Does anyone know anything about shopping in the Colon Free Zone? I've seen many conflicting reports whether retail shopping is permitted or if it's only allowed and items are sent to the airport. Any information would be appreciated.
We did the Panama Canal on the Island Princess in March of this year. When we docked in Colon there is a large market area set up right there. It is recommended that you not leave this area for safety reasons. The selection at this market is very good and we were allowed to take our purchases back to the ship with us. There are customs agents who will go through all of your bags before you board the ship and then whatever security your ship has to check your bags will be done again when you are boarding. At least that is the way it was for us.
There are some great things to buy there - Molas, really nice pictures painted on feathers and framed, some leather goods, tote bags etc. If you are interested in puzzle boxes and you are also stopping in Costa Rica I recommend you wait and buy them there - the selection is huge and the price alot cheaper.
Stopped in Colon in March 2004 and spent some time checking at the shops at the port where the ship docked. One of the most interesting things I bought for my son was a hand carved rainstick. It was $20 US and had some beady eyes, a raised hand carved frog, some fur and some pretty ugly teeth. Every stick was different so if you want to bring soemthing home for the kids as gift each one will get a different look. He is 9 years old and he loved it. He brought it to school and the kids thought it was really neat. They were in a basket just inside the front door of the shop. Check it out!
My 6 year old daughter picked out a wooden horse puzzle and she really enjoyed that.
Costa Rica had some great salad bowls (1 large bowl and 6 smaller bowls $25 US) and some good coffee.