tourists to take the first shower in the evening you will have hot water (which is great), but not for the ones who wait til after dinner. I saw toilet paper floating under the overwater dining pavillion.

Another problem is that you are paying for luxury level prices ($300 per night) - then they nickel-and-dime you: it start with adding on 2.5% for credit card fee, each drink costs money, renting cruddy snorkel gear costs money, etc.

And as for the food, it is a joke. Breakfast is 1 scrambeled egg, one slice of American cheeze and one hot dog. One morning we did get a slice of papaya as well. Lunch got us 3 grilled shrimp. Tasty but not filling. Especially not at $300 a night.

The market price for a kilo (2.2 pounds) of fish in the town is one dollar. The Kuna also grow coconuts, papaa, etc in their lots on the mainland. Where is the fresh coconut and fruit? Why in the world is Sapibenega so darn stingy with food???

As for the snorkeling, much of the coral is dead. They will take you to an island a few hundred yards away, but you will see much more damaged coral there. The "town" where the Kuna indians live is a 15 minute boat ride and is nice to visit. However there are 3000 inhabitants on that tiny island with poor sewage. So, much algae overgrowth on the coral. Finally, due to the fishing pressure (small plaines fly in to buy fish and shellfish for Panama City) and local consumption there are basically no fish to see when snorkeling on the reefs.

There is trash on the main waterfront area at the landing strip. At $300 per room per night Sapibenega can not even pay a local a few dollars a day to clean that up.

For the "experience" just buy an air panama ticket and stay one night in a hut on the main island for 8 dollars. Money is not usually an issue for me when I travel, but Sapibenega was a ripoff.

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank travlindudeMiami
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 8, 2007

I thoroughly enjoyed my two night stay and wish I had had time for another night there. There has evidently been a new management since the first of the year and a previous negative review may reflect the prior team. The food was simple and excellent. I had langostino (lobster) two meals and a wonderful fish on another. There was a vegetarian in the group and they did their best to accommodate her. They were happy to take you where ever you wanted to go, such as areas to snorkle or to explore other islands, the Kuna village, the falls or the cemetary. The room was comfortable and exotic. There was a wonderful warm breeze and rain at night. They put on a Kuna dance one night.

This is a wonderful place to relax, read or sightsee.

  • Stayed: July 2007, traveled solo
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4  Thank Telwood
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 31, 2007

I have to say I loved this place. We were the only guests so that probably helped. The service was great, the rooms were clean and airy, and the food was terrific. Fresh crab, lobster, fish and fruit daily. I suppose it helps to like seafood. The excursions were great; beautifull beaches, great snorkeling, dolphins, the kuna village, all in all a great place to visit. I can imagine that if you have an aprehension against flying, think first. The planes are small, and the ride bumpy at best. I hope you like seafood, and as always, bring your own booze,as they let us keep our wine and beer in the cooler.

  • Stayed: October 2006, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank fansman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 4, 2006

We were so excited to stay in a rustic place far away from civilization. We stayed for 4 nights. The bungalows were fine. The food was my major complaint. They served IMITATION CRAB several times!! If they are that close to the sea, I was expecting lobster and real crab or at least fish for lunch and dinner. No such luck. We were served chicken breast for one lunch. We had lasagna another (with the imitation crab inside). The breakfasts were just as bad. We had a small piece of bread with cheese and jam 2 of the mornings. The coffee was horrible. They charge extra for real cream (the non-dairy creamer is included). One dinner we had good fried fish. The night before we left they served us small lobster tails, probably because we complained about the food. That was tasty.

The snorkling in that part of the islands is not great. The visibility is not good. I heard that it is a lot better in other parts of San Blas.

I would not go back and I wouldn't recommend it at all.

  • Stayed: February 2006, traveled as a couple
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7  Thank ramonaram1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 17, 2006

having never been to Panama the San Blas islands sounded as though it would be quite a unique placa to visit. After much research I chose the we were thankful for this because you are at their total mercy for excursions and food. The only transportation available is their dug out canoe. However, they did provide you were a number of places to visit. we saw the community, deserted islands for snorkeling and the Kuna's burial ground. The found is good, if you like fish and fruit. That is all you are served, but it's just prepared differentlyevery day. You eat with the other guests who are often quite friendly themselves. The service by the Kuna is exceptional.
No english is spoken at all! This is both a good thing and a bad thing. makes for an interesting trip.
My only complaint about this Lodge is that although you have you own cabin, you are attached to the one next to you. You can hear them drop a pin. Our fellow neighbors brought a radio so this was quite the spoiler. I would recommend only two nights there becasue we did begin to run out of things to do the third day. Over all, it was a very unique and fun experience.

  • Stayed: June 2006
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15  Thank 1teacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sapibenega The Kuna Lodge

Address: Comarca de Kuna Yala, Panama
Location: Panama > Guna Yala Region > San Blas Islands
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #16 of 32 Specialty Lodging in San Blas Islands
Price Range: $81 - $220 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Discover the soul of the Caribbean in a land where time is never ending.Listen to the tales of an ancient sprit inspired by waters so crystalclear,you can see the heart of the sea. More than 365 islands withwhite sands beaches will be waiting for you at Kuna Yala indigenous reserveand we, at SAPIBENEGA THE KUNA LODGE willbe glad to show you the magic of our culture. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sapibenega The Kuna Hotel San Blas Islands

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