I love exploring Panama! There are simply so many things to see, places to visit, people to meet. Of course that’s true for any country in the world but relative to it’s small size I find Panama is such a gem – more appropriately it holds some many gems to be discovered and uncovered.
Living in this exotic land is very different than just visiting here. Let me illustrate that point with our visit to Contadora in the Pearl Islands. I have to admit – if I was on a one week vacation to Panama and I chose to spend it all in the Pearl Islands I would be pissed! Pardon my vocabulary. But, because Contadora is just one of many, many places for us to visit and explore in Panama I absolutely loved it! Let me share our journey and lots of photos so you can understand why -
The Pearl Islands
First a little primer and background on – The Pearl Islands aka – Archipiélago de las Perlas or Islas de las Perlas. This is a grouping of about 100 islands in the Gulf of Panama about 48 km off the Pacific coast of Panama. At one time the Contadora Hotel operated a ferry shuttle out of Panama City for it’s patrons with unoccupied seats available for purchase by the general public. The hotel has since closed and the ferry no longer operates - more on the Hotel Contadora and some cool photos of that ferry as it looks today later in another post simply titled Hotel Contadora. Today the way to get to the Pearls Islands is by Air Panama who makes regular scheduled stops at a few of the Pearl Islands with the main airport - landing strip being located on Contadora Island. You can still get there by boat but it’s not exactly a scheduled ferry. If you’re the adventurous type I share some tips on how to hitch a ride to Contadora by boat a little later.
The flight to Contadora is quick – about 15 minutes in the air and it’s spectacular! Flying in over the Pearl Islands is a feast for the eyes and one can see why the Spanish and future conquistadors found the area so alluring. Here are a few shots to give you an idea…
Our Flight to the Pearl Islands
The Contadora Island Inn
We chose to stay a lovely little Bed & Breakfast called the Contadora Island Inn. Although the Inn is not directly on a beach it’s a just a short walk to nearby beaches. We were fortunate as very few people were visiting Contadora at the time so we had one of the two guest houses entirely to ourselves. The house we stayed in was delightful. It had recently been remodeled and contained five bedrooms each had their own ensuite bathroom. The inn is located in a peaceful residential area, with lovely front and back decks that showcase the native tropical woods of the island including luscious palm trees, indigenous flowers and of course are home to an abundance of birds. Contadora is small but the Inn offers a free shuttle service via mini van from the airport. They also rent Go Carts for venturing around the island – exploring it’s many beautiful beaches. One fabulous beach is right behind the Contadora Island Inn. Any easy stroll with snorkel gear in hand.
We arrived on the first flight out of Albrook regional airport and checked into the Inn but we had skipped breakfast to make the flight so we were famished. The Inn does serve breakfast to guests, it is a Bed and Breakfast, but it does not have a restaurant. Our hosts recommended Restaurante Villa Romantica which was a five minute Go Cart ride away. What a treat! Breakfast there was wonderful and the Villa Romantica became our go to spot for breakfast. You can see some pictures and get more info about Villa Romantica under the Panama Hotels tab.
I have lots more to share about Contadora and the Pearl Islands plus lots of cool photos from our trip so stay tuned! We checked out the old Contadora Resort site – spooky man! Went to some of the uninhabited islands where they filmed the different Survivor series and more about Contadora Island itself.
Pearl Islands and Contadora post update…
OK – I’ve been working on this post for days! I wanted it to be a monster – all-inclusive post that showed you our whole trip to the Pearl Islands in on one page – one big post but alas technically difficulties and or limitations just won’t let me do that! So, bare with me – I’m going to have to create an entry page, watch for ‘Pearl Islands Trip’ or something like that. And then I’ll break our trip up into posts like Villa Romantica so you can get a good picture of what we did and also see all of the pictures of Contadora and the Pearl Islands that I want to share.
…to be continued!