Rich in history and natural beauty, the Pearl Islands are an archipelago of about 100 islands in the Gulf of Panama off the country’s Pacific coast. Featuring virgin forest and pristine beaches, the Pearl Islands were made famous when they were used as a location setting for the reality television series, Survivor, in 2003.
During the 16th century, Spanish conquistadors were drawn to the archipelago in search of its bounty of pearls, giving it the name, Pearl Islands. One of the islands, Contadora, was used as a central hub for counting, recording and shipping the pearls to Spain. Today, Cantadora is one of the archipelago’s most developed islands, known for its beautiful resorts.
Isla del Rey is the largest of the islands, which is made up of numerous towns and several pre-Columbian archaeological sites. Some of the other islands include San Jose, Galera, Bolano, Marin and Cocos. Gorgeous scenery, adventure and wildlife are some of the archipelago’s main attractions. Crystal clear waters and sandy beaches ranging from white to gold and black all offer swimming, snorkeling, diving, boating, fishing and whale-watching, while the lush forests present hiking trails to see waterfalls and wildlife like monkeys, toucans and macaws.
For dining and nightlife, tourists will find a variety of options throughout the Pearl Islands from international restaurants to traditional eateries serving authentic dishes like Panamanian ceviche (a type of raw fish served with lime juice and spices).
Chartered boat operations and ferries are the main transport around the archipelago, while walking, biking and taxis get tourists around on the islands.