Punta Culebra on the Causeway

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Eco-adventures on a tropical island in the city

By Marijulia Pujol Lloyd

One of Punta Culebra’s best-kept secrets is a sandy cove that faces the Canal.

One of Punta Culebra’s best-kept secrets is a sandy cove that faces the Canal.

The Amador Causeway has lots to offer and beautiful views of the city and the Canal, but the most educational attraction there is the Punta Culebra Nature Center, an open-air museum focusing mainly on marine science, conservation and the interpretation of marine coastal environments.

Punta Culebra was Panama City’s port during colonial times. It is the only protected semi-natural harbor on the Amador Causeway and is operated by Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). The museum occupies a territory of approximately 1 1/2 hectares, with surprises at every turn.

For a nominal fee, visitors can see exhibits on Panama’s abundance of fish, experience an underwater sensory project, or see turtles and sharks. All the exhibits are bilingual.

Take a walk

A two-toed sloth at Punta Culebra.

A two-toed sloth at Punta Culebra.

Two trails lead explorers through a tropical dry forest, an ecosystem in danger of extinction on the Pacific side of Central America. This forest is a refuge and habitat for raccoons, iguanas, birds of all kinds and armadillos.

The rocky shore, the sandy beach and a patch of white mangrove forest have plenty of marine life which is best seen during low tide. A guide can accompany you during the tour and will answer all your questions about the ecosystem, the animals and plants found as well as give details on the history of the place.

Young visitors to Punta Culebra take in the turtle exhibit.

Young visitors to Punta Culebra take in the turtle exhibit.

Punta Culebra is located entering to the right at the Mi Ranchito Restaurant on the Causeway. It opens Tuesday to Friday: 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Entrance prices: $5 – $1.50

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