Lonely Planet review
The boat ride from Changuinola to Bocas del Toro travels through the old canal formerly used by the banana plantations - it's a scenic trip that's well worth taking. The canal was abandoned years ago, and until the mid-1990s it was a bird watcher's dream. Today however, much of the jungle on both sides of the waterway has been cleared for cattle pasture, though there is still wildlife in the area.
In 1903, a 15km (9mi) canal connecting the Río Changuinola and Bahía de Almirante was dug parallel to the Caribbean shoreline, running within several hundred meters of it for most of its length. The work was begun six years earlier by the Snyder Brothers Banana Company to facilitate the barging of bananas from the fields to ships. The 30m/100ft-wide channel allowed transfer of the heavy fruit without interference from the open sea.