Situated between the gentle curve of the Caldera River and the steep ascent of Volcan Baru, Boquete is a beautiful town with some of the most temperate weather you’ll find in Panama, and one well-worth a visit. Don’t make the mistake of many travelers and breeze through Boquete on your way to highlands hiking adventures or beach sunbathing – instead, pause among the friendly locals and community of expatriates in this alcove of Panamanian culture. You’ll truly know Panama better for it.
Here’s a handy guide to help you spend a memorable day ambling around in Boquete:
Firsts Things First
Good mornings begin with a cup of coffee, and in Boquete you can add to your caffeine kick by taking an a.m. coffee tour. There are a number of reputable tour options, but we’re particularly fond of Café Ruiz. This coffee plantation has been owned by the Ruiz family for more than a hundred years, making it one of the oldest coffee producers in the country. Their passion for fine coffee is reflected in the quality of their beans and the richness of their roast.
The Ruiz family offers visitors a 45-minute tour for $9 or a 3-hour tour for $30. Whether you’re just looking to learn a little as the steam rises off your cup, or want to experience the scope of the plantation, one of Café Ruiz’s friendly Ngobe-Bugle guides will lead you on a memorable tour. A hot cup of freshly-brewed coffee is the perfect complement to the cooler early-morning temperatures in Boquete.
Dining Al Fresco
After a leisurely morning excursion at Café Ruiz and a little unguided exploration of Boquete, it’s time for some nourishment before your afternoon hike. And the intoxicating aromas of the coffee plantation have probably awakened your palate. Take a short cab ride (about $2) to make your lunch stop at the Rock Restaurant, an excellent little café just a few miles from the town center. The dimly-lit interior of the café is full of rustic romance… but the adjoining patio commands excellent views. We recommend dining al fresco.
The Rock offers a variety of international dishes including a particularly good Mediterannean menu. You can enjoy fresh seafood, mouthwatering steaks, and satisfying pasta dishes, along with a great selection of wine and homemade beer. With such beautiful presentation, delicious desserts like seco-infused tiramisu look too good to eat. But you’ll quickly get over it as you savor the perfect finishing touch to an impeccable meal.
An Invigorating Afternoon
By now, you’ve tasted the finest flavors of Boquete and you’re “in” with the welcoming community – and only half the day is over! It’s time to immerse yourself in the incredible natural surroundings. Hiking is a terrific option, as is a trip with Boquete Tree Trek. This reliable outfitter guarantees both safety and adventure on any of its tour options. The mountain bike tour appeals to many day-trippers, as does the 4×4 hiking tour. All reasonably-priced and designed to accommodate groups of varying sizes, Boquete Tree Trek tours depart from the main office located in downtown Boquete.
Right in Boquete is one of the best hiking trails in Panama, the Sendero Los Quetzales. From the moment you set out from the ranger station, you’re privy to an unbelievable nature experience. The birdwatching opportunities are astounding – there’s a good chance you’ll glimpse the quintessential birder’s Central American conquest: the quetzal. The well-marked trail from Boquete winds through thick rainforest crisscrossed by crystalline streams banked in velvety moss-covered boulders. Although sections nearer Cerro Punta can get pretty arduous, the terrain around Boquete is generally level and easygoing, and there are numerous panoramic lookout points.
Take a full day in Boquete to relax among the locals and expatriates, sip locally-grown coffee at the source, enjoy shopping in the vibrant town center, dine on food for the senses in an equally stimulating environment, journey into the surrounding jungle to experience the sights and sounds of exotic rainforest birds, and return to this charming town for an evening at another of Boquete’s fantastic restaurants.
Once you get to know this quaint Chiriqui town, you’ll understand why visitors often become residents. It’s hard to leave!