On the Caribbean coast of Middle America in Panama there are plenty of sights and unique places that are sure to please history fans and all who appreciate the treasures of the past.
Pristine Caribbean coast beaches are an added bonus and can be found in the province of Colon near Portobelo, which was founded in the 16th century and known as a port for exporting silver to Spain.
The British presence in this part of Panama’s Caribbean coast is evident with such commemorative London locations as Portobelo Road, which gets its name from the older Panama town. Portobelo Panama is a small, slow-paced community of about 3,000 people. The old fort, which was established in 1502 by none other than Christopher Columbus, has been named a World Heritage Site. It was once the premier Atlantic port in the Spanish New World.
Iglesia de San Felipe Church
Perhaps the most popular destination on the Panama Caribbean coast is Iglesia de San Felipe, the church known around the world for the life-size Black Christ (Nazareno of Portobelo). The statue showing Christ carrying a cross is moved to the church center during the Black Christ Festival. Closely associated with the effigy and the festival is the museum that displays dozens of robes donated for the festival. Some of these treasured items have been in use for more than a century. The story surrounding this icon puts the date of arrival in Portobelo at about 1658.
The seaport of Colon on the Caribbean coast of Panama is near the entrance to the Panama Canal, one of the most ambitious and important construction projects ever undertaken. Colon is often referred to as a second city in Panama, behind the major metropolis – Panama City. The city of Colon now incorporates several towns and a former United States Army base.
Unlike some of the old towns of Panama, Colon is relatively new. It was established in 1850 by U.S. leaders and construction crews, to be used as the Atlantic terminal for railroad service. Colon was first established on Manzanillo Island and was connected to Panama by a specially built causeway. The streets of Colon were often lined by balconied, multi-story buildings that housed theaters, night clubs, dance halls, etc. Because the railroad and the Panama Canal construction no longer energize its economy, Colon is not as vibrant as it once was but the Colonial influence and ambience of this unique Caribbean coast city continues to draw tourists from around the globe.
Caribbean Coast Beaches
With all of the Spanish history and interest generated by the Panama Canal, it might seem that this Central American country would be ignored as an outdoor-activity spot. But Panama’s Caribbean coast beaches host world class resorts and are popular with surfers and with those who simply want to relax in the sun. Lush tropical rainforests come right down to the water’s edge in some places, while palm trees frame the soft sand elsewhere.
Panama’s Caribbean coast attracts travellers to many other beautiful locations such as the San Blas Islands and Bocas del Toro. The islands are popular as snorkelling spots because of the varied fish populations and the visible shipwreck. Sailing and fishing tours are also available in the Bocas del Toro area. The towns on both sides of the canal are perfect bases for viewing the ships using this gateway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
Caribbean Coast Panama All Inclusive Tours
Exploring Panama’s Caribbean coast is part of Caravan Tours’ all inclusive Panama Tours, which also includes a rainforest jungle cruise up the Piedras River to visit an authentic Embera Indian Village. These are cheap, exceptionally priced fully escorted 9-day tours, starting at just $1,195.
Along with a tour of Panama’s Caribbean coast, visitors get to visit Playa Blanca, Casco Viejo, Panama City and Amador Island on the Pacific coast. Visit Panama Tours Reservations to check tour availability.