What To Do
What To Do in Colon, Panama:
A picturesque bayside town of with the ruins of 5 Spanish forts and a Spanish Colonial treasure house (the Aduana Real) which was restored by the Spanish Government in 1998. In Spanish colonial times the Portobelo Treasure House was the center for trans-shipment of all the Peruvian gold and treasure taken from Latin America to Spain. Spanish galleons came and went constantly and many fairs were held.
That ended with the arrival of English pirates like Sir Francis Drake who repeatedly looted Portobelo's treasures and brought about its eventual demise. The Portobelo Ruins are a pilar of Spanish colonial times, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sir Francis Drake was buried in a lead coffin off Portobelo. Read more:.
The Customs Building:
Also located in the town of Portobelo, this colonial building is the old headquarters of the Spanish customs offices when they were importing African slaves into the New World. It is now a museum - a dedication to the thousands of Black immigrants who are an important element of Panamanian culture and constitute the majority of the population of Portobelo and Colón.
The Black Christ Church and Museum:
Also at the town of Portobelo. Previously the San Juan de Dios (St. John of God) Catholic Church, this museum is dedicated to Portobelo's patron saint. It displays a plethora of robes and religious paraphenalia belonging to the statue of the Black Christ, which is surrounded by many myths. It resides in Portobelo's San Felipe Church and honored in a great festival on October 21st. Read more:
A small island about an hours drive from Colón, is a must visit, even if you dont go to the Island itself, just the drive up to Isla Grande is worth it. The Island itself is about 5 minutes boat ride from the small village of La Guayra. Lush verdant landscape, crystal clear waters, and a laid-back Caribbean atmosphere, friendly locals make Isla Grande Panama's most popular island vacation spot. Isla Grande offers the visitor snorkeling, diving, surfing, jet-ski, boatrides, banana boats, and relaxation. Numerous inexpensive cabins, as well as larger, more expensive hotels cater to all. The islands waterfront restaurants and bars make for a peaceful and worthwhile visit.
Fort San Lorenzo:
A well preserved fort ruin perched high on a stunning promotory above the Chagres River as it meets the sea. Sir Henry Morgan attacked the fort and made away with booty in 1666. It is essential to go with a tour operator since to date this unusual site has no signs or tourist info of any kind. The breathtaking view of the crystal blue Carribean water, is a treat in itself. But throw in the well-maintained fort and you can just feel the history. Visiting this place, one can see why the Spanish wanted to set up fort here. Read more:
Ride on the Historic Panama Railroad:
Ocean to Ocean in only 2 hours -
Yes, only in Panama can you go from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast - in about one hour and find yourself in an idyllic Caribbean setting. Colón lies less than an hour by road from Panama City, or by the luxurious Historical Panama Canal Railway. This is an amazing trip. The train leaves the terminal in Corozal at 7.15 a.m. and arrives in Colon at 8:15 a.m.. It returns from Colon at 5:15 p.m., arriving in Panama City at 6:15 p.m. A return ticket costs $35, a one way ticket costs $20, which is steep, but well worth it. The views of Gatun Lake, the Panama Canal, and the rainforests are beautiful. The train is a beautifully restored locomotive complete with a splendid observation car. On the trip, which lasts about one hour fifteen minutes, a complimentary snack box is served.
The Gatun Locks:
That makes Gatún Locks absolutely massive and a very impressive sight, a little less than a mile (more than 1.5 kilometers) from end to end. A couple of observation platforms give an excellent view of the locks, the Caribbean entrance to the canal, and Lago Gatún. There is also a small scale model of the entire canal.
The locks are open to visitors 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. seven days a week.
Nearby is the well maintained town of Gatun. A visit will give a taste of what life in the old Canal Zone looked like.
Colón 2000 is a state of the art cruise port with a duty free shopping complex. It is becoming one of the most popular cruise ship destinations in the Caribbean, recieving upwards of 70 ships per year.
There is a nice Yatch Club in Colón. the Panama Canal Yacht Club, a new Yacht Club, Shelter Bay Marina is located on the site of Fort Sherman. In the town of Portobelo, the bay is dotted with yachts. Portobelo is a favorite place for international yachters, many of whom set down anchor and make the area a second home.
Of course you must know this by now, the Atlantic coast of Panama has no tides, so the beaches in Colón are safe, with white sand. The best beaches in the whole country are in Colón, the most famous being Playa La Angosta, on Sundays, people come all the way from Panama City in busloads to swim at this popular beach.