7 Best Things to Do in Boquete, Chiriqui Province | Panama

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Best Things to Do in Boquete Chiriqui Province, Panama

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 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 

Volcan Baru Hike in Boquete, Panama

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% off Water-to-Go filter water bottles EU and Water-to-Go filter water bottles US 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 is the sounds of the birds and insects around you.

Waterfall 2 on the Lost Waterfalls Hike in Boquete, Panama

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.

sign for the Pipeline Trail in Boquete Panama

You reach this trail the same way as for the Lost Waterfalls trails. Just stay on the bus a little longer until you reach the trailhead (marked with a sign that says PIPELINE down the left post. Walk up the gravel road to a small hut on the left, where you can pay the small entry fee.
 
From there it’s a very flat, straightforward walk through the jungle along a riverside trail and a pipeline (hence the name). There are a couple of rickety wooden bridges to cross but other than that it’s a very easy hike.
 

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.

Rock Climbing Boquete

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.

Boquete Rock Climbing School offer a selection of rock climbing sessions and tours for all levels from complete beginners to experts. They also offer bouldering, deep water soloing, canyoning and slacklining.
 
Even if you’ve never tried climbing before, this is one activity you should consider trying out whilst in Boquete.
 

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.

Finca Dos Jefes in Boquete, Panama
Due to its high elevation, cool climate, and fertile volcanic soil Boquete has the ideal environment for growing coffee. Renowned for producing some of the best coffee in the world, Boquete has several coffee plantations up in the hills around the town.
 
Many of the plantations offer coffee tours, but we’d heard that the best one was Finca dos Jefes. So when they invited us to join them for a coffee tour one afternoon we were happily accepted.
 
Nestled on the slopes of Volcan Baru, Finca dos Jefes has stunning views out over the valley. The tour itself takes place in beautiful grounds full of coffee plants and fruit trees; it’s a wonderful setting.
 
During our interesting and informative tour we learnt all about the process of bringing their Cafe de La Luna coffee from the cherry to the cup. They also shared heaps about the sustainable farming practices they are so passionate about.
 

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

Zipline and Canopy Tour in Boquete

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.

The canopy tour at Tree Trek has a total of 4.5 km of zip lines divided into 12 different stretches of cable. Some are fast, some slow, some bouncy and so on. Soaring through the canopy above the river is a fantastic, exhilarating experience. It gives a completely new perspective of the cloud forest, all under the watchful eye of experienced instructors.
 
The hanging bridges tour is another exciting way to spend a few hours exploring the biodiversity of the tropical cloud forest. The tour consists of a circuit of six suspension bridges which make up a 4.5 km route through the treetops. A guide will go with you to tell you all about the flora and the fauna of the protected forest.
 
If you’re not keen on heights, these are two activities you may want to skip.
 

7. Cliff Jump and Swim in Gualaca Canyon

Gualaca Canyon near Boquete

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.

Gualaca Canyon is a natural canyon in Chiriqui province that is over a thousand years old. Locals call this hidden gem a mini-canyon, but in reality, it’s not that small. The River Esti created this rock formation which created a narrow 40-metre long channel which opens out into a large natural pool.
 
It’s the perfect spot to chill out and swim with friends and the more adventurous might want to try some cliff jumping and canyoning.
 

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

Boquete has plenty of hotel, hostel and guesthouse options. We made a very last minute booking at Hostal Gaia and were extremely pleased we did. It was actually more of a big house with a communal terrace, lounge and kitchen. We had a private double room which was amazing value and there were also dorm rooms available. We especially loved how the terrace of the property looked out over a pretty back garden. The garden led down to a babbling stream that ran right past the bottom of the garden – so lovely.
 
A unique accommodation option just outside town is Bambuda Castle, recommended to us by several people. It looked amazing, but the private rooms were outside our budget. We don’t do dorms these days so unfortunately we had to pass on it.
 
Another popular option is Mamallena Hostal, the main hostal in Boquete, located right on the central town square. Mamallena Hostal is also great at organising tours and onward travel for you. Even though we didn’t stay there we booked our onward travel to Santa Catalina.
 
If these suggestions aren’t to your taste, don’t worry as there’s also other accommodation to suit all budgets and styles, including some lovely Airbnbs

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.

● Find great flight deals on Skyscanner US, Skyscanner UK and Kayak.

● Booking.com or HotelsCombined have the best hotel prices.

● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is  Airbnb.

● Before booking accommodation, check reviews on TripAdvisor.

● Even in the days of Google we still like to use guidebooks 7 Best Things to Do in Boquete, Chiriqui Province | Panama 1for ideas, like Lonely Planet UK and Lonely Planet US and Canada.

● Discover fantastic trips and activities with Viator and GetYourGuide.

● G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer group holidays and tours, or compare many tour agencies with TourRadar.

Have you been to Boquete in Panama? Did you find anything else to do that we missed from our list?

Read More Central America

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Top 9 Things to Do in Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

Exploring Pico Bonito National Park With Hotel Rio, Honduras

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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.

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