While most islands are tiny, Panama’s second largest island, Isla del Rey, is also in Pearl Islands. The remote island Galera encompasses exquisite beauty inviting passerby with coconut palms lining the silver sands. However, the waters are choppy with shallow reefs making it difficult to navigate around. Isla San Jose is a large privately-owned island with 50 private beaches of white sand and turquoise waters. The Hacienda del Mar resort in Isla San Jose is renowned for its hospitality and offers numerous activities including snorkeling, sport fishing, diving, and hiking in this scenic island.
Like the hard shell of an oyster that conceals the virgin beauty of a pearl, the vast expanse of the ocean hides the extravagance and vividness of Pearl Islands. The untouched beauty that is privy to Pearl Islands unravels through its sporadic land mass in the form of lush green vegetation, shallow reefs, and diverse aquatic life. In spite of the tourist flow, many of the islands continue to be uninhabited. In better populated islands like the Contadora, houses are few and far between. Wild creepers and orchids grow equally comfortably on rooftops as they do on tall trees.
Pearl Islands get its name from the rare pearls that are harvested from the archipelago. Among the precious jewels mined from the Pearl Islands is the 400 years old Pelegrina pearl measuring 31 carat. This bead has passed many hands including the Queen of Spain, a French Emperor, and an English Queen before Elizabeth Taylor laid her hands on it. Pearls are still a fascination among visitors, but today Pearl Islands are sought after for their silent beaches and verdant surroundings.
Some of the islands can only be reached by sea. But Contadora is well connected to Panama City with two popular flights: Air Panama and Aero Perlas. A round trip can be booked from Panama City for as low as $80. The aerial view is a sight to behold. As the flight takes off, you will see ships anchoring at the Panama Canal. The view soon shifts to the islands that appear as tiny specs on a blue wall.
The other common mode of transport is by sea. Because Contadora is just 50 km south of Panama Canal, tourists can take a ferry or sail in the many yachts that are heading to the South Pacific.