Thirty miles south of Panama’s coast lies the Pearl Islands archipelago, a network of Panamanian Gulf islands so postcard perfect, they were the featured backdrop for three seasons of Survivor. In the midst of these emerald green waters and pristine beaches, you’ll find an unlikely sliver of eeriness wedged into paradise.
Hotel Contadora Resort, once bustling with prominent guests enjoying beach-front rooms, multiple restaurants, pools, and a casino, sits dilapidated and abandoned on Contadora Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Pearl archipelago. While the island’s miniscule 1.2 square km terrain plays host to sun worshippers, the largest beach, Playa Larga, remains the most secluded with the ruins of Hotel Contadora Resort looming right on the shore.
The once posh resort attracted the likes of Sofia Loren, the Kennedy family, Elizabeth Taylor and Panamanian elite. It fell into ruins after its owner Carlos Arango, a Colombian businessman, died in a private plane crash in Panama and left well over $10,000,000 in debt. The resort shuttered its doors shortly afterwards.
What remains is a ransacked and vandalized shell of a resort. Glimpses of its former glory can still be seen.
Also adding to the ghost-town feel of Playa Larga is an abandoned ferry, Las Perlas 7, once used to taxi resort guests back and forth from the Panamanian mainland to Contadora Island. The Soviet-built ferry rests beached just in front of Hotel Contadora Resort. The interior is completely stripped and vandalized.