PANAMá  |  Panamá City, Panamá Travel Guide
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Calzada de Amador

Calzada de Amador (Amador Causeway)

Alongside the Panama Canal entrance, the causeway stretches 1.5 miles/ 2.5 kilometers into the Pacific, connecting the mainland’s peninsular Amador neighborhood to Culebra, Naos, Perico and Flamenco islands. Strategic to protecting the canal’s entrance, this stunningly beautiful area has been occupied since 1919 by military installations, beginning with the US military’s Fort Grant and later Fort Amador until 1979. During the 1980s, it was occupied by the now disbanded Panamanian military. It 1996, it reverted to Panamá under the terms of the Carter-Torrijos Treaty and is now developing into Panamá City’s most attractive recreational area.

Heading toward the causeway on Calle Amador, you’ll pass a new Country Inn and Suites, and a row of buildings transformed from military use to ultra-exclusive shopping pods. The huge complex on the right is the Panama Canal Village, a mega-luxury facility with condos, five-star resort, spas, casinos, shopping and entertainment complexes. One of the massive buildings is a new convention center, completed only days before hosting the June 2003 Miss Universe Pageant. The Pencas Restaurant here serves good food along with lovely views from its half-moon-shaped second-story dining balcony. Downstairs, Moses Bicycle rents bikes ($2.10 per hour) and in-line skates for cruising the causeway.

Watch for the entrance to the Centro de Exhibiciones Marinas (Marine Exhibition Center) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI). It’s on Culebra island on the right. If you’ve ever wanted to stroke a neon-orange starfish or a wiggly little octopus, this is the place to get your hands on these critters. STRI’s fascinating exhibits emphasize preservation. There are aquariums of Atlantic and Pacific marine species, a couple of small reptiles and an excellent display that traces the isthmus’s natural and human history from the time of its formation. Three of the large buildings here were once military bunkers and a machine shop, and a small six-sided building with huge windows and sweeping sea views was built by Noriega for his most “intimate” entertaining. It now houses displays. Beyond the open-air marine exhibit you’ll find oversize illustrations of sea-going vessels, and a huge telescope you can use to identify the ships lined up at the canal entrance. The lovely trees lining the shores along the pathway to the exhibits are Central America’s largest remaining tracts of Pacific Dry Forest. Signs are posted to identify each tree and, if you look closely into the branches, you might see iguanas and a sloth or two up there with the birds.

There’s a new ScubaPanama dive shop along the causeway, and Mi Ranchito, a long established open-air restaurant recently moved to this location. The last island, Flamenco, was formerly a US military command post. In the 1940s, the US military bored a tunnel all the way through this solid rock island to create an impervious shelter. No one is telling what may have been stored in the huge tunnel with railway tracks running through it, but there’s a strong suspicion that it may have been bombs. The tunnel is still there, beneath the new Fuerte Amador Resort and Marina, a popular new complex with a cruise port, Panamá’s first full-service marina, duty-free and upscale shopping arcades, restaurants, outdoor bistros and lounges.With all the attractions you’ll find here, you may want to spend the day. Two five-star hotels and a casino are planned, one of them at the island’s top, where sweeping views are nothing less than fantastic.

Last updated November 26, 2007
Posted in   Panamá  |  Panamá City
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