Region: Chiriqui Highlands
Closest Airport: Enrique Malek International Airport (DAV)
Altitude: 4000 ft (1200 m) Above Sea Level
Average Temperature: 72º-84º F (22º-28º C)
Boquete is booming. With spectacular mountain scenery and refreshingly cool temperatures, , Boquete is Panama’s premier retirement destination and popular tourist hotspot for Panamanians and foreigners alike. The location is prime for all things outdoors as well as complete relaxation, and is highly recommended to everyone visiting (and living) in Panama to enjoy a visit.
Boquete rests in a valley near the Costa Rican border in Panama’s Chiriquí province. Nicknamed the ¨Valley of Flowers,¨ this cozy mountainside village lies alongside the resident dormant volcano Volcán Barú, which creates an impressive backdrop and colors the area with vegetable farms, fruit orchards and coffee plantations. The winding roads dipping in and out of the valley immerse viewers with spectacular panoramas of the region’s lush greenery. Enjoy activities that take highlight the beauty of this verdant valley, including waterfalls, hot springs, scenic hikes, golfing, river rafting and rock climbing.
View both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean at the same time from Panama´s highest point: Volcán Barú, the resident dormant volcano that allows for a most fantastic sight of two water bodies from the summit. In an all-day climb, guided tours make this challenging ascend both doable and educational, even for inexperienced hikers who are seeking an adventure. Back in town, chill out by a fireplace with fine cuisine in one of Boquete’s many restaurants, enjoying local to international flavors and locally grown products.
Panama is a great ¨cupping¨ destination- the coffee equivalent of wine tasting- and Boquete is at its heart. Coffee farms allow visitors to enjoy spectacular views and snap postcard-worthy photos while they sip on what has been called the best coffee in the world.
Activities & Things to Do
Boquete truly has an activity for everyone in this eternal spring valley. Whether you want to take a look at real estate and enjoy wine by the fireplace, zip through the treetops of a century-old forests or play 9 holes with a cup of coffee, why not take some time to try a bit of everything? Check out some of what Boquete has to offer:
- Coffee Farm Tours
- River Rafting
- Horseback Riding
- Trout Fishing
Driving in and around Boquete is a treat in itself, with breathtaking scenery that will make you want to stop along the way. Complement your stay in this cloud forest with some excursions to white-sand beaches, good fishing, an indigenous community and for more mountain fun.
- Volcán and Cerro Punta: horse farms and strawberry country in a Swiss-inspired village
- Ngöbe Bugle: visit an organic cocoa farm in an indigenous community
- Boca Chica: Explore the Chiriqui Gulf Islands in a sea kayak, and snorkeling and swimming in turquoise waters. Don’t miss prime fishing.
- Las Lajas: 22 km of beach at less than a 2-hour ride from Boquete
- Río Chiriquí: Excellent white-water rafting through narrow canyons and adventurous waves
Wildlife & Nature
The best way to see wildlife is to stay overnight at Los Quetzales, the only place in Central America where you can stay overnight in a national park. These cabins deep in the cloud forest are famous in the birding world (aptly named to spot the resplendent quetzal!).
Hiking trails, either by foot or horse, are another great way to sight Chiriqui’s most prized birds and other wildlife, including monkeys, sloths, frogs and even butterflies. The Chiriqui highlands are home to two national parks, El Volcán and La Amistad, allowing for guided seclusion for exploration. The Dracula Orchid Farm in Boquete showcases up to 2200 species of orchids available for viewing year-round, and the Annual Orchid Fair (in April) allows local orchid growers to display thousands of varieties of this delicate flower.
Best Time to Visit
All year-round! Boquete has a near-perfect climate evern on drizzly days, where multiple rainbows can be seen at a time. With a constant spring-like climate, temperatures are cooler year-round, with an average around 20 degrees C (75 F) and even a bit cooler at night, a reason why many have chosen it as a retirement location. ¨Bajareque¨ is the name for the light mist that feels like a light breeze that falls year-round and refreshes the skin. The prolonged rainy, but spring-like periods from May through December in Boquete, make activities like rafting and hiking more enjoyable, with certain rivers only able to be experienced during these rainier periods.
Where to Stay
Boquete offers several options for your stay, from an ecolodge nestled in a national park to a riverside hideaway; a quaint garden inn to a charming lodge. Alongside the Coronado beach area, Boquete has the best organized and most active community of American and foreign residents, who work together with locals to make Boquete a great place to stay. Many of the hostels, hotels and B&Bs in Boquete fuse an ¨outside feel¨ with ¨local comfort,¨ from its architecture and amenities to its cuisine.
Restaurants and Nightlife
For a small town, it is impressive how many restaurants are in the Boquete area, leading for some to state that Boquete has the highest amount of restaurants per capita in Panama. From local to international cuisine, and with the freshest ingredients, dining in Boquete is truly to be enjoyed. Many restaurants incorporate the local backdrop and feel into their cuisine and ambiance, from hot European-style breads to locally-brewed beer to vegan curry pasta to all-you-can-eat ribs! We love Sugar & Spice for breakfast (best bakery in Boquete), The Rock for an outdoor late lunch, and a real dining adventure at Georges’ Grill for dinner.
For a relaxed, romantic evening, Panamonte Bar has a good selection of wines, cocktails and a fireplace to top off your night with class and style. Some restaurants such as The Rock have live jazz on select nights. Zanzibar is a hotspot for after-dinner drinks in this chill zone, particularly when fellow expats are in attendance. Bar Coca Cola is the local hangout for salsa dancing.
Amenities & Infrastructure
Boquete has most amenities to keep you comfortable during your stay:
Public transportation: Yes, taxis ($2 to most places in town) and local buses ($0.50). Due to Boquete’s small size, walking is another great option to see the immediate area.
Public amenities: No.
Shopping: A large grocery store to meet all your basic needs, and a fresh produce market. Coffee and souvenirs in abundance.
ATMs: Yes. Do not bring Traveler’s Cheques.
Gas stations: Yes.
WiFi or Internet cafés: Many restaurants/cafés offer wifi for their guests. Mailboxes on the Central Avenue near the Central Park is a popular place for paid Internet services.
Cell Phone Reception: Yes.
Restaurants: Yes; there are many options to suit all budgets.
Nearest medical facilities: A clinic is available in Boquete to provide immediate assistance, as well as private (typically expat) local physicians. The nearest city of David offers both private and public hospitals for medical care.