If you’re looking for a break from the beaches and snorkeling, a boat trip up the Canal de Soropta, on the mainland east of the town of Changuinola , is an interesting off-the-beaten-track jaunt.
The 12-kilometer canal was built in 1903 by Michael T. Snyder, a pioneering plantation owner, to shelter his banana barges from the open sea on their way between the mainland and the islands. Sometimes referred to as the Changuinola Canal, it parallels the coastline from the mouth of the Río Changuinola to Almirante Bay.
When the canal was bordered by forest on either side it was a prime birding spot. Unfortunately, slash-and-burn farmers and cattle ranchers have cut away much of the forest in recent years. But it still attracts quite an array of birds. Manatees are occasionally spotted here as well.
It makes for a tranquil jungle cruise, though the boats motoring up and down the canal probably don’t make the local fauna very happy; at least ask the boatman to take it slow.
It takes about a half hour by boat to reach the entrance to Canal de Soropta from Bocas town. Heading all the way up to the Río Changuinola takes about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace, but you don’t have to go that far to get a good look at the wildlife that’s left; there are tons of birds at the very entrance of the canal.
Early morning or late afternoon is the best time to go. You may want to include this as part of an Isla Colón  tour, since the entrance to the canal is just opposite Boca del Drago . Expect to pay an extra charge, but agree on a price ahead of time.