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Amador Causeway, Panama City, Panama

In this Panama Special Report, we tour Panama’s Causeway in Amador, a former U.S. military outpost and Canal Zone recreation area that is today enjoying a multi-million dollar makeover.

The Amador Causeway has a long and winding history tied to the construction of the Panama Canal and the nearly 100-year occupation of the Canal Zone by U.S. military forces. Used first as a military base, Amador was later repurposed as a sprawling recreation area for the exclusive use of U.S. military personnel and their families. Languishing in neglect since the 1999 handover dictated by the Torrijos-Carter Treaty that returned the land to Panama, the Causeway is today the focus of an ambitious plan to transform it into a five-star residential community whose key feature, a cruise-ship terminal, will rival ports of call throughout the Americas.

$ 14.95

The Amador Causeway is a 6-kilometer-long roadway that stretches over the ocean to connect four islands (Naos, Flamenco, Perico, and Culebra), separating the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal from the Bay of Panama. Today, it’s lined with beautiful palm trees, walking paths, tourist shops, and restaurants, and best of all, offers some of the most stunning views of Panama City’s skyscraper-skyline as well as the ships lining up to enter the canal under the Bridge of the Americas.

Before any of that existed, the area was nothing more than a swampland known as the “Balboa Dump.” From when the United States took over building the canal from the French in 1903 to a year before its completion in 1913, 1.25 million cubic yards of rock and dirt from the “Great Dig” backfilled the dump, forming what is now the Amador Causeway, whose purpose was to protect the Port of Balboa from sedimentation and to act as a breakwater for ships entering the waterway.

Soon after, the Amador Causeway became one of the most fortified military posts in the Western Hemisphere, but as time passed, its role became less militarized and more recreative, hosting leisure-time activities for privileged Canal Zone managers and Zonian families.

After the handover of the canal in 1999, the Amador Causeway, despite all its appeal, began succumbing to neglect, with international tourists opting to visit other nearby attractions such as the Cinta Costera. Realizing its underutilized potential when it comes to tourism, the Panama government decided to undertake an ambitious renewal and renovation project targeting the Amador Causeway with the ultimate aim of creating a cruise ship port that promises to inject sorely needed economic stimulus to the area. If the next 100 years are as busy as the last, plenty of excitement and development are in store…