The Chiriqui province’s capital city has many different identities. Officially named San José de David, this city serves as a hub of commerce and services in Chiriqui, an agricultural center, a booming expatriate haven, and a jumping-off point for Panama travelers.
With a charming country feel and border-town bustle (David is located 45 minutes from Costa Rica), you’ll enjoy your time here, whether you’re visiting or just passing through. The low population density, historic architecture, and humble buildings (few taller than five stories) make David feel smaller than the scope of its offerings, which include a state-of-the-art medical facility, shopping malls, four major department stores, six appliance and electronics outlets, three furniture stores, and more than ten auto dealerships. There’s even a Price Smart (Panama’s answer to Costco) and a Do-It Center (Panama’s version of Home Depot).
Many expatriates live in the northern section of David, where most of the city’s commercial activity is concentrated, and expatriates from all over Panama often make a special trip to David whenever they want a new outfit, a nice piece of furniture, or a hard-to-find piece of electronic equipment.
David may not be as tourist-centric as towns like Boquete or Volcan, but it provides convenient solutions for all your practical needs and makes for a pleasurable day-stop if you’re on your way to Chiriqui highlights such as Volcan Baru or the glittering Gulf of Chiriqui.
Situated on the coastal plain at the foothills of the Cordillera de la Talamanca, David can get pretty hot and humid. The heat won’t slow you down if you take advantage of the shade in David’s beautiful Parque Miguel de Cervantes and keep cool with helados, chilled coconut juices, and fresh fruit smoothies from the friendly vendors’ stalls lining the avenue. With hydration in hand, you can weave in and out of the shops along the Via Boquete to check out authentic Panamanian handmade goods, or take a short (30-minute) drive to Playa Barqueta to enjoy the breeze-blown black sand beaches.
The Pan-American Highway runs through David, and the infrastructure in and around David is often considered to be the best in Panama.
David was founded in 1602 by Francisco de Gama, a Spanish explorer who had been instructed to establish several settlements in the area. Under the instruction of Juan López de Siqueira, Francisco de Gama established three settlements near the site of modern-day David. Two of the settlements were soon attacked and torn down by natives, but the settlement at David held strong throughout the centuries.
Carlos Ruiz, catcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, was born and raised in David.