Balboa is the separated from Panama City by the Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill), one of Panama City's skyline landmarks. Between the entrance of the Panama Canal and the City, it's the home of the Panama Canal Administration ACP , and part of the what was called "Canal Zone" when the Americans still ran the Canal. Now the official term is 'areas revertidas' or reverted areas.
5 Minutes north of Balboa you'll find Albrook with its airport that handles all domestic flights and the huge Albrook Mall which is also home of the 'Gran Terminal' where all buses to/from Panama city arrive and depart. The main port of Balboa is for big commercial vessels only but the Balboa Yacht club, actually in nearby Amador, serves the cruising community.
Besides many ACP administrative buildings its landmark head office, there is a large residential area and a port. Like other residential areas built by the Americans the setup is very spacious and green as opposed to the typical Panamanian urban planning.
The ACP main administration building is worth a visit, especially when combined with a walk up Ancon Hill to enjoy the wildlife and beautiful views of the City and Panama Canal entrance. Adjacent to Balboa (south) you'll find Amador and its Causeway. This is a great area for walking and bicycling (rentals) while enjoying views of the city skyline and waterfront.
There is a hostal, Bed and Breakfast and hotel in Balboa.
There are a few services useful to travelers such as the post office, 2 banks (with ATMs) and in the former YMCA buiding you'll find an Internet café and some travel agents.