Our time was limited in Panama City, so we didn’t have time to make it out to Bocas del Toro or any of the other islands that Panama is famous for. But we still wanted to see some beach! We were planning on a day trip to Taboga, but after chatting up a local businessman at the bar of our hotel, the stunning Trump Ocean Club, we changed our plans to Contadora Island. There were very few tourists on the early-morning ferry, which proved to be quite an experience! Supplies are very expensive on the island, so families walked out onto the docks with carts of groceries, toilet paper and rum. We wished we had a few days to relax in paradise!
Our alarm had gone off when it was still dark out, so I slept most of the ferry ride. But I think it took about an hour and a half. A lot of locals spend their weekends on the island, so since we were headed there on a Sunday morning, the ferry was only half-full. It was great: We all stepped across the ramp, climbed onboard, spread out and went right to sleep. When we got to Contadora Island, however, chaos ensued. There was no dock like in the big city! Small boats were sent out to get us. I was dressed for a day at the beach, so I didn’t mind. But I watched in awe as the locals rolled up their pants and hopped in the water, passing suitcases and boxes over their heads like it was nothing!
There were both pluses and minuses to going to a locals’ hot spot. As soon as we landed, the beach cleared out, as everyone made their way to their vacation homes. There really weren’t any tourists at all, and we weren’t sure what to do. We briefly considered taking a ride around the island to see what it offered.
Then we decided that we didn’t want to waste any time. We were on Contadora Island for a day of sea and surf! The one rental place said their boats were already booked, but we did not take no for an answer. We nicely and politely begged for them to find a local fisherman who wanted to take us around for a few hours. Looking around, all we saw were yachts, so we weren’t sure what our odds were. But after only a few minutes were told we were in luck!
Our knight in shining armor pulled up in the brightest boat in sight!
We were so happy being out on the water! Our fearless fisherman guided us through some of the islands before docking on a deserted beach on the island of Chapera.
For the next few hours, we did absolutely nothing but play in the soft sand, soak in the sun and swim in the clear water. We didn’t see another soul the whole time we were there. It was a perfect day!
For information, schedules and fares for the ferry to and from Panama City and Contadora Island, visit Sea Las Perlas.
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