Destinations - Things to Do
Isla Grande, just 1.5 - 2 hours from Panama City, currently serves as weekend destination for urban Panamanians and tourists alike. While its beaches are not as spectacular as those found in Bocas del Toro or San Blas, the verdant green mountains, crystal clear water and Caribbean style atmosphere are inviting and still relatively undiscovered. The island's couple of hundred inhabitants make a living from fishing and growing coconuts, in addition to servicing the hundreds of visitors that have come to enjoy the island's natural beauty. There are no roads on the island, in fact, most of the island is inaccessible. Rather, the town itself is spread along the island's beach front, which on foot can be covered in just a few minutes. A well defined path stretches from the public beach on the far left to the far right side. Numerous small eateries, bars, markets and street vendors line the town's walkway. For those seeking accommodations, there are many fairly basic but comfortable cabins that reside just off the main path.
It's possible to hire boats for snorkeling, diving and sightseeing trips to nearby islands. Overall, Isla Grande is a peaceful place to spend a couple of days swimming, snorkeling, swinging in a hammock, eating seafood and enjoying the tropical climate.
The ruins in Portobelo, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, are dispersed over quite a large area, complete with cannons and stone walls, some in surprisingly good shape.
The first set, straddling the main road just as you enter into town, overlooks the Bay of Portobelo and is a terrific place to start. A large row of cannons line the left wall, and to the right a large open courtyard. Just off the right side of the road, nearly in front of the ruins, is a path that leads to the top of an adjacent hill, where wonderful views of the ruins and nearby town can be appreciated.
Further up the road, off to the left and just behind the customs house, is another section of ruins. Extending out into the Bay of Portobelo, there's a long row of cannons to your left that run the full length of the ruins, and to the right an open courtyard.
Just across the bay, and divided into three distinct parts, you'll find additional ruins worth visiting. There is stone trail that leads from the lowest fort, which resides along the water's edge, to the middle one, which is rather close and can be see from the lower section. It's an easy, short walk along a stone trail. To visit the third and highest fort, you'll have to hike along a wide, steep trail. The upper fort has no views of the lower sections, but has stunning views of Portobelo and surrounding areas. In order to visit these particular ruins you'll need to take a water taxi, which can be hired at the dock that resides just after the first set of ruins you encounter as you are entering into the town of Portobelo.
Fort San Lorenzo Ruins
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the San Lorenzo ruins are perched high on a cliff overlooking the Chagres River, offering spectacular views of the entire coastline. While smaller in size than the ruins at Portobelo, San Lorenzo is different in that it has numerous caverns on the lower level which you can explore.
The San Lorenzo ruins are located inside a National Park, which contains numerous walking trails. If you wish to view the Chagres River, turn left at the intersection just before reaching the ruins and follow this road downhill to the water's edge.
- Hours: Mon. - Sat. 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. | Sunday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
- Cost: Adults - $5.00 | Students (with ID) - $1.00
Come and explore Panama’s largest walk through aviary, over 100 feet long with over twenty different species from the hummingbird to the toucan and many more. Experience the life cycle of butterflies in our butterfly enclosure, one of 20 different enclosures in the park. As you walk through the park, gaze at all the different plants and trees providing fruits and shade for all the different animals, from the capybara to the howler monkeys. Discover Panama’s wildlife through your five senses. Let the sound of the birds be music to your ears. Let the sight of so many vibrant colors brighten your day. Let the aroma of the lemon and mango trees remind you of a tropical zest. Feel the touch of a spider monkeys hand. Best of all, tell your friends and families about the majestic experience that Safarick’s Zoologico has to offer.
- Tel: 435-6900
- Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Closed Tues. & Wed.)