The Panama Canal Port is best known for the Panama Canal itself, which stretches for 80 km from the edge of Panama City to the Caribbean port of Colon. One could easily plan an entire vacation on Central Panama with its beaches, reefs, islands, mountains and rain forests.
Average temperatures year round range from the high 70’s to mid 80’s. The most difficult thing to get used to is the constant humidity. July through November has the most humidity. Rainfall is generally steady throughout November, when the port averages 22 inches.
The Panama Canal port of call has long been popular among international travelers since it's duty free. You can purchase an amazing array of luxury items from all over the planet for about a third the normal price. MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted, but to avoid exchange rate charges, travelers are encouraged to use dollar based Traveler's Cheques.
For a shopping mall experience in Panama, try the Centro Artesanal de Coronado, which consists of several small shops similar to what you'll find in a typical Panamanian village. Each of the buildings hold several small boutiques selling many handmade crafts, such as the famous Panama hat that comes rolled up in a small box.
Things to Do
The big tourist draw hands down is the Panama Canal, located to the west of Panama City. You can choose to take a train or a bus ride that follows the 80 km canal, or take a cruise on the canal itself which most people prefer. The canal was completed in 1914 and takes about 8 hours to fully navigate. The U.S. has partial control of the canal since it was made and remained in U.S. territory up until 1999. There is a new Panama Canal Museum now open. It's located in the Casco Viejo area.
You also won't want to miss the largest man-made lake in the world, Gatun Lake, which was created during the canal’s construction. The largest island is Barro Colorado, which is a biological reserve operated by the Smithsonian’s Tropical Research Institute.
Restaurants and Bars
The Panama Canal cruise port has a wide variety of nightlife both in and around the famed canal, and East of the canal in Panama City. You will find a handful of nightclubs, casinos, theatre, dance clubs and cinemas.
Melia Panama Canal Piano Bar is a classy place to relax with a cocktail before dinner and appetizer. Dress is semi-formal but the bar staff is friendly and laid back. They also serve a fine variety of spirits.
There are two restaurants in particular you should definitely visit. Both are classy and everything one would expect for a superior fine dining experience. Darien Restaurant is a popular new establishment known for its fine international cuts of beef and is a top notch steakhouse. Restaurante Miraflores is the second choice, and offers a wide selection of a la carte international dishes from all over the world.