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panama travel and tourism

Agua Clara Visitor Center

agua clara visitor center, the panama canal

The Agua Clara Visitor Center is the canal’s newest visitor center and the only place on the canal offering panoramic views of Gatun Lake. It's also the only place where you'll get a look at the new set of locks, which were inaugurated on June 26, 2016. Open and spacious, the center is perched high on a hilltop, overlooking the southern entrance to Agua Clara Locks, and consists of a projection room, gift shop, two large viewing areas, and a .6 mile (1 km) hiking trail.

the Agua clara visitor center's front entrance

The Visitor Center consists of three viewing areas. The primary platform, which resides at the back, overlooks the locks and offers the best views of the chambers, control tower, and Atlantic Bridge. To the left are two additional viewing areas, which are open and provide better views of the anchorage and Gatun Lake.

Vessels entering into and departing from Agua Clara Locks pass in front, so you get a close-up view of these monstrous vessels and the tugboats accompanying them; the largest ships that transit the Canal pass through Agua Clara Locks. The southmost set of chamber doors is visible, which you can watch open and close as the vessels enter and depart from the lock chamber. To the right, you will see the immense control tower, two adjacent lock chambers, and the newly-built Atlantic Bridge. Depending on your arrival time, you might see multiple vessels in the locks simultaneously. Gatun Locks, the adjacent set of locks, is visible in the distance, though it is quite a long way away and challenging to discern. In front and off to the left is the anchorage, where you’ll see numerous vessels anchored. The anchorage is a designated area where vessels wait before recommencing transit.

The Agua Clara Visitor Center is very different than its older sibling at Miraflores Locks. At Miraflores, you are physically much closer to the locks but denied the expansive views of Gatun Lake. In addition, the Agua Clara Visitor Center is almost entirely outdoors, aside from the gift shop and projection room, whereas the Miraflores Visitor Center consists of two large, enclosed buildings.

To view more pictures of the Agua Clara Visitor Center and Agua Clara Locks, we invite you to look through our photo gallery.

For more information about the Agua Clara Visitor Center, we recommend you visit their website.

a view of the two northernmost chambers of the agua clara locks from the Agua Clara Visitor Center
a panama canal tugboat inside one of the chambers at Agua Clara Locks
a southboard vessel departing from Agua Clara Locks as seen from the Agua Clara Visitor Center
a vessel positioned at the panama canal anchorage near to Agua Clara Locks
a tugboat departing from the agua clara locks in the panama canal
a tugboat towing a commercial vessel as it departs from the agua clara locks in the panama canal
a view of the spacious grounds inside the agua clara visitor center. There are plenty of seats, and even a small area for children to play
a view of the seating area inside the agua clara visitor center. Lots of space and greenery.

There is roofing, under which you can shelter if it rains or if you want to step out of the sun, but most of the viewing platform/area is open. Ample seating is available, and there is a small playground for children.

a view of a commerical vessel inside the southernmost chamber of Agua Clara Locks, in the Panama Canal.

Unfortunately, a long, metal security fence runs along and in front of the viewing platform, partially obstructing your view of the locks and vessels below. I found it annoying, as did everyone else taking pictures and recording video. To get a clear, unobstructed view, you will need to position yourself at either end of the platform where the ground is higher. Not surprisingly, visitors tend to congregate in these areas for just that reason.

as seen from the agua clara visitor center, a commercial vessel and tugboat departing from agua clara locks.

Getting to the Agua Clara Visitor Center

Google Map - Agua Clara Visitor Center Google Map - Colon Bus Terminal

There are no public buses that service the Agua Clara Visitor Center, so you must arrange transportation. From the city of Colon, the official taxi rate is $6.00, though you will have to pay extra for each additional passenger. It takes just 15-20 minutes to get there.

agua clara visitor center, the panama canal

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