Almirante Bay is 2 to 13 miles wide. The anchorage is protected by Colon Island and there are lots of islands within the bay. Almirante Bay runs into Chiriqui lagoon (area about 320 sq. m.) to its north, which is 32 m. long and 12 m. wide at the widest point.
The port of Almirante handles all the banana exports for that sector of Panama. It is also the mainland port for the ferry or water taxi to Bocas del Toro. That journey takes about a half-hour ride across the bay.
On his fourth journey Christopher Columbus sailed south along the Central American coast, past the modern states of Honduras and Costa Rica. On October 6, 1502, he entered Almirante Bay. Columbus produced hand drawn maps of Panama's coastline. He landed at Almirante and then continued his coastal journey south to the Chagres River, eventually taking refuge in a natural bay he christened Portobelo (Beautiful Port).
Today Almirante is a banana port of rusting roofed houses built on stilts over the calm waters of the Almirante Bay. The tourist merely passes through Almirante in order to catch a water taxi to Bocas del Toro, there being little to detain one in Almirante.
It is surrounded by acres of banana plantations owned largely by the Chiquita banana company. Buses between Changuinola and David or Panamá City will pick up and drop off passengers beside the road on the edge of town, a short taxi ride or ten-minute walk from the water taxis on the seafront.
Water-taxis to Bocas del Toro (25 min) leave every hour or so until about 6.30pm (you are in Panama now). Two water-taxi companies, Taxi 25 and Bocas Marine Tours, operate to the Bocas Archipelago. A safe, cheap, parking lot for cars, is available in Almirante for people bringing their own or rented car.
The ferry Palanga leaves Almirante -- for Bocas del Toro -- at 9am on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The return from Isla Colón is at 5pm. You are recommended to use the cheap water taxis, rather than wait for the ferry.
If you miss the last boat and get stuck in Almirante, there is not presently much in the way of hotels.The Hotel San Francisco, above a supermarket, across the main street from the bus terminal, is about the only option, and none of its guests that have posted on the web appear to recommend it.
Almirante - The inexcusable banana town A blog entry by a tourist.
Bocas del Toro Information