Discover the wonderful Pearl Islands archipelago, internationally recognized for its diversity of marine wildlife, and considered one of the best sportfishing spots in the world. It is also known as a site for humpback whale pairing and turtle nesting.
The archipelago has more than 200 islands and islets, many of them inhabited. Every island offers a specialty of its own; some have better reefs to snorkel, others white sandy beaches. With the Pacific’s extreme tidal changes, many of these beaches come out exclusively at low tide.
The main recommended islands to visit are:
Contadora Island (main island with some development), Chapera, Saboga, Bartolome, and Mogo Mogo among others. Contadora which is the main island offers many facilities like an airport, hotels, restaurants, and even houses to rent and prolong your stay if interested.
The Archipelago has a most interesting history, its name comes from the abundance of pearls that existed in the area during the period of Spanish rule. The famous “Pilgrim” pearl was found in this area, owned by the Spanish King Philip II and also owned by actress Elizabeth Taylor. Contadora was said to be used by the Spanish conquistadors as a stop for doing an inventory of booty prior to returning to Spain, hence the name (Contadora which means to count or bookkeeper in Spanish). It was also the exile site of the Shah of Iran in 1979. In modern times, the archipelago has become a popular location for several international editions of the reality “Survivor”.
In addition to visiting the islands, there are excellent fishing spots both within the archipelago as well as on the way towards it at the open sea, for example, the famous Twenty Fathom trench. You’ll be targeting Dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi), Tuna, Tuna Bonita, Spanish mackerel, snapper, and Jack Crevalle, among others. At the islands feel free to choose between various activities like whale watching (season from June to November), island hopping, snorkeling, or just cruising.
The 35 nautical mile cruise from Panama City the first islands of the Pearl Islands takes from an hour and a half to two hours and a half, depending on the vessel.