The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Pearl Islands, Panama

Pearl Islands | © lapping / Pixabay
Pearl Islands | © lapping / Pixabay
Photo of Brittney Schering
31 January 2018

In the North Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Panama lies a mostly uninhabited collection of islands, known to locals as Islas de las Perlas, or the Pearl Islands of Panama. More than 250 tiny islands make up this archipelago, and they have been known as such since Spanish colonial days, because of the many pearls that were found on them.

Diving off Contadora Island | © Ryan McMinds / Flickr

The largest island, Isla Del Ray, is not nearly as popular to tourists as is Contadora Island. Contadora offers phenomenal resorts, hotels, and an airport, making for easy, breezy travel. Isla Saboga is another favorite, giving a glimpse into traditional island culture.

The Pearl Islands are most famous for their white-sand beaches, the amazing opportunities for scuba diving and whale watching they offer visitors, and their awe-inspiring, delicate ecosystems. Flora and fauna are protected on the islands by Panamanian law to preserve this extraordinary abundance of life.

Whale watching | © Free-Photos/Pixabay

It used to be that the Pearl Islands were exclusive to the rich and famous who could afford such luxury. Due to the booming tourism industry, as well as the introduction of ferries from mainland Panama, the islands now welcome a greater range of visitors at prices that are rather lower than they used to be. The Pearl Islands became even more popular among tourists after the exposure they received on the television show, Survivor, on CBS.

The Pearl Islands now boast an array of hotels, hostels, resorts, restaurants, and other luxury amenities that are expected by tourists. Some places are still quite expensive, while others are now offering more affordable accommodations. Snorkeling, whale watching, scuba diving, beach visits, and island tours are among the most popular activities to enjoy when visiting this little piece of paradise.

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