If you’ve visited Boquete, Panama before, you’ll understand why this title’s true. Boquete is one of the true treats of small-town Panama, popular with locals for centuries, and now a hot spot for tourism and expat relocation as well. Boquete is situated about a 6-hour drive from Panama City, tucked away in the Chiriqui highlands. It’s easy to reach from David (Panama’s 2nd largest city) which is a 40-minute drive away. The proximity to David also makes Boquete easy to reach by short drive after a flight from Panama City, which takes about 30-40 minutes. This makes Boquete remote, but still accessible without much hassle to the capital and its airports and bus terminals. Boquete is situated right in the mountains, adjacent to Volcan Baru. It’s got a cool climate (60s-70s F, 20-26 C), which makes it an ideal escape from the heat, and a great location for outdoor activities.
What to do in Boquete
There’s so much to do in Boquete, it’s hard to imagine it all possible in such a small, picturesque town. Upon your arrival, you’ll immediately notice the restaurants, shops, and tour companies in the center of the village. This is where much of the action happens, as well as the base for excursions around town, and in more remote parts of the region of Chiriqui. Some of the more popular activities include hiking, ATV expeditions, rafting, Yoga, shopping, and coffee tours. Thanks to its climate and altitude, Boquete is right in the heart of Panama’s coffee region. This makes for a unique opportunity to see how some of the world’s best coffee is grown, harvested, and made (taste testing is the best!).
If chilling out is your thing, and you want a break from activities, you can easily find a small local restaurant, cafe, or bar to hang out in, listen to live music, and get to know the community. You may also want to check out the “Feria de Flores” which is an outdoor flower exposition showing off the amazing colors of the local flora, with benches for relaxing and taking it all in. You can also take a quiet stroll down the riverfront, which is the centerpiece of the town known as the Rio Caldera.
The Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival
Easily the biggest draw for foreign tourists and expats, the Boquete Jazz & Blues Festival is one of a kind. Each February, festival organizers put on a massive effort to bring some of the world’s most recognized Jazz and Blues acts to Boquete, to play in a weekend-long festival. The festival draws crowds from near and far, and generates a warm, welcoming atmosphere during the surrounding days around the performances. Aside from bands booked for the main stage, there are a series of scheduled and impromptu music acts off the main site of the festival at local venues. This means that even if you don’t have tickets to the main event, you can still enjoy the buzz of the spirit of the festival just by being in town.
Where to stay in Boquete
Boquete has a lot of great options when it comes to lodging. There’s a number of remote, retreat-like hotels, as well as ones in the town center. Valle Escondido, where the Jazz and Blues Festival is held, also has a hotel which gives you easy access to town and its golf course. For backpackers, you can stay in the Mamallena Hostel, or one of the other handful of hostels scattered around town and its outskirts. No matter where you stay, or what time of year you go there, you’re going to LOVE Boquete, Panama.