Located on the north shore of Panama on the Caribbean Ocean, the town of Colon is only about 150 years old, but just outside of the town are many reminders of Panama’s rich history. This includes Fuerte San Lorenzo, or Fort San Lorenzo. Built on the mouth of the Chagres River, this fortified outpost was used by the Spanish during the height of their empire to guard the mouth of this important river. It was meant to protect Panama City on the south coast of the isthmus from an overland invasion, but British privateer Sir Henry Morgan managed to bypass the fort and sacked the city anyway! Today visitors shouldn’t bypass the fort, as the old walls and barricades have withstood the test of time, and the harsh sun and intense humidity. The fort is open daily.

The nearby town of Portobelo was one of the richest towns in New Spain, but numerous attacks by rival powers have left only ruins. Free to visitors, the site offers numerous artifacts that can be seen up close. Located about 40 minutes outside of Colon the former town makes for an impressive sight, complete with a colonial era church, and the old Spanish Customs Building that now serves as a museum of antiquity.

And while most visitors typically see the locks near Panama City, the Gatun Locks are on the only ones on the Atlantic Side, near the shores of Lake Gatun. This massive locks can be seen from the single-lane highway that cross via an underpass!

Closer to Colon is the small Isla Grande. Not as grand as the name suggests, this island is idea for a day in the sun, with white sandy beaches and clear blue waters.