Things to Do in Panama Province

Perla Islands, Panama Province: Address, Perla Islands Reviews: 4.5/5

Perla Islands
Surrounding the Isthmus of Panama, this set of islands is comprised of several major islands plus a number of small islets, reefs and 83 beaches.
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27 reviews
Very good

Jonathan W
Sydney, Australia433 contributions
Stunning Islands - good for two or three nights
Jan 2019
We recently spent 2 nights on Contadora Island.

The beaches are speculating - white sands, crystal clear water and a great temperature. We went kayaking, snorkelling, fishing and we of course also swam. All activities were great.

We used the Ferry Sea Las Perlas to get out to the islands. We booked the night before using their web-site (they do have English) and paid about US$90 per person. The ferry leaves from the Flamenco Marine (about a $5 Uber from Casco Viejo) at 7.30am. Check in starts an hour earlier. You will be sent an email with all this info if you book online. The ferry was fully booked so I recommend that you book the day before you travel.
The trip took 90 minutes and was very smooth and relaxing. Wear shorts because you are likely to get your feet wet when you disembark at Contadora. This is because there is no change to a small boat that takes you into shore. It is all pretty cool....a lot of fun.

The island has a small store where you can buy essentials - alcohol!! Plus other essentials like food and toiletries. But it is understandably expensive. I recommend that you bring some of this over with you from the city.

There were a number of restaurant options available and prices seemed reasonable ......they did not appear to be charging crazy ‘island prices’.

The best way to get around the island is on golf carts which you can hire for US$50 a day. They also use these for their taxis at US$5 a ride. But distances are short and you can easily walk. There is also a good chance that your hotel will include a complementary pick up from the ferry drop off.

It is seriously hot out here around midday....bring sunblock and a hat.

On the downside there are a lot of old resorts (which must have been spectacular in their heyday) in ruin. These resorts are scattered around the island. The island was apparently a major tourist attraction in the seventies but has suffered a major downturn since then.

But the beaches are still incredibly is well worth a visit.
Written January 8, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

maria k
Amsterdam, The Netherlands67 contributions
Island Contadore needs urgently strong management
Nov 2017 • Couples
A - in principle beautiful island- will loose its beauty quickly if not managed more properly. A quiet hide-away after a few days Panama City. The boat trip towards the Island was OK, back the trip was tough and took slightly over two hours due to the rough sea.
We visited several beaches to snorkel and found the best snorkeling places the ejecutive beach and long beach. People are friendly and easy going. The Island needs however really to be cleaned up! There are a lot of abandoned houses making it not nice nad the beaches are really dirty with garbage. What a shame!
Written November 30, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Shrewsbury, UK1,702 contributions
Peace After the City
Mar 2017 • Couples
After crossing the Caribbean sea and transiting the Panama Canal we were anxious to get cruising again away from cities, noise and chaos. As we sailed towards las Perlas the calmness defended and we began to once more relax.
The first anchorage we came to was untenable due to the smell of bird guano which was just overwhelming so we cruised around. The second had a large fire blazing so we sailed on eventually coming to an idyllic anchorage between Isla Chapera and Mogo mogo. Here we found only a couple of local fishing boats that paid no mind to us.
Most extraordinary experience - after dark we found thousands of fish attracted to the small solar light on our transom. then amazingly as the fish swam they drew iridescent green lines through the water. We put our hands in and swirled the water which gave off so much luminance it lit up our faces. The most amazing phosphorescence we have ever seen on our 35,000 mile ocean travels.
In the morning we woke peacefully but by 10am the bay had begun to fill with noisy day boats, local tours and loud music so it was time to up anchor and depart.
Written August 3, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Teresa R
New York City, NY225 contributions
Beautiful Getaway Close to Panama City
Mar 2017 • Friends
I would recommend the Pearl Islands for anyone looking for a day trip or weekend getaway from Panama City, specifically Isla Contadora, which had gorgeous, uncrowded beaches that were great for swimming, snorkeling, and lounging.
There are two main ferry companies that leave from Panama City: Sea Las Perlas and Ferry Las Perlas. We went with Sea Las Perlas that leaves from Balboa marina because they run 7 days a week (and b/c Ferry Las Perlas leaves from Trump Tower). I would recommend booking at least one day in advance as you have to get there very early and it would stink to get up and be turned away for space reasons (you can pay when you arrive with cash or credit card or do it ahead of time by phone or online). Also, bring your passport, as they checked ours before we got on the boat.
The trip is supposed to be 90 minutes to Isla Contadora but was closer to 2 hours. Nonetheless that still gives you a good amount of time for a day trip and plenty of time if you stay overnight. The ferry ride over was super smooth, and we saw a whale on the way!
I wrote individual reviews on Isla Contadora's Playas Ejecutiva and Larga, but those were my two favorite on Contadora Island, with calm, clear water and good snorkeling. Although Playa Cacique and Galeon are also very nice and have food/restrooms. There aren't a ton of food options though, so I would recommend bringing some snacks. Isla Contadora is small, so you can walk to a beach, but the golf carts for rent for $50 are a good way to see more of it.
The beaches around Panama City aren't great, so if you want those classic tropical views, the Pearl Islands are a good compromise between Isla Taboga, an hour away, and San Blas, 2+ hours.
Written April 3, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

San Diego77 contributions
Good option for weekend getaway
Feb 2015 • Couples
These islands are a 2 hour ferry ride from Panama City. We stayed on the Isla Contadora. Limited places to eat and accommodations but very peaceful and quite. We felt like we had the whole island to ourself. The beaches have nice sand and the water is a greenish turquoise. Some decent snorkeling right off the beach. Spent two nights and felt like that was a good amount of time. Rent a golf cart and expire the island. We meet a fisherman who took us on his little fishing boat to some of the other islands which was fun. Mogo Mogo island has an episode of Survivor filmed there.
Written January 22, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Italia17 contributions
Viveros Island sandy beaches
Jan 2016 • Friends
Playa Blanca: a wonderful white sand beach with clear warm water and a nice Beach Club!
Friendly staff and good food!
Written January 13, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Jonell C
Fullerton, CA92 contributions
Special help!
Dec 2015
These amazing people were able to push some rules and get me food when I needed it, quickly, efficiently, and good! Excellent cheveche and good soup.
Written January 4, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

New York City, NY3,014 contributions
Lackluster destination, although close and convenient from Panama City
Feb 2015 • Friends
If you are looking for a quick weekend trip from Panama City, this island is a decent option. The ferry to Contadora is quick and affordable. However, it does not dock at the pier; be prepared to disembark onto small fishing boats and then wade your way onto the beach. The embarkation area has no sun cover, so be prepared. Do not stay here for more than a few days. There is a lack of good dining, and a complete lack of amenities on the island’s beaches. Be prepared to fry yourself on the beach, due to total lack of sun cover. Renting a golf cart here is a rip off, but make sure you rent one and pre-book it as the island doesn’t have enough carts to meet the demand during peak season. The ambiance is far from paradisaical. Do charter a small boat to tour the far flung islets of the archipelago or to go fishing, otherwise, you will have nothing else to do.
Written July 18, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

David Nicolls
New York, NY83 contributions
Great day trip from Panama City
Jan 2015 • Couples
Excellent service to take a trip out to Contadora in the Las Perlas island chain off the coast of Panama. The ship leaves from the Balboa Yacht Club at 7:30 am and return from Isla Contadora at 3:30 pm. The round trip cost is $90 and well worth the price as the ship gets you there in 90 minutes and is very very clean, well maintained, with bathrooms on board; and the crew speaks English and is very professional. Once you land on Isla Contadora take road to the left and within 5 minutes you come upon the most magnificent beach called Playa Lorgo, with clear calm water and plenty of shade. If you are feeling adventurous head down the beach and over the hill to your left and you come upon Las Suecas the only nude beach in Panama which is quite secluded. When you get hungry head band in the direction of the port and go up the hill to the left where you can have an inexpensive meal for about $10.
Written January 15, 2015
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Sergio N
Porto Seguro, BA33 contributions
Best beaches on Pacific side
Sep 2014 • Solo
This is best fast trip to get excellence beaches near Panama City. One hour and half sailing with ferry you get to Contadora Island, the mainly island in Archipelago of Las Perlas. Heed the opportunity during august thru october, the whale watching season.
Written November 4, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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