Playa Cacique Contadora Panama

A Quick Guide To Conquering Contadora

Contadora Island is located on the Pacific side of Panama in the Archipelago of the Pearl Islands. It’s the home of beautiful beaches, a few seasons of Survivor, and one of my favorite getaways in Panama. 

During my parents recent trip to Panama, Contadora was at the top of our list to go to. My mom and I went last year for the first time and I have been a few other times since then so I feel like I have a pretty good lay of the land. Here is a quick guide on how to have the ultimate trip to Contadora:

Getting There

Ferry Las PerlasFerry: There are two ferry services that make trips to Contadora Island: Ferry Las Perlas and Sea Las Perlas. I have used both ferry services and I found Ferry Las Perlas to be more comfortable. Ferry Las Perlas leaves from Trump Ocean Ocean club everyday at 8:00 am and costs $95 round trip. Sea Las Perlas leaves from Balboa Yacht Club on the Amador Causeway everyday at 7:30 am and costs $90 round trip. Both services take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to arrive to Contadora.

Air Panama: Panama’s local airline company, Air Panama, also offers quick flights to Contadora Island. The flights leave from the Alrbook Airport and then lands at Contadora approximately 20 minutes later. Round trip costs are $156.88 at the time of this posting.

Places To Stay:  

Gerald’s Bed and Breakfast: My parents and I stayed at Gerald’s Bed and Breakfast during our trip and we found the rooms to be comfortable. We paid $113 a night for a room that fit three people and it included breakfast for all of us.

Casa del Sol: I rented an entire house with a group of friends from Casa del Sol during a visit to Contadora last year. They have a wide variety of housing options from bed and breakfasts, apartments, and entire houses. They also include a golf cart with most of the rentals and that makes it much easier to get around the island.

Super Centro Pacifico Hostal: This is the most affordable place I have been able to find on Contadora with rooms costing $75 a night that can fit up to four people. The rooms are probably as basic as it gets but who cares! You’re on an island, go enjoy the beach. For reservations contact Ezequiel Vega at 66125535.

The Point: My mom and I stayed at The Point during our first trip to Contadora. It’s a nice little hotel with a large swimming pool and is next to a great beach.

Perla Real: Perla Real is a beautiful hotel with modern accommodations and a jacuzzi.

Visit THIS LINK for a complete list of hotels and other accommodation options on Isla Contadora.

Getting Around:

The island is not very big so it is walkable but having a golf cart makes it a lot easier to get around. You can rent these from the Contadora Welcome Center for around $80 a day or they also offer a taxi service where they come and pick you up for $7 – call 67421802 and someone will arrive within a few minutes.

Map of Contadora

Best Beaches

Playa Cacique: As known as “Hawaii Beach” this paradise offers a long stretch of smooth white sand and gentle waves.

Playa Cacique

Playa Galeon: My mom’s favorite beach because the waves are minimal, the sand is smooth, and the water is clear. Only downside is there can be a lot of boats around at times.

Playa Galeon

Playa Larga: This beach has potential but the surrounding abandoned hotels and abandoned ferry on the beach make it a little depressing. Sand is a little rocky but water is clear with minimal waves. Better to relax at the previous two mentioned beaches.

Playa Larga

I was disappointed to find my once favorite beach Playa Ejecutiva to be covered in trash, dead fish, and debris when I visited this time. It could have been the time of year and ocean currents that made it this way but less than a year ago the beach was immaculate.

Places To Eat

Casa TortugaCasa Tortuga: A unique dining experience where Itialian chef Piero cooks for you in his own home. The menu is different everyday and is at a set price of around $35 and includes appetizer, main course, and desert. He also makes some pretty amazing pizzas that you can order to go during the day or have instead of the main menu for dinner. He also includes complimentary shuttle service to and from your hotel as part of the dinner. For reservations contact Piero at 67152223.

Gerald’s: We ate here several times since the restaurant was located where our bed and breakfast was. They serve pizzas, german dishes, and a few other international dishes. The food was really good but something about it wasn’t spectacular like it was during my first trip to Contadora.

Rincon Hot Stone:  We ate here for lunch one day and they have large portions of grilled seafood, chicken, and steak.

Things To Do

Island Tour / Snorkeling / Fishing: I highly recommend checking out some of the surrounding islands while you are there. The cost of the tour is $35 an hour (you could probably negotiate this) and you can set it up with one of the guys in the little boats at Playa Galeon. They will take you to the surrounding islands and you can choose to snorkel, fish, or just relax on the beach. We visited Isla Chapera and Isla Mogo Mogo (Survivor was filmed here) and they were some of the most beautiful beaches I have been on. Another plus was that we had the islands completely to ourselves!

Isla Chapera and Mogo Mogo

Isla Chapera and Mogo Mogo – Nothing like having a private island to yourself!

Whale Watching Tour: The Contadora Welcome Center arranges two whale watching tours each day with prices starting at $50 a person.

Relax! Contadora is not a destination full of bars and entertainment options. It’s a place to go off the grid, read a book, and recharge. Try to enjoy a few days of having nothing to do.

Isla Chapera

Isla Chapera

There are 6 comments

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  1. Joey Bonura

    It depends, San Blas is much more rugged and undeveloped while Contadora has restaurants and hotels on it. I think if I were to only do one I would choose Contadora but be sure to do the tour to the nearby islands to see the best beaches

  2. Joey Bonura

    Hi Kristin, I haven't done much snorkeling in Panama but I saw a few people snorkeling at the surrounding islands in Contadora. I've also seen a few snorkeling and diving tours around Portobelo.

  3. Kristin McNeil

    Great post! This was very informative! My husband, myself and our 13 yr old son will be vacationing in Panama for the first time this winter. Where would you recommend for snorkeling – Contadora, Portobello or San Blas? We can stay with friends in Panama City but I want to get away for a couple nights. I was thinking a night in El Valle, a night on Contadora and maybe a night by Coronado (for surfing and parasailing). What do you think?

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