The Eastern terminus of the Panama Canal is primarily a commercial port on the Caribbean Sea. Colon's port does have a small shopping village with a grocery store, shops, and a few restaurants where cruise passengers and crew can have a meal and access to Wi-Fi. Most passengers will take charter buses inland for tours of the nearby rainforests, lakes, and Monkey Island.
What We Love
Miraflores Locks: Worth a visit to see up close just how those massive cargo ships make their way through the canal. Watch as the locomotives ("mules") tie up and guide the ships through the tight squeeze. There is also a visitors center with an interactive museum.
Ship Watching: Though the views from your cruise ship mostly include large cranes and other industrial workings, you also have a cool vantage point of what is essentially the westbound on-ramp for the Panama Canal. Hundreds of ships of all shapes, colors, and sizes queue up, making for a dazzling array of photo ops.
Best Known For
Gatun Lake: The artificial lake is a key to making the canal work, and is also a fantastic recreation area surrounded by protected parklands. Take a kayak tour around the lake or go on a tour of Monkey Island, home to four species.
Panama Canal Railway: Shared by commuters, tourists, and cargo, the train traces a scenic route along the canal from Colon to Panama City, the nation's capital. The route also passes through rainforests, and the train features a viewing platform.
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Who It's Best For
World Wonder Watchers: You've heard about the Panama Canal, but you get to really appreciate the scope of the engineering feat that was accomplished more than a century ago by visiting the locks and seeing the waterway in use.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
It Rains ... A Lot: Even if you don't get the typical afternoon drenching, the humidity will feel as if the skies are about to open up. Be prepared with an umbrella or rain slicker just in case.
John Roberts is a New Jersey-based writer for ShermansCruise who worked at The Virginian-Pilot.