With its colonial grandeur crumbling and its neighborhoods marginalized, Colón is the city that Panama forgot, in spite of vigorous development meant to court Caribbean cruise ships. Prior to 1869, the railroad connecting Panama City and Colón was the only rapid transit across the continental Western Hemisphere.
Palm trees and white-sand beaches form the backdrop to this lovely little island, just 15km from Portobelo. A popular getaway for Panama City folk fleeing the urban grind, Isla Grande is an ideal setting for snorkeling, scuba diving or simply soaking up the island’s relaxed vibe. There are no roads, just a path along the eastern island perimeter.
Parque Nacional San Lorenzo
Centered on the ruins of the crumbling Spanish colonial fortress of Fuerte San Lorenzo, the 9.6-sq-km Parque Nacional San Lorenzo includes the former US military base of Fuerte Sherman, as well as 12 different ecosystems including mangroves, marshlands, semi-deciduous forests and humid rainforests.
Located 6km before La Guayra, this snoozy village has a protected bay increasingly favored by sailboats voyaging to the San Blás or Cartagena, Colombia. Excursions to the nearby Isla Mamey visit a beautiful beach and surrounding mangroves. If you are deciding between Mamey and Isla Grande, this may be a better choice, particularly on crowded high-season weekends.