I just had my most recent private beach experience in Panama at a hidden gem called Sonny Island in the Pearl Islands (Isles de Perlas). In the last couple months during Covid, the island has made a lot of expansions and additions, while still keep the small boutique bungalow feel on this sandy private island a short ferry ride out of Panama City. To me, it is definitely a must visit here, and for those that find Contadora and the other larger islands too congested, you will find the quiet solitude and tranquility on this island.
Location: Just a 20 minute drive from Panama City , you will head to the Marina Flamenco Pier to catch the ferry to this private island. Departure is usually 7:00, but get there at 6:45 to give you time to check in, grab a seat in the air conditioned section of the ferry, and grab some breakfast . Once on board you will take 1:30 -1:45 ferry ride to the island. Once there , you will take a smaller boat that will take you ashore. Once there, you will get a short introduction to the island, get your lunch order placed, then enjoy 5 hours on the beach before your departure time of 3:00pm to head back home with your day pass.
Ferry Cost: The ferry is $100 for a round trip, but there are discounts on apps similar to Groupon that offer a 50% discount.
Indoor air-conditioned seating and outdoor seating
Beverages available for purchase: coffee, water, beers, soda
Whale Sightings- During whale season, you have the chance to spot whales, and the new is kind enough to slow down, get closer, and point them out to you
Sonny Island Day Pass: $50: includes :
lunch (usually fish, chicken, burgers), small salad and a side plus beverages
paddle boards (additional cost)
Also, there are outdoor showers, bathrooms, changing rooms for all day guests.
What to Bring: Being a remote private island, there are some draw backs. Snacks are expensive , food is limited to the lunch that comes with the day pass. Must needs are sandals, swim trunks, reusable water bottles, sun screen, towels, snacks, extra food, liquor(in water bottle, not checked), sunglasses, and all other beach accessories.
Pets: Pet Friendly
Language: Bi-lingual Staff (EN/ES)
Sonny Island also offers overnight cabana/bungalows starting at ~$250 with seasonal promotions of up to 50%. All the cabanas are eco-friendly and electricity is provided via solar panels on the island while the water is all provided by storage and purification tanks.
These bungalows offer:
private bathroom and shower
beautiful sunset terraces