Boquete Panama may be most well known for its position as a top retirement spot for aged Americans, especially after a feature by AARP declared it “something close to heaven ” for prospective retirees.
But while it might be an ideal place for “jubilados” (the super fun Spanish word for retirees), Boquete is so much more than just a destination for jubilantly work-free baby boomers.
The small town is far from placid, boring, or plainly pleasant. Offering adventures galore (rafting, hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding are just a few of the many options), Boquete is a true adrenaline-filled eco tourism destination of rugged natural beauty similar to La Fortuna or Monteverde in Costa Rica. Its expansive mountainous forests, fresh clean rivers, and smog free skies will delight anyone in search of wilderness within reach.
Boquete feels very safe, like a little village where everyone knows each other and always offers a greeting. It’s an awesome choice in Central America for solo female travelers to feel secure while also adventuring. With a pretty little river that runs through the city and mountains surrounding, it is also feels positively picturesque.
Are you ready to get your adventure started? This is the info you’ll need to know…
HOW TO ARRIVE TO Boquete Panama
If you’re coming from Panama City (the most popular jumping off point), you’re in luck! Getting from Panama City to Boquete (and from Boquete back to Panama City) is easy.
Get from Panama City to Boquete Panama by Bus:
In Panama City’s main bus terminal, you’ll need to purchase a ticket to David, which offers the nearest main terminal to Boquete. Buy your bus ticket as far in advance as possible (note: this must be done at the bus station, as online tickets are currently not available) – there are several departures throughout the day but the tickets do sell out.
The bus from Panama City to David is about 7 hours on an express bus, and costs around $20. Once in David, you can take a local bus to Boquete if you don’t have a lot of luggage for around $2 and a duration of 45 minutes. You can also arrange private transport for $35 through Habla Ya if you’ll be taking Spanish class.
the bus from Panama City to Boquete (and vice versa) looks like this
Get from Panama City to Boquete Panama by Plane:
There are also flights from Panama City to David, ranging from around $80 to $150 one way. Copa Air and Air Panama both offer this service, but Copa is more convenient if you’re arriving from another international flight, as you the departures leave from the international airport PTY. With Air Panama, you’ll need to take a taxi to the domestic airport.
Get from Boquete to Boquete Panama by Bus:
If you are going from Bocas del Toro to Boquete, you can take a combined boat and shuttle bus (purchase from almost any tour operator). Usually leaving in the morning or early afternoon, you’ll take a shuttle boat to Almirante, and from there a mini bus will whisk you away to the main square of Boquete. This ticket will cost $10-30.
For more information and more options on arriving to Boquete, check out this super helpful guide.
WHAT TO PACK FOR BOquete Panama
I used my same Costa Rica packing list for my three weeks in Panama, including Boquete.
It’s important to keep in mind that Boquete can be quite cool and rainy in the mornings and evenings. I really wished I had a pair of jeans, and if I had to re-do my backpack I definitely would have packed a pair, along with a rain jacket.
true story: I’m freezing my butt off in this photo – can you tell?
While Boquete feels quite cool compared to Bocas del Toro, that doesn’t mean that the sun is significantly less potent. I got sunburned – twice! Make sure to pack sunscreen, but if you forget there are a few pharmacies and grocery stores that sell it.
If you’re going to be hiking, a good quality (preferably natural) bug spray is essential for your comfort, though the mosquitos and flies definitely aren’t as bad as in Bocas del Toro.
HOW TO GET AROUND Boquete
Unless you’re staying really far out, all of Boquete is very easily reached on foot. The town is tiny, and the vast majority of accommodation, restaurants, and tour operators are located within just a few city squares.
walking between my homestay and the main square of Boquete took just 20 minutes
If you’re feeling especially lazy or drunk, or you want to go further afield, taxis are an easy and cheap choice. Most taxis start at just $1.
Renting or riding a bike is also an option, though less popular than in Bocas Del Toro, as Boquete is super small.
GET OUT AND ABOUT IN Boquete Panama
While most attractions and excitement are within the town of Boquete (or within a short van ride), there are a few options for going further afield.
David is a bigger and more hustling and bustling city, known for great prices on shopping. You can reach it within 45 minutes on a local bus, or for about $35 in a cab in each direction. It is also the location of the closest major bus terminal.
just a day trip away from the center of Boquete!
The Chiriqui Gulf is just a few hours drive away, keeping beautiful tropical beaches within reach even in Boquete. It’s the perfect excuse to break out that bikini and escape to a warm, sunny island.
Where to Stay in BOquete Panama
Especially if you’re studying Spanish, I highly recommend a homestay. Habla Ya can arrange one for you, based on your requirements (private rooms and some special dietary requirements can be accommodated, for example). Homestay are the cheapest (and arguably the most interesting) option for accommodation in Boquete. Most include at least one meal a day (all the way up to every meal each day), and provide invaluable insight into the culture and lifestyle of Panamanian families.
my homestay room
If a homestay isn’t your jam, which I totally understand, there are many other options for accommodation in Boquete Panama. A dorm bed in a hostel starts around $10, while a private double room starts around $30. Or you can stay at the AMAZING Haven, in a suite for $170 (or a regular room for $100).
Super Budget: A Dorm Bed at Hospedaje Astana – around $10
Budget: A Private Room at Hostal Boquete – around $35
Mid-Range: A Private Room with Breakfast at Hotel La Casa de la Abuela – around $50
Splurge: A Suite at the Haven Hotel & Spa – around $170
WHAT TO DO IN Boquete Panama
Wondering what things to do in Boquete Panama?
Tour operators like Explora Ya have almost endless options for adventure and exploration in Boquete and beyond. Whether you’re after horseback riding, hiking, rafting, ecotourism tours (and so much more) stop in to a tour operator and see what’s on offer. Always make sure that your tour operator is licensed by Panama and professional. Don’t cut corners with costs, as it will likely be reflected both in the quality of the tour and the safety of the excursion.
I can personally recommend:
Going on a Local Coffee Tour
Embarking on the Rio Canyon Hike
Escaping to a Chiriqui Gulf Beach
Studying Spanish with Habla Ya
If you can time your visit to coincide with the annual Coffee and Flower fair, you’ll be even luckier to view the town at its very liveliest. Thousands of Panamanians flock to the festival, with nights full of coffee sipping and shopping, and nights packed with drinking and dancing.
Where to Eat IN Boquete Panama
While Boquete is more of an ecotourism destination than a culinary hotspot, there are a few really good restaurant choices. While Central America is notoriously tough on veggies like myself, I found that Boquete (and the rest of Panama) had surprisingly MANY options for finding healthy vegetarian options.
I ate most of my meals with my host family, but I can recommend these two as solid options for restaurants in Boquete:
Big Daddy’s – Located right next to the Los Establos plaza, Big Daddy’s is an iconic Boquete restaurant. I loved the vegetarian tacos, which is a huge platter with tacos filled with fresh veggies, and rice and beans (or fries) on the side for $8. The guacamole was a bit runny and inauthentic, and the beans were oddly sweet, but I couldn’t finish this whole thing anyway and the other bits were DELICIOUS!
Big Daddy’s vegetarian tacos
Sugar and Spice – Just a block out of the city center, this awesome sandwich shop is bright, friendly, and full of deliciously healthy options. In addition to soups and salads, there are several vegetarian sandwiches on offer, but my favorite was the Ratatouille Sandwich for just $4.50 (you can get a side salad for an extra $.75). The restaurant also offers a free self-service drinking water station, which is always a plus.
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