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Isla Contadora

Friday, January 25, 2008

We decided to take a vacation and head off to the Pearl Islands.  Grabbed the kids, packed a bag and headed into the city on Sunday.  We hadn't made any reservations at hotels figuring we'd be ok on a Sunday night.  The first 2 hotels we stopped at were booked (Plaza Paitilla and Decapolis) so we made a quick pit stop at the Bristol.  They had one room.  What the heck -  we're on vacation.  On Monday, we caught the 10am AirPanama 15 minute flight to Isla Contadora.  It's definitely a sleepy island.  We had made tentative reservations to stay at Hotel Contadora but when you step off the runway, the Hotel Punta Galeon is right there so we decided to try this hotel instead.  Apparently owned by Peruvians and rarely full, we stepped into our little hotel room - a double and a twin.  Neat, tidy and every room has an amazing view of the ocean.  We immediately rented a golf cart to explore the island.  Ended up on the other side at the Hotel Romantica restaurant.  We ordered our food and headed down to the beach below.

The sand on Isla Contadora is the softest white sand beach I think I've ever been to.  The tide was low...perfect for exploring the rocky areas.  We spent the rest of the day exploring, swimming at the hotel pool, playing at the park and relaxing, and thinking up stories about the pirates that invaded this area - a favorite activity of Max's.  At one point we ended up on what I believe is the only nude beach in Panama.  I tentatively looked around.  Ok good, there's no one here, I can take off my clothes.  Just kidding.  That's not really my thing.  But with the kids there, I just really didn't want to have to answer why grandpa doesn't have any swimming suit on. 


 The beach here had beautiful sky blue, smooth rocks.  I'm not a geologist and never had much interest in rocks but these were really amazing.  I couldn't resist collecting some to take home and use in one of my glass vases.  As we drove away from the nude beach, we drove by what I dubbed the "refrigerator section" due to its high volume of discarded appliances, and there was a deer.  Apparently someone brought over several hundred deer 40 years ago and it's become a real problem for the airplanes.  Today, the guide said there were probably less than 100 left but they're so tame, they'll eat right out of your hand.The next morning we arranged for a 2 hour boat tour.  We headed out with our Tour Guide on the boat.  He showed us the islands where they filmed "Survivor".  He also showed us the house on the islands where the losers got to stay after they were booted.  Really nice digs.  Beautiful house on a cliff overlooking the water.  White sandy beaches below.  Hammocks in a private bungalow.  Not so bad to be a loser.

We stopped off on the island and jumped in to snorkel.  It was Max's first time and the fish we saw were gorgeous.  Lila decided to just swim it with me  Then we all loaded back up to head off to another beautiful island.  Lila was quick to find a sand dollar and other beautiful shells.  We walked across the beach and up through the mangroves.  Truly amazing.

That afternoon we took golf carting to a whole new dimension.  It was more like 4 wheeling, except with a golf cart and no helmuts and 4 people in the front seat and going 5 mph.  But we did take on some treacherous paths and there were times I was planning on how to safely make an exit.  Ok Coley you're in charge of Max and I'll jump with Lila.  But after Coley told me just to relax, I realized there was really no way we'd be able to survive if our brakes went out so I just went with it. 

On Hotel Contadora's beach we explored an old abandoned ferry (see photo below).  I wonder what that story was.  Max thought it had something to do with pirates.  We stopped at the airport and watched the 20 seater planes take off and land.  Back at the hotel, we played pool and foosball.  Drank our fair share of pina coladas which were very very good by the way. 


The next day we headed out.  The airplane even allowed us to board even though we had lost our boarding passes.  So laid back, just my style.






Posted by on 01/25 at 11:13 AM
Things To Do in Panama

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Vacation rental information, travel tips and advice, and general observations about life at "The Crossroads of the World" from an American and a Canadian on the ground in Panama.

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