The Pearl Islands are a group of 100 or more islands (many tiny and uninhabited) lying about 30 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama in the Gulf of Panama.
The most notable island is Contadora Island , known for its resorts. Contadora was said to be used by the Spanish conquistadors as a stop for taking inventory of booty prior to returning to Spain, hence the name (contador means counter or bookkeeper in Spanish). Contadora is a resort island, with many homes owned by wealthy Panamanians. There is a large hotel and other cabins available. Most of the resort workers live on nearby Isla Saboga. In 1979, the Shah of Iran briefly took exile on Isla Contadora.
The largest island, at about 30 square miles, is Isla del Rey ("Island of the King"), its name probably a religious reference rather than a reference to a secular king. Isla del Rey has several towns, most notably San Miguel. It is easily larger than the other Pearl Islands combined, and is the second largest island in Panama, after Coiba.
Other islands are Bolano, Buena Vista, Cana, Casaya, Chepra, Chitre, Cocos, Espiritu Santo, Galera, Gallo, Gilbraleon, Lampon, Marin, Mina, Mogo Mogo o Pajaro, Pacheca, Pachequille, Pedro Gonzalez, Puerco, San Jose, Senora, Vivenda, Vivienda and Viveros.
The lonely island of Galera is beautiful beyond description, with its heavy facade of very tall coconut palm trees and a beautiful white sandy beach. However it is a very perilous area to navigate a boat in. There are very strong currents, combined with shallows and jagged reefs surrounding the island. Unless one is familiar with the marine topography of Galera it is best to keep a distance when navigating it.