Exploring Contadora Island

By Denise MacDonald

Having lived in Panama for two and a half years now, I am finally checking places off my ‘to see’ list in this beautiful country I call home. This past week I traveled to Contadora Island (Isla Contadora) with a group of close friends and it was simply amazing! A tidbit of history: Contadora is part of the Pearl Islands Archipielago (Archipielago de las Perlas) where an abundance of pearls used to be found around the islands. The natives would then gather on Contadora to count their pearls and trade them with the Spaniards.

panama usa europe real estate contadora island
panama usa europe real estate contadora island

Hibiscus House Bed and Breakfast

Upon arrival on the island, we were greeted by good friends, Brenda and Kim, who were staying on the island and they took us over to Hibiscus House via golf carts and mules (the four-wheel version).

The island’s roads are smooth and paved (much different than in Coronado) and the main mode of transportation is golf carts. Our hosts/friends at Hibiscus House, Karyn and Allen, helped make it two incredible days that we will always remember.

Our first morning took the group in varying directions: some started with a run and snorkeling; others (like me) went for a long, explorative walk around the island to check out the numerous beautiful beaches, an abandoned hotel and ferry, and some historical sites (such as to where the Shah of Iran was exiled and the home where Julio Iglesias stays when he visits). All of us regrouped back at Hibiscus House where we had a scrumptious breakfast of walnut pancakes and fresh fruit salad before heading back out for more adventures.

We then hired a small boat for ten of us to explore the Pearl Islands. We first went to Isla Chapira for snorkeling. Personally, I had not snorkeled for about 25 years, so this was very exciting for me! We saw so many gorgeous, brightly-coloured species of fish and enjoyed swimming in the turquoise blue waters. Next we visited Isla Mogo Mogo, where we collected shells from this former Survivor island. My favourite stop by far was Isla Boya Arena. This island is only there during low tide, and is just one big pile of fine, white sand. To me, it was heaven on earth.

Needless to say, it was very difficult to top our first full day on Contadora Island!

Day Two began with a morning swim, snorkeling at Playa Executiva, another scrumptious breakfast at Hibiscus House, more snorkeling at Playa Cacique and plenty more sunshine. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Restaurante Romantica and generally relaxed by the beach and soaked up some sun. We did a little more island exploring before finally heading back to the plane for our short trip back to the mainland.

panama usa europe real estate contadora island

The ‘icing on the cake’ to this spectacular weekend was seeing humpback whales frolicking in the ocean as we flew toward Chame — truly magical! It’s already time to start planning the next Inside Panama Real Estate whale-watching boat cruise, so send me a message if you’re interested in coming with us!

If you are planning a trip to Panama, be sure to include a trip to Contadora Island — you will not regret it. Ferries and planes run from Panama City to Contadora daily.

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