Welcome to the Pearl Archipelago, a hidden paradise consisting of around 200 islands, islets, and
coral reefs, some of which remain unnamed. Just two hours by boat or a mere twenty minutes by
plane from Panama City, these islands are a haven for sea enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in a world
of fine-sand beaches meeting crystal-clear waters, and dive into the mesmerizing coral reefs
teeming with an array of colorful fish, including Angel fish, parrotfish, butterflyfish, and more.
Keep your eyes peeled for the graceful presence of humpback whales and other whale species,
migrating from colder waters to these warm seas from late July to October for breeding.
Witnessing these majestic creatures up close is a unique and awe-inspiring experience not to be
missed, and it's why the archipelago has been declared a sea corridor, with efforts made by
Panamanian authorities and the Smithsonian Institution to protect these marine wonders.
The name "Pearl Archipelago" traces back to its historical association with pearls. These precious
gems have been famous since the time of Balboa, who discovered the wealth and existence of
these islands. However, it was Gaspar de Morales and the infamous Francisco Pizarro who claimed
the islands, displacing the original communities and repopulating the region with African slaves
used for oyster collection.
Among the islands, Contadora Island stands out, named after the accounting office during the
Crown period, where pearls were prepared before being sent to Spain. This enchanting island
offers twelve dreamlike beaches, perfect for snorkeling, diving, or simply relaxing by the shoreline.
Playa Cacique, with its breathtaking sunsets and fewer crowds, is a must-visit, while Playa
Ejecutiva, located in a serene cove to the north, remains ideal even during low tide. Contadora
serves as an excellent starting point for island exploration, from Mogo Mogo and Chapera, two
uninhabited gems with pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs teeming
with marine life. For those looking to purchase famous pearls, Casaya and Casayeta islands are
home to local communities who make a living from collecting and selling these exquisite treasures.
San José Island is the second largest island in the archipelago, after Isla del Rey. It offers exclusivity
and privacy in a magnificent natural environment. It reaches 44 square kilometers and has more
than fifty beaches of turquoise waters, reefs, tropical forests, waterfalls, and rivers.