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Nestled in the highlands of western Panama is the small town of Boquete. With its cooler, fresher climate to the rest of Panama, it’s known as ‘The Valley of Eternal Spring’. It’s home to Panama’s most famous coffee region, plus a large number of US retiree expats. Don’t let the whole retiree thing put you off visiting though, Boquete soon became one of our favourite places in Panama. So much so, that we ended up extending our three-day stay to nearly a week. There are so many things to do in Boquete, Chiriqui Province that three days wouldn’t have done it justice.
Things to Do in Boquete, Chiriqui Province
We could easily have stayed a couple of weeks in Boquete if we hadn’t been short on time, but we still managed to do plenty during the six days we were there. Here are the seven best things to do in Boquete and the surrounding area.
1. Volcan Baru Hike
The most famous thing to do in Boquete is the hike up Volcan Baru, the highest point in Panama. It may not be suitable for everyone though as it’s quite a strenuous overnight hike.
We skipped this for a couple of reasons. We’d already hiked three volcanoes: Santa Ana near Lake Coatepeque in El Salvador; Masaya, just outside Granada in Nicaragua; and the viewpoint of Madera on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. Plus we had plans to hike Acatenango Volcano in Guatemala a couple of weeks later and wanted to save ourselves for that.
We did meet other people that did the Baru volcano sunrise hike and it sounded incredible. It’s one of the only places in the world you can watch the sunrise over both the Pacific and Caribbean oceans. If you get lucky and do it on a clear day.
You don’t need to shell out for a guide for this hike as there’s only one road to the summit. Just be sure to leave Boquete before midnight so you can reach the summit before sunrise. Either take a taxi or a shuttle from Mamallena Hostal to the trailhead, from where it’s a 13 km dark hike to the summit. Take plenty of water (15% discount off any Water-to-Go product via the EU website or US website with the code CTWT15) and wear layers as it’s windy and cold up there.
If you feel the volcano hike would be too difficult, there’s also the option to take a 4×4 jeep tour from Boquete.
2. Other Hiking in Boquete
If like us you don’t want to tackle Volcan Baru, there are plenty of other great hikes you can do from Boquete. Many are just outside town in the Bajo Mono region. If you love mountains, cloud forests, flora and fauna you’ll be in your element.
Unguided Hikes in Boquete
There are some hiking trails you won’t need a guide for including the two we did:
Lost Waterfalls Trail – this stunning trail takes you through lush cloud forest in search of three ‘lost waterfalls’. All you’ll hear are the sounds of the birds and insects around you.
The 3-hour round trip hike is reasonably easy and the waterfalls were some of the best we saw in Central America.
To get there catch a bus from town from Calle la Sur, one block from the main square. Tell the bus driver you want to go to ‘los tres cascadas’, which should only take about 30 minutes. Once dropped off, follow the signs for ‘The Lost Waterfalls’. Then go over a suspension bridge and up a steep track until you come to a booth where you need to pay an entrance fee.
We were passed a hand-drawn map to photograph and shown the best route to take. This was to hike to waterfalls two and three first and then loop back round to waterfall one on your way back.
If you only do one trek (other than Volcan Baru) in Boquete, do this one, it was our favourite there.
Pipeline Trail – this is another great hike in Bajo Mono region and the most accessible. I did this by myself whilst Andy had a lazy day back at our guesthouse.
En route, there’s a thousand-year-old tree and a boulder field which leads you to the tall but not very powerful waterfall at the end. The whole hike takes about one to one and a half hours (not including time at the waterfall).
Keep your eyes peeled whilst hiking as you may spot the elusive Quetzal bird. If you don’t, you may have more luck on the Senderos Los Quetzales (Quetzal trail) where they’re spotted more often.
We didn’t get the chance to do the Quetzal trail or spot any Quetzal birds in Boquete, but we did see Quetzals in Biotopo del Quetzal in Guatemala, earlier in our Central America trip.
The Pipeline trail is an enjoyable, but not too energetic way to spend a morning or afternoon whilst staying in Boquete.
Guided Hikes in Boquete
As well as all the unguided hikes you can do in Boquete there are also several hikes that you really should take a guide for. These include El Pianista, La Piedra de Lino, La Piedra de Artilleria and La Piedra de la India Vieja.
The most infamous one of these is El Pianista trail, where two dutch girls went missing in 2014. Read more about this and other hikes that are best guided in this post on the 8 Best Hikes in Boquete.
3. Rock Climbing
Boquete Rock Climbing School provided us with a discounted rock climbing lesson which I’ve reviewed below. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.
On the way out to Bajo Mono where many of the hiking trails are there are some incredible Basalt rock wall formations that are only found in the Boquete region of Panama. They were formed 500 years ago by volcanic eruptions and because of these rock climbing is now one of the fastest-growing sports in the region. Boquete is the new home of world-class rock climbing.
Andy used to climb regularly at home in the UK and was missing it, so when we were invited to join Boquete Rock Climbing School invited us on a four-hour climbing session we jumped at the chance. It turned out to be a fantastic afternoon.
Andy was in his element and once I’d gotten over my initial beginners’ nervousness, I also loved it. The patient and fun climbing instructors put me completely at my ease. Of the five or six routes we attempted, there was only one or two where we didn’t reach the top.
4. Take a Coffee Tour
Finca Dos Jefes provided us with a complimentary coffee tour which I’ve reviewed below. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.
5. White Water Rafting
Some of the best white water rafting in the world is accessible from Boquete. There are several world-class whitewater runs in Chiriqui Province alone.
There are many rivers in and near the area, including Rio Chiriqui Viejo, Rio Fonseca, Rio Gariche, and Rio Chiriqui. This means that based on the season, rainfall and water-level there are plenty of options to suit rafters with all levels of experience.
We didn’t raft whilst we were on Boquete as we’d only recently been rafting in Pico Bonito National Park in Honduras. However, we have it on good authority that Boquete Outdoor Adventures is the best tour company to book a rafting tour with at a great price.
6. Canopy and Hanging Bridges Tours
Canopy tours may be very popular all over Central America, but the ziplines and hanging bridges tours at Boquete Tree Trek Eco-Adventure Park is still worth doing. It’s a fun, adventurous way to explore the cloud forest and ideal if hiking isn’t your bag.
7. Cliff Jump and Swim in Gualaca Canyon
The last thing to do in Boquete on our list is Los Cangilones de Gualaca or Gualaca Canyon. This is a more off the beaten track spot and we sadly didn’t hear about it until after our visit. Nonetheless, I wanted to include it here, in the hope that you’ll get the chance to experience it.
You can take a taxi or a tour to Los Cangilones de Gualaca from Boquete. You can also take a public bus, but it goes via David and will take two hours, maybe more.
Where to Stay in Boquete
There are tons of things to do in Boquete, Chiriqui Province in Panama and this post only covers some of them. Try to plan in a few more days than you think you’ll need, so you have time to fully explore everything it has to offer.
Panama Travel Resources
Planning your trip to Panama? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you:
|● DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you’re travelling long-term like us and from the EU True Traveller is best. If you’re from other countries worldwide, World Nomads is good.
A new contender for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month by month basis. This is also a good option for shorter trips.
● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is Vrbo.
● Before booking accommodation, check reviews on TripAdvisor.
● Even in the days of Google we still like to use guidebooks for ideas.
Have you been to Boquete in Panama? Did you find anything else to do that we missed from our list?
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Product Review Disclosure: Boquete Rock Climbing School provided us with a discounted rock climbing session and Finca dos Jefes provided us with a complimentary coffee tour. This did not influence my post in any way and as always I’ve provided balanced and honest reviews. Read more in our full Product Review Disclosure.