Isla Contadora (Counting House Island) was once the accounting center for pearls before they were shipped to Spain. In more recent times, multimillionaires have made the island their refuge; when ousted Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi fled Iran in 1979, he removed his large fortune to Isla Contadora. However, a government crackdown on tax evasion is embittering the previously sweet deal. Many empty mansions are abandoned or rented to vacationers.
With frequent air and sea connections to Panama City, Isla Contadora is the only island in the archipelago with a developed tourist infrastructure. A prestigious destination, it caters to its wealthy residents and moneyed visitors from the mainland. In low season it's more accessible for all. Beaches are spectacular, the snorkeling is excellent and the island is a great jumping-off point for independent exploration of the archipelago.