The city of Almirante is located in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama. This is where Chiquita exports its bananas by ship. There are several water taxis that run between Almirante and Bocas (Isla Colon). They run every half hour to hour during daylight hours. There is also a car ferry called the Palanga that operates four days a week. The water taxis cost is three dollars each way. If it is raining sit toward the front middle of the boat or you may get very wet. The luggage sits in the back of the boat and its wise to wrap luggage in large plastic bags.
The main street of Almirante is full of open sided stores full of clothing and household items. Many bars and small restaurants line the streets. Most of the food is Panamanian style although there are a few that serve American right on the water. There is also a Chinese restaurant toward the end of the main street on the right.
Lodging is hard to find in Almirante. Many of the establishments are not marked and are in very poor condition. Bathrooms are often shared or only offer cold water. Cockroaches are plentiful in these places. It is a good idea to travel to Isla Colon or Changuinola for a hotel. Isla Colon is a half hour boat ride and Changuinola is about the same but by bus.
Taxi drivers and bus drivers both tend to have a very heavy foot on these windy roads that are in need of repair. Talk to your drivers ahead of time if this is a concern because there is not much between Almirante and Changuinola should you abandon your ride. Some of the bus drivers have installed a TV in the front of their bus and play movies for the ride. This may sound like entertainment however the bus drivers tend to watch more TV then road.
The town of Almirante is very run down. It is fairly safe on the main streets in daylight hours. After dark the bars can get very rowdy and it may not be safe to travel alone on foot.
If your traveling to Isla Colon and you have a car you need to store in Almirante there is a fenced in supervised lot near the water taxi. They will charge you for this however it’s a lot safer then leaving your car anywhere else. The owners keep the gate shut and you may have to whistle or call out to get their attention.
The local children here on a quest for money will offer to carry your bags or groceries. The money they earn off of this usually goes to help pay for food for the family. If you take a child up on this offer make sure you keep an eye on your belongings. They are also good for pointing the way to restaurants or the bus stops. They are often willing to go along with you for a bit of pocket change, which would be way better than getting lost near dark. The children are also good at fetching taxi’s should there not be one available where your at.
Around the edges of Almirante people live in poverty and their housing and clothing reflects this. Children run around outside their house in underwear. All clothing is washed by hand and line dried. Most of the buildings have a simple tin roof and no windows.