The Pearl Islands are an archipelago located directly South of Panama City. San Jose Island is the second largest of the Pearl Islands, with 44 sq. kilometers, located in the middle of the Gulf of Panama and just 90 kilometers away from Panama City.
In pre-Columbian times, the Pearl Islands were ruled by an Indian king whose subjects' main occupation was pearl-diving. Pearls were then used as ornaments and to trade. Some of the most renowned pearls in the world were collected in these waters.
The Pearl Islands awoke the greed of the Spaniards. Vasco Nunez de Balboa, who discovered and named the Pacific Ocean from a point less than 90 kilometers from San Jose Island, was attracted by its wealth in gold and pearls. Later on, the Pearl Islands sheltered famous pirates of different nationalities that for several centuries looted the wealthy Spanish settlements and fleets.
Over 57 splendorous coral white, ebony black and radiant gold beaches and coves surround San Jose Island, embedded between the temperate and calm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Panama. Lush green vegetation covers the whole island over gently sloping hills which peak, at the north of the island, to 440 feet. The climate of the island is tropical with the temperature ranging between a minimum of 65 F, and a high of 93 F, with an average of 79 F. Also, there are no hurricanes, as opposed to the Caribbean; nor earthquakes to worry about.
The coastline is very irregular, affording many anchorage locations. Many fresh-water rivers and streams flow into the ocean creating a food source for many species of fish, both saltwater and brackish species. This provides excellent opportunities for inshore fishing; creating exciting fishing directly from the shore. The waters of San Jose abound in tropical game fish, and are considered-among the best deep sea fishing grounds in the world. Never do San Jose game-seekers return empty-handed. 16 black marlin world records have been conquered in these waters. Marlin, large Pacific sailfish, tuna, dolphin, wahoo, amberjack, cobera and red snapper, corvina and mackerel, as well as marine turtles, lobster, shrimp, giant oysters, clams and mussels make this a paradise for fishermen and divers!
The soil is extremely fertile and nourishes a wide variety of vegetation including gallery forests with trees rising 80 feet and higher, with occasional arboreal giants. Coconut palms and wild sugar cane are found along the coastline. Several hitherto unknown plants have been found here, and were named after World War II commanders, such as Gen. Bullone, Lt. Colonel-Thompson and Major Campbell.
The Pearl Island of San Jose offers eco tours that are amazing as the wildlife is abundant due to the rich vegetation and the profusion of fresh water from the many spring fed rivers. As Hacienda del Mar is a private island with no native human population, the island is unspoiled due to the restriction of all hunting for many years. There is a population of over 3,000 wild pigs, large quantities of deer, black and green iguanas, agoutis, parrot and giant pigeons. In fact there are over 100 species of birds located on San Jose Island and neighboring waters.
The beaches are used by many sea turtles for the purpose of nesting and laying their eggs. The Sea Turtles Conservation Program releases over 100 sea turtles annually which are raised from birth. You can see these turtles from the pool area at Hacienda del Mar. Additionally; Panama is an active migration route for many species of fish and mammals. For instance, humpback whales can often be seen right from the beach - an awesome sight.
*Source: Content and photos with friendly permission of the Hacienda del Mar Resort.