The Pearl Islands of Panama is an archipelago which the locals call the islands Islas de las Perlas, a name that dates back from Spanish colonial times. The Spanish Conquistadors discovered the islands in 1503 and gave the Islands its name due to the great amounts of pearls found on them. The biggest island by far is Isla Del Ray but Contadora Island is the most notable for tourist, it offers great resorts, hotels and an Airport. In 1979, the Shah of Iran briefly took exile on Isla Contadora. Domestic airlines Air Panama and Aero Perlas run frequent flights between Panama City and Contadora, Isla San José and Isla del Rey. Another noteworthy island is Isla Saboga, you can find traditional Island culture here.
The Pearl Islands are most famous for their spectacular white sand beaches, scuba diving, marine life (whale watching) and delicate ecosystems. Panamanian law to preserve the life on the islands protects the islands flora and fauna. Over 70% of the Pearl Islands is owned and protected by the Panamanian Government (Note; no part of Isla de Puercos is owned by the government)
The Pearl Islands are located in the North Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of Panama. A trip to the Islands is not that far from mainland Panama.
VACATION DESTINATION PEARL ISLANDS
At first the Pearl Islands were reserved only for the rich and the famous and getting to the islands was expensive, just like the hotels and resort. But now the tourism industry is booming and the first ferries from mainland Panama have made transportation easy and relatively cheap. These ferries can take you to the Islands for a small price. Nowadays there are more hotels, hostels, resorts and restaurants to choose from on multiple islands. Some of which are expensive and others are affordable. The popularity of the Isla de Las Perlas was boosted by the CBS Broadcasting television show Survivor.
The Pearl Islands are located on the coordinates 8.3333° N, 79.1167° W not far from the equator. Therefore, the climate on the Pearl Islands is different than in the US. There are only two seasons, a dry and wet season. This doesn’t always apply since some years receive rain all year around and sometimes the islands experience a dry year. Some of the benefits being located so close to the equator are the stable temperature all year around and no hurricanes.
As we mentioned above the Pearl Islands of Panama only experience two types of seasons. There is a wet season which experiences much more rain and clouds than the dry season that has higher temperatures and clear skies.
The dry season
The dry seasons is probably the best time to visit the Pearl Islands since the weather is nice and you probably won’t experience much rain. The dry season starts in December and end in April. The average temperature in these months is around 31°C degrees Celsius (87 degrees F) and rainfall is around 3mm averages each month. Expect around 5/6 hours of sunshine every day. You will be able to enjoy the islands in 11.7 hours of daylight
The wet season
The wet season kicks in around June to November with its peak in October. This is probably the best season to spot humpback whales. The average month will receive around 20-25 mm of rain, which is more than the dry season but still not that much. The average temperature in these months is almost the same as in the dry season around 30°C degrees Celsius (86 degrees F) with at least 5 hours of sunshine. You can enjoy the islands in at least 12 hours of daylight. The only real difference with the dry season is that there are more clouds around this time of the year.
One of the great differences of the Pacific Ocean is that the water temperature is slightly lower than for example on the same longitudes in the Caribbean Sea. The average water temperature is between 24°-29°C (75-84 degrees F) and can be even colder when Nordic winds blow the sea currents along the Bay of Panama.
Getting to the Pearl Islands is easy and fast from Panama City. Since the Islands are located just off shore the Panamanian mainland an estimated travel time takes only one to two hours in total. There are three ways to get to any of the Pearl Islands from Panama City.
The fastest way to get to the Pearl Islands is by plane. Flying to the Pearl Islands will get you from Panama City Airport to Contadora Island in only 15 minutes. The most frequent air service to the Islands is Air Panama and Aero Perlas, with frequent flights daily. This is not the cheapest way to get to the islands, adding up check in time etc. it might not even be the fastest way but probably the most comforting. An Average price of US$100-200 dollars is normal
Taking the ferry from Panama City to the Pearl Islands gets you there in around one to two hours. These ferries travel daily and visit multiple islands in their schedules. A common round trip on the ferry starts in Panama City then goes to Saboga Island, Contadora Island back to Saboga and Panama City. Average rates for round trips are US$80-100, one-way will cost you on average US$50-60.
Another way to get to the Pearl Islands is by Sailing tour. Some charters are offering short trips of a few days visiting different Pearl Islands by sailboat. You will sleep on the boat but spend the day on the beach or sailing. It’s a fun and adventurers way to explorer the Golf of Panama and the Islas de Las Perlas. Average prices are fluctuate since it depends on the ship, how many people, how many days and the captains. Average prices for a four-day trip will cost you around US$400-500. Oceantrips.com offers amazing sailing charters in Las Perlas (Panama) on owner-operated sailing- and motor boats. Go to http://oceantrips.com/sailing-areas/las-perlas/ and book a sailing charter in Las Perlas
HOME PRICES ON THE PEARL ISLANDS
Depending on which Pearl Island, home prices vary between $500,000 US to $8,000,000 US
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