Three Ways to Enjoy the Panama Canal

Centro de Visitantes de Miraflores.

This post is also available in: Spanish

Three Ways to Enjoy the Panama Canal. Not surprisingly, the Panama Canal is the country’s most visited tourist attraction. There are many ways to take in this engineering marvel. Here are the top three.

Esclusas de Agua Clara, Gatún.

Esclusas de Agua Clara, Gatún.

Observing the expansion

The billion-dollar expansion of the Panama Canal is one of the greatest mega-projects taking place in the world today. The best place to observe the action is at the lookout over the Canal on the Atlantic side. The Agua Clara Observation Center affords a great view of how it is taking shape. The Center overlooks the new “Great Dig” and is perched 50 meters above the site where visitors can enjoy a privileged and unobstructed view while in the shade. Gatún Lake provides a perfect backdrop.

For directions to the Center, its hours and rates, call 443-5727 or go to MiCanaldePanama.com

Centro de Observación de Santa Clara.

Centro de Observación de Santa Clara.

Much ado about Miraflores

The Miraflores Visitors’ Center, on the Pacific side of the Canal, still offers the most options for tourists to enjoy. A new addition to the experience includes a 3D theatre where visitors can take a virtual tour through the Canal. The lock-front observation deck, gourmet restaurant, museum, interactive displays and gift shop at Miraflores brings in more visitors than any other tourist destination in the country.

To plan your trip and obtain information on rates and hours, go to visit canaldepanama.com.

Three Ways to Enjoy the Panama Canal

Three Ways to Enjoy the Panama Canal: Gatún locks.

Three Ways to Enjoy the Panama Canal: Take a tour

Tour companies, or hop-on, hop-off buses will take you to Miraflores Locks to watch huge ships being raised or lowered 54 feet to the next stage of their journey, Pacific or Atlantic bound.

There is a magnificent Visitors’ Center and Canal Museum here which has been recently remodeled. Bilingual commentators will give you a running commentary. You will drive through the residential area, see the Administration Building and the Bridge of the Americas which spans the Canal and joins South America to Central and North America. For information as to when there will be ships in the locks each day call the Orientation Service at Miraflores, 276-8617.

Centro de Visitantes de Miraflores.

Centro de Visitantes de Miraflores.

For visitors who prefer a more relaxed approach to sightseeing there is the Miraflores restaurant in the Visitors’ Center which offers a spectacular view of the transiting ships as you dine. A film of the Canal’s operations is shown in the theater of the Visitors’ Center.

The Gatún Locks on the Atlantic side of the Canal also have comfortable viewing and bilingual commentators. A new observations center for viewing work on the Canal expansion is located close by. A partial transit offers a first-hand view of the Canal in operation. Call Canal & Bay Tours 209-2010 or Pacific Adventures 908-8031.

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