Contadora Island Ferry from Panama Metropolis – what you want to know

Contadora Island Ferry from Panama Metropolis, Panama

Contadora Island is a tropical island positioned within the Pearl Islands archipelago within the Gulf of Panama (on the Pacific Ocean aspect). There are over 200 islands and inlets on this archipelago and Contadora is the preferred with vacationers. In the event you’re planning to take the Contadora Island Ferry from Panama Metropolis, there’s a couple of issues you must know.

Enjoyable truth – the favored actuality tv sequence Survivor was filmed within the Pearl Islands. 

On this submit, we share our expertise taking the Sea Las Perlas ferry from Panama Metropolis to Contadora Island (and again once more).

Whereas we made it to Isla Contadora simply fantastic, there are some things we want we knew earlier than our departure. We’ll breakdown every of these things beneath so you possibly can be taught from our expertise.

  • There are two Contadora Island ferry corporations which have comparable names – Sea Las Perlas and Ferry Las Perlas. This may be complicated for first time guests.  
  • These two ferry corporations depart from totally different areas in Panama Metropolis. That is necessary to know. Extra on that later.
  • There isn’t any dock or marina on Contadora Island, which suggests passengers should be taxied in a small boat from the ferry to the seashore. 
  • The small boats that transport friends wouldn’t have sufficient (or any) life jackets. These boats are sometimes overloaded with passengers and baggage. 

Now, earlier than we get began, it’s necessary to notice that issues could have modified since our journey to Panama in February 2020. A pandemic occurred, in spite of everything. So, whereas that is our private expertise taking the Contadora Island ferry, your expertise is likely to be totally different. 

Associated – Images from our journey to Contadora Island

There are TWO Contadora Island ferry corporations

After we researched how you can get to Contadora Island from Panama Metropolis, we discovered a couple of web sites that offered tickets for the Contadora Island ferry. We learn that it’s greatest to guide your ferry straight with the tour operator, quite than utilizing a ferry ticketing service like Direct Ferries.  

On the time, we assumed there was just one ferry to Contadora. After we arrived in Panama, we discovered that there are literally two ferry corporations that supply transportation from Panama Metropolis to Contadora Island – Sea Las Perlas and Ferry Las Perlas.

Now, to somebody who’s conversant in these ferry corporations and the method, this will appear insignificant. However, for first time guests like us, it may be complicated. 

We used the Sea Las Perlas on-line reserving system to buy the ferry tickets.

We booked 4 x spherical journey tickets – 2 adults and a pair of little one. On the time of reserving, we paid $98 USD per grownup and $78 USD per little one, for whole of $352 USD. 

We made our ferry ticket reservations a couple of weeks earlier than arriving in Panama. There’s just one ferry departure per day, so we didn’t need to danger a offered out ferry. That may have impacted our resort reservation at Lodge Mar y Oro.

Two ferry corporations = Two ferry terminals

After we researched the Contadora Island ferry terminal location, we had been pointed to a dock beside the JW Marriott Panama Metropolis. 

See the map above. Discover the blue dotted line that reads ‘Ferry Las Perlas Panama Metropolis – Saboga – Contadora’.

We assumed this was the one ferry terminal. This was an incorrect assumption that gave us an enormous shock the afternoon earlier than our departure day. 

Sea Las Perlas ferry terminal is in a totally totally different location from the Ferry Las Perlas ferry terminal. 

Actually, they’re positioned on reverse sides of Panama Metropolis. See map beneath. 

The Sea Las Perlas ferry departs from Flamenco Marina on Flamenco Island, which is a well-liked Panama Metropolis vacationer attraction and gateway to the Panama Canal. The Ferry Las Perlas ferry departs from a personal dock in entrance of the Previous Trump Tower in Panama Metropolis. 

The space between these two ferry terminals is roughly 15 kilometres. With no visitors, it takes about half-hour to get from one terminal to the opposite.

The ferry begins boarding at 6:45 AM. If you find yourself on the fallacious ferry terminal, you’re going to overlook your boat. There’s just one ferry service per day, so this might severely mess up your journey plans. 

See the Contadora Island ferry schedule right here.

We nearly made the error of going to the fallacious ferry terminal

The afternoon earlier than our journey to Isla Contadora we determined to stroll over to the ferry terminal. As a result of the ferry departs at 7:30 AM, we needed to check how lengthy it will take for us to stroll from our resort to the ferry.

We purposely booked an evening on the Marriott Residence Inn as a result of it was positioned near the ferry terminal (it’s a fantastic resort, by the best way. Superior rooftop pool. We suggest it).

After we lastly discovered the Ferry Las Perlas test in counter (it’s not simple to search out), we had been knowledgeable that our ferry truly departs from the Flamenco Marina ferry terminal. Good factor we checked! We received up further early the subsequent morning and took an Uber from our resort to the ferry. Catastrophe averted. 

Don’t make the identical mistake! Affirm your ferry departure location.

Above is the Contadora Island ferry. That is the Flamenco Marina Dock and Sea Las Perlas ferry terminal in Panama Metropolis.

The ferry departs day by day at 7:30 AM. Boarding begins at 6:45 AM. Plan for an early morning.

Contadora Island ferry seats

The above photograph reveals the seating structure inside Sea Las Perlas ferry to Isla Contadora. I imagine we chosen seats on the time of reserving. Nevertheless, the seating preparations seem like versatile. The crew didn’t appear to care the place passengers sit.

The boat was not full on our journey from Panama Metropolis to Contadora. 

The seats on this ferry are comfy. We had window seats.

Baggage is piled on the entrance of the boat. There isn’t any bag tagging system. Crew will help with giant and heavy baggage.

Baggage is delivered to the again of the boat upon arrival at Contadora Island. You could notify the crew which piece of baggage is yours. It’s feels a bit a chaotic, nevertheless it works. Not less than, till it doesn’t. 

View of the Panama Metropolis skyline from the Contadora Island ferry.

Some passengers select to take a seat exterior behind the ferry. There’s not quite a lot of seating right here and it will get fairly windy. That is additionally the place the bogs are positioned.

There isn’t any dock or marina at Contadora Island

That is the a part of the journey the place issues received uncomfortable. On condition that Contadora Island is essentially the most developed of the Pearl Islands, and it’s a preferred vacationer vacation spot, we assumed the boat would arrive at a dock after we reached the island.

I don’t imagine that is an uncommon expectation. We’ve travelled on many ferries and business boats in our lifetime, and nearly all of them arrive at a dock or marina. 

This isn’t the case on Contadora Island (though, there’s a dock on neighboring Saboga Island).

We had been stunned when the boat dropped anchor about 100 meters from land. Crew members shouted in Spanish as passengers gathered their baggage and transfer in the direction of the again of the boat. We had been confused. Why are we stopping right here?

One after the other, passengers climbed right into a small, weathered boat. The ship’s crew handed down the heavy baggage and piled it on the entrance of the boat. The boat rocked forwards and backwards as every passenger discovered a sliver of seating. Each inch of house is stuffed with folks, baggage and provides.

There are not any life jackets on this boat. Not less than, no life jackets had been offered or seen. We didn’t take pleasure in this. Our youngest boy can’t swim. Our older boy just isn’t a powerful swimmer, both.

We thought, “if this boat capsizes we’re all in massive bother”.

Happily, we introduced our children’ life jacket (like this one) that our youngest makes use of when swimming. This gave us some consolation. 

Black smoke spewed from the previous motor because it puttered in the direction of land. It solely took 5 minutes to succeed in the seashore, nevertheless it felt for much longer. 

Clearly that is regular routine for the Contadora ferry. Different passengers appeared unfazed by this switch. Had we been mentally ready for this, and there was correct life jackets for our boys, I don’t assume we might have felt the nervousness that we did that morning.

Our return journey was a lot better, largely as a result of we reset our expectations. 

Baggage is piled on the entrance of the boat. Nothing defending them from splashing water or an surprising wave. I’m wondering what this course of is like throughout unhealthy climate? 

A second boat transports visitor from the ferry to the seashore. 

Arriving on the seashore at Contadora Island

It’s greatest that you simply put on sandals or flip flops since you’re ft will get moist while you disembark the small boat on the seashore. The water is shallow however the waves can splash as much as your knees. 

Hold this expertise in thoughts in case you or your journey companion has mobility points. It is likely to be higher for folks with bodily limitations to take the airplane to Contadora as a substitute. 

The Sea Las Perlas ferry drops passengers on Playa Larga, which is dwelling to the deserted Lodge Contadora Resort. Rugged golf carts drive on the seashore to gather friends and transport them to their resort lodging. We stayed at Lodge Mar y Oro and would suggest it.

Journey tip – inform your Contadora resort what ferry you’ll be taking. The resort will ship somebody to select you up. Golf carts are the principle type of transportation on Contadora.

Above is the deserted shipwreck on Contadora Island at low tide. At excessive tide, the again of the previous ferry is submerged underwater. 

Contadora Island lodges will ship a golf cart to select you up from the seashore, which could be very handy. We take pleasure in this mode of transportation. Our boys assume it’s tremendous cool to drive on the seashore in a golf cart. 

See extra pictures of Lodge Mar y Oro Contadora Island right here.

There are a number of seashores for Contadora ferry arrivals

Though the Sea Las Perlas ferry arrives at Playa Larga, the opposite ferry could arrive on the Ferry Terminal Contadora – highlighted within the above map, north of the airstrip. For this reason it’s necessary to tell your resort what ferry you’ll be on. Be particular to keep away from confusion.

We stayed on the Lodge Mar y Oro, which is highlighted on the backside of the map. We’re instructed that typically the Contadora ferry arrives and departs from Cacique Seashore, stated to be the very best seashore on Contadora. 

The seashore location would possibly change resulting from seasonal climate situations. 

Sea Las Perlas Ferry Examine-in on Contadora Island

The above and beneath pictures is the place you catch the Sea Las Perlas Ferry again to Panama Metropolis. That is the one surviving constructing on the previous Lodge Contadora property. It’s now a small cafe and ferry ready space. 

Departure time is 3:00 PM day by day. Plan to reach no less than half-hour early as a result of passengers should be taxied from the seashore to the anchored ferry. 

We loved a chilly beer whereas ready for the ferry departure again to Panama Metropolis. There’s a good stretch seashore right here, so plan to reach no less than an hour early to take pleasure in your ultimate moments on the island. 

Contadora ferry again to Panama Metropolis, Panama

Within the above photograph you’ll see two ferries. We traveled on the white catamaran (to the best) from Panama Metropolis to Contadora Island. On the return journey again to the mainland, we took the white and blue ferry, on the left. This ferry additionally stops at Saboga Island to select up passengers.

Ferry journey time from Contadora to Panama Metropolis is about 90 minutes.

Above is a map that reveals the gap between Panama Metropolis and Contadora Island.

Some folks get sea illness on this ferry

We had been fantastic on the journey from Panama Metropolis to Isla Contadora, nevertheless it was a distinct story on the return journey. We had been on a distinct boat, as you possibly can see in these pictures. The seats will not be as comfy as the opposite boat. We needed to ask some friends to kindly swap seats so we might sit collectively as a household. 

The boat journey again to the mainland was tough. The climate was fantastic, however the water was fairly uneven. Because the boat pushed by the swells, it rocked forwards and backwards. We gave our boys some gravel and so they tried to sleep. 

It’s solely a 90 minute journey, so it’s not too unhealthy. We didn’t get sick, however we had been completely satisfied after we stepped again on land. 

You should purchase snacks and drinks on this ferry. Costs are cheap. I feel we paid round $10 for 4 drinks and a pair snacks. 

If in case you have any questions on taking the Contadora ferry from Panama Metropolis, or vice versa, depart us a remark and we’ll reply as quickly as we are able to. In the event you’ve taken the Contadora Island ferry and also you had a distinct expertise, please share your journey ideas within the feedback beneath. 

Learn extra posts from our journey to Panama:

  • The Deserted Lodge Contadora Resort in Panama
  • Easy methods to get to San Blas Islands from Panama Metropolis
  • Images of Contadora Island, Panama
  • Is flying Copa Airways Enterprise Class value it?

Have you ever taken the Contadora Island ferry? What did we miss?

Please share your Contadora ferry expertise within the feedback beneath. Our readers thanks. 

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