Portobelo is located on the Caribbean coast of the province of Colon about halfway between the Panama Canal and the San Blas archipelago.
How to get there? Visitors could drive from Panama City to Portobelo, taking the Transisthmian highway to Sabanitas and then turn right on the road that leads to Portobelo. It takes around one and a half-hour. There is another way to get there, by taking a plane from Panama City in Marcos A. Gelabert Airport in Albrook to France Field airport in Colon, which takes about 20 minutes and then taking a car to Portobelo (40 minutes).
The new road has opened the gates for eco-adventure tourism, ex-pat settlements, a cruise liner home port, and business development.
The historic town of Portobelo, founded 400 years ago by the Spanish conquistadors. Believe it or not, this is where Sir Francis Drake met his demise.
Panama’s strategic value as a land bridge from the Atlantic to the Pacific has long given it a fabled character among mariners. This was especially true in the last 16th and early 17th centuries when piracy was common in the sparkling blue waters of the Gulf of Panama.
Pirates were drawn to Panama by the promise of Spanish gold. The Spaniards had undertaken a campaign for plunder in Peru that produced a flow of hundreds of tons of gold headed back to Spain.
Pirates would lay in wait just off the shores of modern day Panamahoping to intercept a gold laden Spanish Galleon attempting to run their blockade. So effective was the pirate’s cordon around Panama that ships would often choose to sail around Cape Horn to Peru rather than risk an encounter with buccaneers.
Today the only time you will encounter one of our more famous pirate kings in when you settle in for a sip of Captain Morgan’s Rum. The branding of this well known rum is an homage to one of Panama’s best known privateers, Henry Morgan.
Henry Morgan laid waste to Panama City in 1671 in one of the most daring pirate actions of the age. While dozens of pirate havens dotted the Panamanian and Colombian coasts, Henry Morgan wasn’t satisfied. He set his sites on ownership of Panama’s most important parcel of real estate; Panama City.
Henry Morgan was born in Wales. He left home to pursue his fortune but soon found himself kidnapped and sold into indentured slavery at a market in Barbados.
Morgan satisfied the debt that held him in bondage. He later joined a pirate crew, and the rest is history.
The promise of riches is still one of Panama’s allures to this day. A thriving economic environment, stable political system, and a business friendly working environment have combined to make Panama on of the fastest growing economies in the world.