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Panama's Pearl Island

October 13, 2011 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent



Pearl Island
Even after the elaborate development plans are implemented, 75 percent of Pearl Island will be untouched.


Agents looking for the next big sale in Panama should set their sights on Pearl Island, a serene Pacific island that is being gradually transformed into a luxurious, yet sustainable, five-star hideaway. Just an hour by boat from the bustling Panama City, with 18 miles of unspoiled coastline and 14 private sandy beaches, Pearl Island represents probably the largest luxury private island development in Central America. When the development is completed, the island will not only offer a hot new product to sell to upscale travelers but will also be in demand among ecotourists and soft-adventure seekers visiting the region.

One of the few untouched areas in Latin America, Pearl Island will give your clients a chance to experience a private island complemented by a full range of luxury amenities. Although it is still a few years away from completion, early 2011 prices for lots, one to two acres in size, range from $800,000 to $2 million, which should give some idea of the scope of this project.

Private homes are expected to be included in a fully commissionable rental pool, but full logistics around this are still being finalized.

The project is a joint venture between luxury resort developer Dolphin Capital Investors and Panama-based Grupo Eleta. The goal is to create a low-density, sustainable, premium luxury leisure development. As many as three five-star luxury-brand hotels are part of the development plans. However, this is still in the preliminary stages and no names have been disclosed.

The first phase of the development will focus on homes, with owners designing their own residences. The second phase is to build turnkey casitas that can be put into a rental pool. Sources report that a few home sites and clifftop oceanfront villas are already available for sale as part of the initial Founders’ Phase of the development along the Zancadilla Peninsula. Key selling points are settings that afford both privacy and spectacular scenic ocean or bay views.

Natural Attractions

Dedicated to conservation, the developers of Pearl Island have also created the not-for-profit Island Foundation. Funded by a percentage of property sales, it sponsors numerous projects to protect the island’s precious bio-diversity, including turtle tagging and whale shark preservation. Through the Pearl Farming Project, the developers also plan to restore the island’s cultural heritage and bring back to life the traditional art of pearl cultivation.

The island’s tropical forests, lagoons, rivers and offshore islets are home to more than a dozen species of mammals, 20 varieties of lizards and other amphibians, and—particularly noteworthy to any bird-watchers among you clientele—it serves as a sanctuary for some 150 avian species, including a great number of migrating pelicans. The Gulf of Panama is also one of the few places in the world where whales and dolphins occupy the same warm, shallow waters as tropical fish and coral.

These natural wonders will be complemented by an abundance of activities and recreational facilities. More than 25 miles of natural biking and hiking trails are on the agenda of the developers. Residents and visitors will also be able to take advantage of a marina for fishing, yachting and other boating activities, a gym, a kids’ club, a beach club with tennis courts, a horseback riding center, and a luxury spa specializing in island-inspired treatments. Even with all of this, your environmentally conscious clients will be glad to know that 75 percent of the island will remain untouched.

Getting There

Only an hour by boat and 20 minutes by air from Panama City, Pearl Island has the benefit of being on the doorstep of one of Central America’s most exciting metropolises. This captivating city boasts buzzing nightlife, varied restaurants, a lively art scene and a charming colonial center for residents to enjoy. Furthermore, Panama’s stable government and currency as well as tax advantages make this an appealing destination for overseas buyers.


Boating Activities
Boating activities will be among the many recreational options available to visitors on Pearl Island.


Your clients may have competition for vacation time on Pearl Island and elsewhere in Panama come May 2012, when Aventuras 2000 and International Tourists begin operating charter flights to Panama City from Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. These charters have been added to the agreement signed by Panama and Mexico to expand the routes and increase the frequency of flights between the two countries. This could mean additional opportunities for travel agents to market multi-destination itineraries.

As part of the agreement, Copa Airlines increased weekly flights to Mexico City (from 21 to 28), to Cancun (from 21 to 35) and maintained the seven flights to Guadalajara, as well as incorporated routes to Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo. Additionally,  Aeromexico, has requested authorization to start flying between Mexico City and Tocumen International Airport, just outside Panama City, in the first quarter of next year.


Funjet Adds Panama to Its Lineup

Funjet Vacations continues to expand, and now has packages with service to and from Panama’s Tocumen International Airport. These are available via scheduled air service on American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, US Airways and Copa Airlines from points of origin nationwide.

This is the first of several Panama incentives to be announced this year. To be eligible, participants must be members of Fun For Life, Funjet Vacations’ Agent Rewards Program. Cash is automatically tracked through the program.

This addition to Funjet’s product lineup includes 15 hotels in the three main destination zones—Panama City, the rain forest, and the beach. The hotels will range from a 2.5-star lodge built on stilts over the Caribbean Sea to luxurious hotels in Panama City. To further enhance clients’ vacation experience, agents can offer an array of tours, including the city and canal tour, the indigenous community encounter and the cross-country train excursion.

Funjet plans to release its 2012 Panama brochure in the next few weeks. Agents can also visit Funjet Vacations’ online sales, marketing and communication resource center at


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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | October 13, 2011
One of the few untouched areas in Latin America, Pearl Island will give your clients a chance to experience a private island complemented by a full range of luxury amenities. Although it is still a few years away from completion, early 2011 prices for lots, one to two acres in size, range from $800,000 to $2 million, which should give some idea of the scope of this project.