Ever wondered what a giant container ship passing through the Panama Canal might look like? Well, it just so happens we were visiting down there last week, and managed to stop by the Miraflores Locks, on the Pacific side, to witness a giant Dole container ship—full of pineapples, we assume—ease its way into the canal.
The entire process involves three sets of locks (Miraflores, Pedro Miguel and Gatun) and takes about 8-10 hours (though they allow multiple ships to travel along the canal at once) from one ocean to the other. But worry not. We've gone ahead and sped up the process to cram a 45-minute Miraflores Locks crossing into an easy-to-swallow two-and-a-half minute video clip. See below!
See how narrow it is? Most container ships span up to 106' or 107'—and the channel is only 110 feet wide. That doesn't leave a lot of room to maneuver.
Tourists and marine-lovers can stop by Miraflores Visitors Center any day of the week to catch front row seats of boats passing through the Miraflores Locks. $8 gets you admission into the center's three observation decks (where we shot our video), three floors of museum exhibits, two snack bars and a gift shop.
When you're all done, the top-floor restaurant has great views, but it's kinda pricey, so we recommend heading back into Panama City for a cheaper lunch. All that boat-watching can make you hungry!