The Pearl Islands of Panama or as the locals call it Las Perlas are located on the opposite site of San Blas in Panama. They face the Pacific Ocean and are much larger than the San Blas Islands. Nonetheless, the Islands were always reserved for the rich and the famous and mostly inhabited. Until recent years a direct ferry from Panama City to the Pearl Islands could take you their for a affordable price. Las Perlas is now opening its unexplored nature for tourist all around the world.
Isla del Rey and Contadora Island
The largest island in the Pearl Islands is Isla del Rey, the Island of the King. This Island is a giant between the island of Panama and the biggest after Coiba Island. Yet, its size did not lure many tourists to it so most of the nature on the island is in pristine condition. The tropical paradise served for the FOX castaway series “survivor” since it was remote and large enough to survive on. Most of the tourist facilities are located on Contadora Island. This island is closer to Panama City and was one of the luxuries getaways of the rich and famous. Yet, in recent years affordable hotels and hostels settled on the island and the tourist industry was getting a grip on them. Nowadays Contadora Island serves as one of the main tourist attraction of the south coast of Panama. The island offers various tours and trips to other Pearl islands and whale watching. Read more about those island on the official Pearl Islands website.
Where to sleep in the Pearl Islands?
Las Perlas as the locals call the Pearl Islands was a places only reserved for the elites and high society in the past decennia. But times are changing and the islands are opening up to the larger crowd with many budget and less luxurious places to stay popping up everywhere. Still want to enjoy a luxurious vacation than the Perla Real Inn**** is the place to stay for the night! Another famous place in the same price range is Contadora Island Inn****. Both places are perfect for your honeymoon or as a romantic getaway! Looking for a more budget place (not really budget but the cheapest around) to stay than the must go places are B&B Gerald, Hibiscus House B&B or Casa del Sol Bed & Breakfast.
Humpback whale watching
One of the most amazing tours in Panama is whale watching in Las Perlas. The Pacific Ocean around the Pearl Islands is the only place on earth were North and South humpback whales come to mate and feed on the abundance fish an krill reserves. Many tours go whale watching throughout the year since the migration of South and North humpbacks is in different seasons. Additionally, it is not unlikely that you encounter various dolphin species on your boats tours in Las Perlas.
Sailing Las Perlas
Just like sailing in San Blas the best way to explore every Pearl Island is by sailing. While you hop from island to island you can spot dolphins, humpback whales and snorkel among the huge schools of fish that can’t be found in the Caribbean Sea. The weather is always nice but the sea can be a little bit rougher than in San Blas. Nevertheless, the Pearl islands are a must visit for every tropical island enthusiast. If you want to visit them more laid-back you can always book a cruise.
Flying to the Pearl Islands
With Air Panama you can fly to the Pearl Islands from Panama City Airport to Isla Contadora. There are frequent flights every day but you have to book in advance in order to receive a seat because the flights are fully booked every day.
From San Blas to the Pearl Islands
Traveling from San Blas to the Pearl Islands is easy and can be done within half a day. From San Blas take a water taxi to Carti, this will take you up to 1-2 two hours depending on where you stayed. From there you can rent a 4×4 jeep taxi to Panama City, ask the to drop you off in the Pearl Island Ferry terminal in the harbor. The ferries to the Pearl Islands are scheduled throughout the day so you probably don’t have to wait longer than one hour before the ferry leaves. The total journey from San Blas to the Pearl Islands take you up to six hours (including waiting time) and costs around 125-150 US$.