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    Contadora, Panama

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    Reviewed by Kathleen Peddicord

    Kathleen is the Live and Invest Overseas Founding Publisher. She has more than 30 years of hands-on experience traveling, living, and buying property around the world.


    Panama's Friendly Pacific Island: Isla Contadora

    Sport boat anchored in Contadora island shore, Panama

    Isla Contadora is a stunning island in the Pearl Islands archipelago ofPanama. It is known for its picturesque beaches, clear waters, and serene tropical surroundings.

    With a rich history and a reputation as a luxurious getaway, Contadora offers a blend of natural beauty and upscale amenities. Situated 50 kilometers off the Pacific coast of Panama, Contadora is easily accessible by boat or plane.

    The island spans just over two square kilometers and is home to a small population of permanent residents.

    There are over 200 islands forming the archipelago. Many are uninhabited and noted for their natural beauty and marine resources.

    Others, like Contadora, have become places for Panamanians and expats to escape to for a long weekend. For those lucky enough to call the island home, you will find the best beaches closest to Panama City, along with some of the best fishing in the country’s Pacific.

    For decades the now-defunct Contadora Resort and Casino was an icon of tropical luxury. It had peacocks, deer, 350 rooms, attracted Hollywood celebrities, and was regarded as the most famous five-star island resort in Latin America.

    Today, Contadora is the island where the production crews of many countries stay for extended periods as they continue to film the Survivor TV series and documentaries on several of the nearby remote islands.

    Contadora Island has an international flavor. As a aresult, it’s the kind of place you can run into and rub shoulders with people from all over the world in a nice recreational format where people like to have conversations.

    Above all, crime is very low on the islands, you’ll certainly feel safe walking around alone all hours of the day and night.

    You can generally speak English at the front desks of business establishments on Contadora and in the beach clubs on islands throughout Las Perlas.

    Where Is Contadora Located?

    Contadora is approximately 90 minute boat ride from Panama City, via an express ferry leaving the city’s landmark Amador Causeway. The island is accessible via ferries, by Air Panama to the regional airport on Contadora, or by private boat.

    [Check Out Nearby Island: Isla Taboga]

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    Cost Of Living In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora Island, Pearl islands, Panama.

    Isla Contadora is a small island in Panama known for its luxurious resorts and beautiful beaches.

    Remember that Panama uses the U.S. dollar. and the cost of living on Isla Contadora is driven up by the logistics and expense of getting the products and services to the island. The cost of manpower to unload groceries off barges, transport goods, and stock shelves adds to the cost of the items sold.

    In general, if something costs US$2 in Panama City, it will cost US$2.50 on the islands. Fresh fruit and vegetables are found on the days the barge lands. Of course, you can get a whopping deal on fresh fish and shrimp if you buy from the local fishermen; approximately US$5 to US$6 per pound. Or better yet, catch dinner yourself.

    Generally speaking, the cost of living in Contadora is higher compared to many other parts of Panama due to its status as a tourist destination.

    Contadora Island has two very small grocery stores with limited and mostly small quantities of goods.

    The cost of accommodation on the island can range from US$200 to US$500 per night or higher for high-end accommodations.

    Above all, rental prices for houses on Contadora can range from US$1,000 to US$3,000 or more per month.

    A meal at a mid-range restaurant may cost around US$15 to US$30 per person. However, if you cook your own meals or eat at local eateries, you can definitely save money and live in Contadora on a budget.

    On the other hand, you can still expect to pay slightly higher prices for food items compared to mainland Panama due to transportation costs.

    On Contadora, most people get around on foot or by golf cart, as cars are not as common. Renting a golf cart can cost around US$50 to US$100 per day, depending on the rental period. Otherwise, there is little to no transportation cost once you are on the island.

    The utility costs (including electricity, water, and internet, etc.) are generally higher on islands compared to the mainland due to logistical challenges.

    For instance, we recommend that you ask about specific rates from the service providers on Contadora before making any decisions.

    When it comes to groceries, you can expect to pay anywhere from US$200 to US$400 per month, depending on what kind of items you buy.

    It is extremely easy to live on a budget food wise in Contadora, Panama. But, since it is an island, the options will be slightly more limited as well as more expensive.

    Contadora, Panama, is a tourist destination, there are various activities and tours that are available for you.

    Prices for boat tours, water sports, and other recreational activities can vary. So, check with local tour operators for current prices.

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    While Contadora may seem extremely expensive, the cost of living in Contadora and Panama, in general, can be more affordable compared to different parts of the United States.

    In short, it can be a financial benefit for Americans looking to stretch their retirement savings or looking for a more affordable lifestyle.

    Even compared to other parts of Panama, Contadora comes at a bargain price. Where else can you find such a high end island destination to live on for around US$1000 per month for a single person?

    Apartment Or House Ownership Budget (For A Couple)

    ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
    MortgageNot included here as too variable.
    HOA FeesUS$800Not on the water; US$1,200 if waterfront property.
    Property TaxesUS$1,200This is an estimate. 18 cents multiplied by US$1,000 of the registered value of the property.
    Transportation
    GasUS$50Cooking and heating.
    ElectricityUS$180
    WaterUS$60
    Cell PhoneUS$20
    InternetUS$25
    Cable TVUS$25
    Household HelpUS$200Twice a week visits (six hours each).
    EntertainmentUS$250Couples’ cost for eating out twice a week, drinks twice a week, movie theatre trip twice a month.
    GroceriesUS$200Basic items for a couple
    Gym Membership
    Medical Appointment
    TOTALUS$3,010

    Apartment Or House Rental Budget (For A Couple)

    ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
    RentUS$2,000Unfurnished, two-bedroom, comfortable apartment or house.
    Transportation
    GasUS$50Cooking and heating.
    ElectricityUS$180
    WaterUS$60
    Cell PhoneUS$20
    InternetUS$25
    Cable TVUS$25
    Household HelpUS$200Twice a week visits (six hours each).
    EntertainmentUS$250Couples’ cost for eating out twice a week, drinks twice a week, movie theatre trip twice a month.
    GroceriesUS$200Basic items for a couple.
    Gym Membership
    Medical Appointment
    TOTALUS$3,010

    Penny-Pincher’s Budget (Bare Minimum Costs, For A Couple)

    ExpenseMonthly CostsNotes
    RentUS$800Most basic kind of rental. Starting range.
    Transportation
    GasUS$50Cooking and heating.
    ElectricityUS$180
    WaterUS$40
    Cell PhoneUS$20
    InternetUS$25
    Cable TVUS$25
    EntertainmentUS$60
    GroceriesUS$200
    TOTALUS$1,400.00

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    Best Things to Do In Contadora, Panama

    While Contadora is known for its tranquility, visitors can engage in various activities and attractions. For example, island-hopping tours to explore neighboring islands, whale-watching excursions during the migration season, golf cart tours to discover the island’s hidden gems, and water sports such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and jet skiing.

    Contadora offers a true island getaway experience. Most importantly, it offers a sense of seclusion and tranquility, allowing visitors to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

    The laid-back atmosphere, gentle ocean breeze, and beautiful sunsets create a peaceful ambiance that is perfect for relaxation and rejuvenation. Contadora also offers a range of outdoor activities for adventure seekers.

    Exploring the Beaches In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora is renowned for its stunning beaches with crystal-clear waters and white sand. Playa Larga, Playa Cacique, Playa Ejecutiva, and Playa Sueca are among the popular beaches to visit. Also, spend your days sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, or simply relaxing on these picturesque beaches.

    Snorkeling and Diving In Contadora, Panama

    The waters around Contadora are teeming with marine life, making it an excellent spot for snorkeling and diving. You can rent equipment or join a guided tour to explore the vibrant coral reefs, swim alongside colorful fish, and even get to see rays and sea turtles.

    Whale Watching In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora is a prime location for whale watching, particularly during the humpback whale migration season from July to October. Take a boat tour to see these magnificent creatures as they breathe and play in the surrounding waters.

    Island Hopping In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora is part of the Pearl Islands archipelago, which consists of over 200 islands and islets. Embark on an island-hopping tour to discover secluded beaches, uninhabited islands, and enjoy the pristine natural beauty of the region.

    Fishing In Contadora, Panama

    Fishing enthusiasts can enjoy deep-sea fishing excursions from Contadora. Charter a boat and try your luck at catching marlin, tuna, snapper, or dorado. Plus, local operators offer half-day or full-day fishing trips.

    Retirement In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora, Panama, can be an attractive choice for retirement due to its natural beauty, warm climate, and laid-back island lifestyle.

    Firstly, Contadora enjoys a tropical climate, with warm temperatures year-round. Retirees seeking a relaxed island lifestyle, surrounded by beautiful beaches and natural landscapes, may find Contadora appealing.

    The slower pace of life and the opportunity for outdoor activities like swimming, snorkeling, and boating can contribute to a fulfilling retirement experience.

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    Safety In Contadora, Panama

    The Azuero Peninsula in Panama is a generally safe region for residents and visitors. However, it’s always important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings to ensure your safety.

    Weather In Contadora, Panama

    Contadora, Panama, enjoys a tropical climate with warm temperatures year-round. The two primary seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.

    The dry season in Contadora typically lasts from December to April. During this period, you can expect abundant sunshine, clear skies, and minimal rainfall. The temperatures are warm and pleasant, ranging from around 77°F to 86°F during the day.

    The rainy season in Contadora extends from May to November. Therefore, this period experiences increased rainfall, but it’s important to note that the rain showers are often short-lived and sporadic, with intermittent sunshine in between.

    The temperatures stay relatively consistent, ranging from around 75°F to 84°F during the day.

    It’s worth mentioning that the Azuero Peninsula, where Contadora is located, is known to receive slightly less rainfall compared to other parts of Panama.

    Overall, Contadora offers a warm and tropical climate throughout the year, with the dry season providing more predictable and sunny weather.

    Contadora, Panama - FAQs

    Is Contadora, Panama, Worth Visiting?

    Yes. Contadora, Panama, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. The island is blessed with pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and lush tropical landscapes. Looking to relax on the beach, snorkel in vibrant coral reefs, or simply soak in the picturesque surroundings? Then, Contadora offers a serene and captivating environment.

    What Is Contadora, Panama, Known For?

    Contadora, Panama, is known for its stunning secluded beaches. It’s part of the Pearl Islands archipelago, a group of islands known for their natural beauty and rich marine life. The archipelago has been a filming location for reality TV shows and is famous for its pearl-diving history.

    Is Contadora, Panama, A Good Place To Retire?

    Contadora, Panama, can be a good place to retire for those looking for a tranquil and picturesque tropical environment. The island’s natural beauty, with its stunning beaches and lush landscapes, offers a serene backdrop for retirement. The consistent warm climate throughout the year is also appealing to retirees who prefer mild and pleasant weather.

    Why Should Americans Move To Contadora, Panama?

    Americans may find compelling reasons to move to Contadora, Panama. Firstly, the island offers a stunning natural beauty with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and lush tropical landscapes. This appeals to those seeking a relaxed beach lifestyle and year-round outdoor activities like swimming, snorkeling, and boating. Contadora’s favorable climate is a haven for Americans looking to escape harsh winters or unpredictable weather patterns.

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