In Pre-Columbian times, Las Perlas Islands were ruled by an Indian king whose
main occupation was pearl-diving. Pearls were then used as ornament and to trade with. Most
pearls in the world were collected in these waters.
Las Perlas Islands arose the greed of the Spaniards. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who discovered and gave name to 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,
Las Perlas Island sheltered famous pirates of different nationalities, that for several centuries looted the wealthy Spanish settlements and fleet.
San Jose is the second largest of
Las Perlas Islands, with 44 sq. kilometers, located in the middle of the Gulf of Panama and just 90 kilometers away from Panama City. It can be reached by boat in approximately 3 hours, and by propeller plane in 20 minutes.
Over 35 splendorous white coral, ebony black and radiant gold beaches and coves surround San Jose, embedded between the temperate and calm turquoise and blue waters of the Gulf of Panama, and the lush green vegetation that covers the whole island over gently sloping hills which peak, at the north of the island, to 440 feet.
The coast line is very irregular, affording many anchorage locations, being the best, Bodega Bay, on the west, one mile in length, and half a mile wide.
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 coast line. 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.
San Jose is irrigated by many rivers and springs, the main ones flowing steadily year-round, providing for abundant pure, fresh waters. Some sites along these steams can be utilized to install power plants. Several waterfalls, up to 60 feet high, and natural caves, further enhance the beauty of the island.
The climate of the island is typically with a rainy season from May to November, and dry season from December to April. The temperature ranges between a minimum of 65ºF, with a average of 79ºF.
Also, there are no hurricanes, as opposed to the Caribbean; nor earthquakes to worry about.
Wildlife is abundant and consistent with the rich vegetation and the profusion of water, with a population of over 3,000 wild pigs, and large quantities of deer, agoutis, parrot and giant
The waters of San Jose abound in tropical game fish, and are considered-among the best 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. Sailfish, amberjack, bonito, wahoo, dolphin, corbin, red snapper, tuna and macarel, as well as marine turtle, shrimp giant oysters, clams and mussels make this a paradise for fishermen and divers.