Panama City’s newest and grandest avenue also offers some of its most dramatic views. Built on landfill, Cinta Costera (coastal belt) sweeps along the edge of Panama Bay from Casco Viejo to ritzy Punta Paitilla and Punta Pacífica. It offers good views of the modern skyline of Panama City, Panama Bay, and the old seawall, churches, and historic buildings of Casco Viejo.
The original concept for the promenade called for huge expanses of parkland and lovely facilities to attract families and tourists down to the sea edge. The reality is far more pedestrian and far less pedestrian-friendly. While there are some playing fields and such, most of the common spaces are simply large fields of grass that turn brown in the dry season. Getting to these spaces isn’t that easy, either. The few pedestrian overpasses are spaced widely apart. (Do not attempt to cross the Cinta Costera itself; it’s a multi-lane highway.)
These caveats aside, it’s still a pleasant place for a morning or evening stroll. Try to time that stroll to coincide with high tide, when the view is nicer and the smell less potent. (Panama City dumps its untreated sewage into the bay. The government says it’s going to build an incredibly expensive sewage treatment system, but don’t hold your breath—or rather, do.)
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition