Colon – Gamboa
Colon Province extends along the Caribbean coast of Panama on it’s northern side, and Panama Province and Cocle Province along the southern side. The capital of Colon province is Colon city, which is located at the entrance to the Panama Canal on the Caribbean side. Colon city includes a new cruise ship terminal, and is also famous for it’s Free Zone. The city of Colon remains essentially an industrial area with few tourist attractions, but renovations have been undertaken and some of Colon’s most notable architecture has already been restored.
The province of Colon is also famous for the port city of Portobelo, which was named by Christopher Columbus in 1502. The name Portobelo means “beautiful harbor”, and the city has a rich cultural and historical background. There are two Spanish forts to visit in Portobelo, The Fort of San Lorenzo and the Santiago de Gloria Fort. Portobelo National Park also lies within Colon Province, approximately 1 ½ hours from Panama City.
There are not many major islands in the province of Colon, but one smaller island worth visiting is Isla Grande. It is about 30 minutes from Portobelo, and two hours by car from Panama City. The island does not have beaches as large and spectacular as the San Blas Islands, but remains attractive due to the surrounding lush mountains, clear water and friendly locals. Isla Grande is mostly undeveloped and relatively undiscovered by tourists, but it does have many small restaurants, bars, markets and street vendors. You can also secure tour guides for snorkeling, diving or sightseeing trips to other islands nearby.