When visiting Panama City, the famous Panama Canal is a must see. You can take one of several boat tours that will take you through the lock, provide you with fascinating facts and lunch. These tours will set you back upwards of $100.00. For a family on a budget such a venture, although well worth it, could easily break the bank. What to do? Take your family and canal questions to the Miraflores Visitors Center.
Your first stop should be the observation deck to watch the magic of boats and ships gliding majetically from Atlantic to Pacific and vice versa. From this vantage point, you can look across two of the Miraflores Locks on the Pacific side of the isthmus.
A well-informed and entertaining narrator will dispense facts and anecdotes in Spanish and English as you wait for water in the lock chambers to your right and left to achieve the same level. At this point, the lock gate will open and the waiting ship then enters the next chamber.
When you’ve had your fill of watching the ships, the center’s museum will keep your senses busy and engaged. The museum is comprised of four exhibition halls. Each of which has its own separate theme: “The History Hall”, “The Hall of Water”, “The Canal in the World” and “The Canal in Action”. Most of the exhibits are behind glass, but a model, complete with water, of the locks will provide a clear picture of how the Canal operates. There is also an expertly produced film that will surround you with images of the canal in its various lights.
Tickets cost $15.00 for adults and $10.00 for children ages 6 to 12, if you are a non-resident. If you’re a Panamanian or full-time resident, you pay $6.00 for adults, $3.00 for children and $1.50 for retirees.