Contadora Island (Isla Contadora, as it is known in Spanish) lies at the northern end of the Pearl Island Archipelago. “The Pearls” are Panama’s Pacific version of the popular Bocas del Toro and San Blas islands of the Caribbean side. However, where the Caribbean islands are often drenched during rainy season, during our rainy season on Contadora it usually only rains for a few hours during the late afternoon or in the evening. The rest of the day is sunny and ideal for sun lovers.
As a year round vacation spot, The Pearls have been home to three seasons of the popular CBS television series “Survivor”, with Contadora serving as the show’s base of operations.
Contadora island is situated approximately 30 miles off the country's Pacific coast, making it a mere 15 minute flight from Panama City. The Island has numerous private homes, and acts as a refuge for many of Panama's most wealthy families. Main roads on the island are paved and some back roads are dirt. Most streets are lighted and can be safely explored day or night. There is, however, not even a single traffic light! A typical Contadora “traffic jam” consists of only two vehicles! While there are cars and pick-ups on the island, transportation is normally limited to golf carts, four wheelers, scooters and bicycles – some of which can be rented by the hour or day.
There are eleven beaches on the island. All have white sand and protected coves. The water is turquoise and teeming with tropical fish. Panama's only nude beach is found on Contadora Island, on it's southern side. All of Panama’s beaches are public by law. For a truly private beach experience, hire a local boat captain to drop you off on one of the nearby unihabited islands for the day.
The island boasts several restaurants, including both European and local Panamanian specialties. There are three small grocery stores, a medical clinic that is open every day, a small police force and one gas pump! There are no banks or ATMs on the island, so bring all the cash you think you will need.
The waters surrounding Contadora Island are typically warm (but cool in February), turquoise colored, and ideal for swimming or snorkeling. Scuba diving, snorkeling, sport fishing, and boat tours are available on the island.
The map below of Isla Contadora shows the road system that exists on the island, as well as the island airport and numerous beaches that run along it's coastline; most of the beaches are accessible by the public. The beaches are most often separated by rocky shoreline.