Boquete was a definite surprise for me. The village is situated in the lush mountains of the northern part of Chiriqui, and features an abundance of delights that I didn’t have a clue about. Actually, I’d never heard of this place until a friend of a family I was staying with in David said, “You simply must visit Boquete! It is very American.” I couldn’t help but be amused that she considered that a very good thing.
I did, however, take her up on her suggestion, and found myself completely enchanted with this lovely place! And, I can easily say that Boquete was my most favorite place to visit in Panama. Yes, I do love the beach immensely, but… I also love being surprised!
Scroll down to read more about this lovely place!
The day I visited Boquete, a haze of moisture cloaked the mountains as if it was about to rain, but it never did. Just a cool breeze with a subtle mist, every once in awhile, and the sun shining constantly. It was borderline cool outside (most definitely in the low 70s), and quite a lot of the local Panamanians were “bundled up” with scarves and jackets. And then a group of teenage touristy-type gals would walk by wearing tank tops, short shorts, and sandals. So, the old saying “it’s all relative” is perfectly true.
But, seriously, the weather in Boquete is pretty perfect, with year-round balmy temperatures, and an occasional drizzle here & there. Maybe that’s why Boquete is often called the “Valley of Flowers and Eternal Spring.”
You’ll find a variety of people in Boquete, and I’m delighted to say that the local Panamanians are super friendly (just as I found them to be in David). While scoping out the town, I stopped to do a bit of souvenir shopping, and ended up chatting with a nice local guy for awhile. Actually, there was a little mix-up in the conversation when he got the impression that I was from Michigan. I realized my blunder, the moment he started asking me about the lakes. I can laugh about it now, but I was rather embarrassed at the time. Yes, I am easily embarrassed (it’s probably due to this highly sensitive personality of mine). Okay, moving on!
Besides friendly locals, there are a whole lot of “tourists” in Boquete. Well, quite a lot of them are not “visiting tourists,” they are expats. Boquete is a very popular retirement location for retirees from Europe and the US. Out of a population of 19,000, there are roughly 3,000 expats permanently living in Boquete.
Click here for an insider’s guide to living in Boquete, Panama.
So, if you are looking for a more authentic Panamanian experience, Boquete may not be what you’d like. Try visiting David instead. But, I still recommend Boquete. It’s just so darn pretty. 🙂
“The poetry of the earth is never dead.”
― John Keats
There are a couple of gardens in Boquete, and my favorite is the one at the Mi Jardin Coffee Bar (which also has great coffee, but we’ll get to that in a moment). It was very extensive, immaculately kept, and it was free. There was another garden in town that was also stunning, but it cost a small fee to enter. And it didn’t boast the impressive view of Boquete & the mountains surrounding the town like the one at Mi Jardin.
Click here for more info about Boquete’s top gardens & parks.
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Boquete (roughly one hour) is a volcano: Volcán Barú. Because it is the highest mountain in all of Panama, on a clear day you just might/could possibly/maybe be able to catch a glimpse of both the Pacific and the Caribbean from it’s summit. It is rare, however, but it does happen.
For hiking enthusiasts, there is a most challenging trail located in the Volcán Barú National Park called Los Quetzales. It’s a long and adventurous experience (about 6 hours to hike), but also unforgettable. It runs between Boquete and Cerro Punta, and features a suspension bridge over the Caldera River
Well, of course I’m going to mention coffee in this article. When do I ever not take the opportunity to talk about coffee? If coffee were the only reason to visit Boquete, well, that’s all that I would need. Well, that and the weather. It’s a toss up. 🙂
To get a taste of the quality coffee in Boquete, you simply have to stop in at Mi Jardin Coffee Bar & grab a cool, refreshing latte. Or whatever coffee beverage is your cup of tea (cup of tea? Kinda funny… no?).
If you’re interested in seeing the whole coffee growing/roasting process, there are several fascinating tours that you can book, such as the El Jardin de Cafe Tour or the Finca dos Jefes Tour. I unfortunately didn’t get to experience any tours while I was in Boquete, but I certainly would have liked to. Just to see the process behind the excellent coffee at Mi Jardin.
“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes,’ otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.” — Ian Fleming
Besides hiking the volcano, there are a number of other activities that will tempt both the thrill-seekers and the not-so-adventurous ones (like moi). From river rafting to horseback riding to off-road tours, there are lots of options.
Click here for a list of things to do in Boquete.
In the stillness of this tranquil mountain village, you’ll find an addictive sense of ease. Boquete is an ideal place in which to relax. Go on a jaunt into the jungle to find the Caldera Hot Springs, and spend a leisurely time in nature, soaking up the beneficial minerals. Enjoy a tasty empanada at Sugar & Spice or indulge in a loaf of their fresh baked bread. Treat yourself to a massage at The Haven Spa. Find a place that serves locally grown coffee, and simply savor it. This is the place to chill.
Once in the center of Boquete, I was pleasantly aware of the hep vibes of jazz music. I could feel the music even before I rolled down the window of our car, and heard the familiar song Hit the Road Jack, being played by a live band at a local bar. As I came to find out, Boquete hosts the second largest annual jazz festival in Panama. So, throughout the rest of the year, there lingers a rich, jazzy atmosphere.
And that wraps up this article. So tell me, what did you think of Boquete? Are there any small mountain towns that you’ve visited, and would like to recommend? I’m always on the lookout for new places to visit!