The City of Colon and the Colon Container Terminal are not a popular tourist destination, yet the area has many beautiful beaches, historic sites, and many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors.
Portobelo, a little over 30 kilometers to the northeast of the Colon Container Terminal, is a beautiful bayside town that contains the ruins of five Spanish forts and a Spanish treasure house that was a center for shipping Peruvian gold and other Latin American treasures back to Spain. When Sir Francis Drake and other English pirates arrived, they looted the town’s treasures and brought about its decline. Drake was buried in a lead coffin near Portobelo. Today, the Portbelo ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
An hour’s drive from the Colon Container Terminal is Isla Grande, Panama’s most popular island vacation location. With a glorious beach, its clear waters are great for diving, snorkeling, surfing, boat-riding, and simply relaxing in the golden sunshine. The island has a wide range of accommodations and many waterfront restaurants and bars that make vacationing a truly relaxing experience.
Located at the mouth of the Chagres River on Limon Bay, Fort San Lorenzo was built at the 1595 order of King Philip II of Spain in to protect the passageway to Panama City. With a wonderful view of the river’s mouth and the sea, the fort was attacked by pirate Henry Morgan in the 1670s who destroyed the first wooden fort and killed its defenders. Today’s ruins replaced the earlier structure. The fort was a key military outpost and, after that, a prison until Panama won independence from Spain in 1821. Today, Fort San Lorenzo is a national park in a protected natural area, although it is not well-maintained. Guides are recommended, since there are few signs or tourist information. This is a wonderful place to wander and imagine 400 years of history.
When Canopy Tours began, they were designed for scientists who wanted to study the biodiversity of the forest canopy. Today, several canopy tour companies operate in the Panamanian Atlantic coast. The Canopy Rio Piedras is about an hour from Colon. You swing through the trees, made safe with rigging and gear, between platforms more than 100 feet off the ground. Appropriately called an adrenaline-line factory, the tour is not for the faint of heart, but it is definitely an adventure. You can also enjoy hiking trails and river tubing at the site which is on the way to Portobelo.
Travelers who want to see Colon and the Colon Container Terminal as well as eastern Panama can find a list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.