The last province I would like to introduce to you is the province of Colon, located only two hours from Panama City on the carribean coast. It offers a wide variety of things to do and see: beautiful beaches and islands, interesting historical sites and the largest Free Trade Zone outside Hong Kong! Also, it has become a famous destination for cruise ships throughout the last years.The city of Colon is a poor city, and because of the high crime rate you should avoid stopping there. The Free Zone is worth a visit though.

The Free Zone

As already mentioned, the Free Zone is the second largest in the world, which means there are 2,500 companies operating within 450 hectares and, on top of that, the best geographically located. It has the most efficient and fastest distribution facilities and is served by 5 major ports, all located within 5 kilometers! The Free Zone handles more than US$16 billion in imports and reexports every year and it employs about 28,000 workers, all biligually trained. You can imagine what a great importance that is to the Panamenian economy! The major imports come from Asia, Europe and North America and the major markets include Central, South and North America. So to all of you that love shopping, you know where to go!

On the way up the coast to Portobelo you will find beautiful carribean beaches, where you can go surfing or make jungle tours to explore the fascinating nature. Also you have the opportunity to take a boat to one of the nice snorkeling places along the coast. Or stay a couple of days in Isla Grande, an tropical island in the carribean sea with nice resorts and luxury hotels.


The treasure house
This town has a great historical value to the country. You can find 5 ruins of ancient Spanish forts and a restored colonial treasure house here. In colonial times, all the peruvian gold and treasure taken from Latin America passed through the treasure house, before it was shipped to Spain. Because of all this money movement, the town was very alive and a lot of fairs took place there. The end of the towns wealth came with the arrival of the English pirate Sir Francis Drake, who plundered the ports constantly.

Today, the town is a remind of the colonial period and an UNESCO world heritage site. Located in the town, you find the Customs Building. It used to be the old spanish headquaters of the custom offices, when they were bringing all the African slaves to America. Today it is a museum, dedicated to the thousands of Black immigrants that make up the main population of Portobelo and Colon. Many tourists come to see this place and some decide to make it a second home on their yachts!

Fort San Lorenzo

Fort San Lorenzo is a world heritage site aswell, situated high above the mouth of the Chagres river, next to the National Park. There are no signs of how to get there, so it is better to go with a tour guide to explore the ancient ruins. While driving to the thick jungle to get to the fort, the guide can explain you a lot about the nature and the tropical animals you might see. The University of Florida and the Smithsonian Institute for Tropical research have field stations in this area.

Curious about Colon? It is quite easy to get here, just take a bus from the Albrook terminal in Panama City to Colon, which is around 2 dollars, and then take one in Colon to Portobelo for 1,50 dollars. Another way is to take the train. It has special viewing platforms and costs 38 dollars the round-trip. If you have a car just take the highway and you will be there in about two hours, half an hour longer if you drive up until Isla Grande!