Planning a trip to Panama and wondering where to go and what to see?
In this travel guide, I’ll share with you all the great things to do in Boquete and Chiriqui province. This list is PERFECT for the curious and intrepid travelers who love culture, history, food, nature, hiking, and a bit of adventure!
You’ll also find loads of info on where to stay and eat, how to get to Boquete, and how to get around the area. All of this info is based on my 10 days in Boquete and recommendations from locals and other travelers.
So let’s get started!
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Table of Contents
Boquete is perfect for those who like small cities and towns.
It’s only got a population of 19,000. That makes it safe, relaxing, and easy to get from one end of the city to the other on foot.
Located in the highlands of Chiriqui province, the city sits in a valley surrounded by mountains as well as Panama’s highest peak (Volcan Baru). That means there’s tons of natural beauty–waterfalls, rivers, forests, cloud forests–and opportunities for outdoor activities–hiking, climbing, ziplining, swimming, and white water rafting.
While hiking along the many trails, you’re chances of seeing the most beautiful bird in the world (IMHO)–the Resplendent Quetzal–are pretty good (even better than Costa Rica).
An added bonus for budget travelers is that the hiking trails are easily accessible by public transportation.
Besides tourism, the other main industry in Boquete is agriculture–strawberries, vegetables, flowers, and especially COFFEE. If you like or even love coffee, the highlands are PERFECT for you. They grow some of the best coffee in the world (IMHO). Luckily, shuttles can take you out to the coffee plantations where you can do coffee tours and coffee tastings.
Sadly, the town itself isn’t all that charming. If you take away the mountains, it feels like a small city in the middle of the U.S. Bland. Without much personality or architectural beauty. You’ll find one main road running through the center of town lined with strip malls, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants, and shops. The side streets are home to more tourist stuff, gated communities, and modest-sized homes. Probably the one piece of color is in all the flowers lining the roads.
Climate of Boquete
At 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) above sea level, the city has got the perfect mild weather. Coming from the hot and humid Bocas del Toro, Boquete was a huge relief for me.
Expect average temperatures during the day to be around 18 Celsius (mid-60s Fahrenheit) all year round.
Plan for rain as well. Even during Panama’s “dry season,” I experienced rain (March). The first three days were cloudy and gloomy all day, the next five days were sunny in the morning and cloudy and rainy in the afternoon, and on the last two days, it was total sunshine.
In the mountains, the climate is a cloud forest. This means that the forests are covered in clouds and thus most likely some kind of precipitation, which helps the beautiful bright green moss and colorful fungi grow.
People of Boquete
One of the first things I noticed when I got to Boquete was how many grey-haired North Americans there were. In fact, 3,000 of the 19,000 people living in the area are foreigners. Boquete became popular with retirees about 20 years ago. This is partly why Boquete is one of the most expensive places to live and visit in Panama.
The other noticeable people in Boquete are the indigenous Ngobe-Bugle. The Ngobe live mainly in Chiriqui and Bocas provinces. They are often the ones who work on the coffee plantations picking the fruit by hand.
You can’t miss the Ngobe women walking down the street. They are the ones wearing long dresses of solid bright color (blue, green, yellow, bright pink, red, orange) with strips of hand-made embroidery around the hem, collar, and sleeves.
30 Things to Do in Boquete
When I was planning my trip to Panama, I couldn’t find much info on what to do in Boquete. Most travel blogs listed hiking as the only activity.
I love to hike, but I also travel to explore the history, culture, food, and nature of a place. I needed more than hiking trails to make a trip to Boquete worthwhile.
Luckily, after a couple of days in the highland town, I found tons of things to do. This guide includes all those things.
I’ve organized the list in order by types of activities (click the link to jump to the section that most interests you):
- Food and Drink (1 – 7)
- Flora and Fauna (8 – 12)
- Hiking (13 – 19)
- Adventure (20 – 27)
- Day Trips outside of Boquete (28 – 30)
1. Try the World’s Most Expensive Coffee
I LOVE coffee, so the #1 thing I wanted to do in Boquete was to try Panama’s Geisha coffee. It’s supposed to be one of the most expensive coffees in the world. In fact, a pound of Panamanian geisha coffee sold at auction in 2021 for US$2,568.
Just an FYI about coffee:
Just to help you understand how Geisha coffee relates to other coffees, it’s good to know something about coffee in general:
There are 3 species of coffee: Arabica, Robusto, and Liberica. Arabica is grown at high altitudes like in Boquete and is supposed to produce the best quality coffee. There are 800 varieties of Arabica coffee beans. Geisha is one of the 800. But it needs to be grown at especially high altitudes compared to other types of coffee beans (at least 2,000 meters).
Geisha actually grows in different countries like Ethiopia and Costa Rica but it’s said that the geisha beans grown in Panama are the best because the Highlands is the only coffee-growing region that gets wind from both the Pacific and Caribbean waters. Boquete’s microclimate, volcanic soil, high altitude, by-hand harvesting, and low coffee production also help the coffee win awards year after year.
Why is it so expensive?
I asked this question a few times, and every time I got different answers. Here are some of the reasons:
(1) Supply is limited. One geisha tree produces only ½ kilo of coffee while other trees produce 2 kilos on average. Plus, it needs to be grown at over 2,000 meters.
(2) The Geisha coffee in Panama has won many international coffee competitions for its unique flavor profile. The coffee is very light with a sweet and floral flavor–like a cross between coffee and tea. It’s nothing like what you’d drink in Europe or North America so don’t be surprised if you’re not an immediate fan.
(3) The biggest consumers of geisha coffee are from the fast growing markets of East Asia.
(4) Hype – People hear how expensive geisha coffee is and will thus pay whatever sellers ask for.
One more thing about coffee in general:
Before trying your first cup of geisha coffee (or any coffee in Panama), you should know about the two ways coffee is produced in Panama:
(1) Washed method – After the beans are squeezed out of the fruit, they are washed in order to get rid of the sugar. Washing stops fermentation and produces a more bitter and less sweet coffee—you’re probably familiar with this coffee as this is the kind most people drink in Europe and North America.
(2) Natural method – The fruit is not washed and is instead dried right after coming off the tree. Thus fermentation takes place and the sugar remains in the coffee. This method produces a sweet cup of coffee. It’s not the coffee you’d find in most stores and cafes in North America and Europe. Try natural coffee at least once during your trip to Panama.
Which is better?
Whenever I had a choice between washed and natural, I always ordered the latter.
Where can you try geisha coffee in Boquete?
- Coffee shop: You can try Geisha coffee at a coffee shop in Boquete. These are the two that I really liked, but there are more:
- Buckle Tip Coffee Shop – I recommend trying a cup at this small coffee shop in the center of Boquete. You can try a cup for US$8-$10. Make sure you order natural processed beans and do the “pour over”method (filtrado) for the best-tasting cup. Niev and Rodney are lovely baristas who can give you advice on what to drink.
- Kotowa – I also had a cup of geisha here. It’s actually a Panamanian coffee shop chain. I paid US$5 for a cup of natural geisha at their cafe at Tree Trek Resort.
- Coffee Tour: The other way to try geisha coffee is on a coffee tour. Jump to the next section for information on how to do a tour in Boquete.
Is geisha coffee named after Japanese geishas?
Not one bit.
Geisha coffee has nothing to do with Japanese geishas.
Geisha beans originated on Mount Gesh-ha (it’s pronounced more like Geish-ha) in Ethiopia.
You can get the whole story on why the coffee is spelled like the Japanese hostess in this fascinating article. Or when you visit Boquete, just ask your guide.
2. Do a Coffee Tour and Coffee Tasting
The best way to experience the coffee of Panama is to tour a coffee plantation. You’ll learn what the different types of coffee are and how coffee is grown and processed.
Boquete is swarming with coffee farms, so you’ll have many tours to choose from.
Even if you’ve done a coffee tour before in Guatemala or Costa Rica, tours in Panama are extra special. At the end, you get to do an actual coffee tasting—just like how professional coffee tasters do it.
I went on two coffee tours in Boquete and I’ll tell you my experience below in order to help you decide which one to do.
(1) Tree Trek Mountain Resort Coffee Tour
PRICE: US$30 | TIMES: 8:00 am and 10:00 am | WEBSITE: Tree Trek | LOCATION: Google Maps
Tree Trek Resort is situated high up in the mountains on the Crystal River coffee plantation. The resort offers lots of different activities (see in the Tree Trek section for more info!). One activity is a coffee tour.
You can get picked up at your hotel and driven to the resort for free.
I went on the 8:00 am coffee tour (they also have a tour at 10:00 am), which was probably why I was the only one on the tour.
Overall, it was an excellent experience with a great guide. At the beginning of the tour, we actually heard the sound of the quetzal, and my guide, Ingrid, tried to track down the bird for me. Unfortunately, it flew away before I could see it.
My guide explained the process of growing coffee, the different types and varieties of coffee, and the history and characteristics of geisha coffee.
At the end of the tour, I did a tasting of 9 (yes 9!) different cups of coffee, including geisha and pacamara coffee. Ingrid set up the tasting so that I started with the darkest roast and ended with the geisha.
It was a lot of fun and a very eye-opening experience.
And Ingrid was an excellent guide—professional, well-organized, and patient. Her English was good and she could explain things clearly. Really good tour! The only thing is that the processing plant (squeeze, dry and peel the coffee beans) was not on the property so I didn’t get to see that part.
I recommend doing this tour! It might not seem as authentic as others, but my guide was so good and I got to taste 9 coffees.
(2) Don Pepe Estates Coffee Tour
PRICE: US$30 | TIMES: 9:00 am and 2:00 pm | LOCATION: Google Maps
High up on the slopes of Volcan Baru is the Don Pepe Estates. Most travel agencies and hotels in Boquete take you to this estate for coffee tours. And since they have a bus that’ll pick you up from your hotel, visiting is super convenient.
Everyone I spoke to absolutely LOVED this tour. They raved about the knowledgeable local Ngobe guide who shared the history of Boquete with them and the 8 different coffees they got to taste.
Unfortunately, I did not get the same guide. Instead, I got an impatient and disorganized guy who struggled with explaining things to the more than 20 people on the tour. The processing plant was closed and we only got four coffees to taste.
This tour doesn’t focus solely on Geisha coffee like the tour at Tree Trek. Instead, it’s more about coffee in general.
You can sign up for the tour at Boquete Outdoor Adventures, Iwanna Boquete Tours, or through your hotel or hostel.
Here are some other places that do coffee tours in Boquete, but don’t offer transportation:
- Finca Dos Jefes – a small farm not too far from Boquete (US$30 – regular tour with a tasting of ONLY 2 types of coffee; US$35 extended with a tasting of 4 types of coffee) – 9:00 am and 2:00 pm
- Finca Lerida – a well-known coffee farm (US$35 – the description on their website makes this sound like a really jam-packed tour with loads of information about coffee. I’m not sure how many cups you get to taste, though)
3. Sample Panamanian Food from Chiriqui Province
In my opinion, Panama has got the best food in Central America. And Chiriqui province has its own special dishes that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.
These are the 2 Chiriqui dishes that were recommended to me over and over again:
- El Mono
(1) El Mono “The Monkey”
El Mono can literally be translated as “the monkey.”
You won’t be eating monkey.
But why is it called “the monkey?”
Long ago farm laborers would wrap their lunch of rice and beans in a bijao leaf and then tie it to a tree branch so that animals or insects couldn’t get to their food. Hanging from the tree and wrapped in the leaf, the food looked like a monkey. Hence, the name—“El Mono.”
What’s el mono exactly?
It’s rice and beans topped with ropa vieja (old clothes) and plantains. Ropa vieja is another traditional Panamanian (and Cuban) dish made of stewed beef, carrots, bell peppers, and onions.
The flavor is rich and delicious. If you’re expecting the boring rice and beans that Costa Ricans eat all the time, you’ll be wrong. This rice and bean dish is full of flavor.
Where to eat El Mono in Boquete?
I had El Mono at Donde Ghiselle restaurant. It’s not cheap. The dish cost US$15.95 plus tax. I think Ngadri Gastronomia also has the dish on their menu.
Another dish that I unexpectedly tried thanks to a tour guide was elmojabano.
I later found out that it’s so famous in Chiriqui province that there’s an annual fair devoted to the dish.
Elmojabano is made of corn and cheese and I think it’s deep fried.
The festival named after this dish is called Festival Folklorico Internacional del Elmojabano con Queso and it took place in 2023 on February 1 – 5. The festival includes lots of competitions: singing, accordion, drums, and traditional dress.
Where can you try elmojabano?
I tried some at Meye Bounore Restaurante. But I also saw them being sold at the supermarkets in Boquete.
4. Try the Fresh Strawberries of Boquete
Besides coffee, the other special agricultural product of Boquete is strawberries.
If you pay attention while walking around Boquete, you’ll notice food trucks and snack shops ONLY selling strawberry desserts and snacks. They are made of fresh strawberries grown in the fields of Chiriqui province.
Fresa con crema
Don’t leave Boquete without trying “fresa con crema” (strawberries with cream). It’s a cup of fresh strawberries with homemade whipped cream (it tastes nothing like the cream you’d buy in a can in the U.S.).
And let me tell you: It was sooooo delicious. As I’m typing this, my mouth is watering just thinking about the strawberries and cream I had in Boquete.
Other strawberry snacks
You can try strawberries in a number of different ways: strawberries with caramel, strawberries with chocolate, strawberries with yogurt, a strawberry smoothie, and strawberry licuado.
Another typical and unique way to eat the strawberries is a “duro de fresa”—crushed frozen strawberries with condensed milk, real milk, and some other stuff that she couldn’t explain. It’s a bit like a popsicle.
Where to try strawberries (as recommended by a local):
- Las Princesas de las Fresas – Right next to the bus stop for the buses to David and across from the central park in Boquete is a small building with pics of strawberries painted all over it. This is where I had my first fresa con crema. It was later recommended to me by a local. It cost $3.50. (Google Maps)
- Fresas Café – Another local recommendation, this shop is on the outskirts of Boquete. They have an even bigger variety of strawberry dishes, a nice place to sit, and friendly staff. I had the fresa con naito (naito – watery cream with a distinct flavor that’s popular with locals–the crema is better) (Google Maps)
- El Poder de las Frutas – Another place recommended to me by a local. It’s across the street from Fresas Café. (Google Maps)
- Boquete Flower and Coffee Fair – This place was not exactly recommended to me but when I visited, they had fresa con crema for sale. Plus, you could find food vendors selling strawberry desserts along the road in front of the Fair. (Google Maps)
5. Experience Panamanian chocolate
PRICE: US$39-$45 | TIME: 10:00 am and 2:00 pm | WEBSITE: Perfect Pair Chocolate and Coffee Shop | LOCATION: Google Maps
Chocolate originated in Central America, but most of it is now grown in Africa (Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Ghana). So, it’s great when you can find cacao farms in Central America. In Panama, cacao is grown in Bocas del Toro.
In Boquete, the Perfect Pair Chocolate and Coffee restaurant uses the cacao grown in Bocas to make its own chocolate. When I visited, it cost US$1.65 for one small piece of chocolate like the ones in the photo above.
Alternatively, you can take a chocolate workshop at Perfect Pair, where you learn about how it’s made, sample 4 chocolate bars, and make your own chocolate. The workshop/tour costs US$39 with a minimum of 2 people (their website says US$45 but when I visited they said $39). It starts at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm and takes 2.5 hours. You can also do a tasting tour for US$19 (minimum of 2 people).
6. Sample and Learn About Panamanian Rum
PRICE: US$30 | TIMES: 10:00 am and 1:00 pm | BOOK YOUR TOUR: Tree Trek Mountain Resort | LOCATION: Google Maps
Another local product you should try when visiting Panama is rum.
Rum is made using the molasses and black treacle that comes from sugarcane and is produced all over the Caribbean and Central America. Panama has some award-winning rums.
At Tree Trek Mountain Resort in Boquete you can learn all about the rum of Panama on their “ron la solera” tour. You’ll also get to do a rum tasting. You do not tour a distillery, though, so you don’t get to see how it’s made.
7. Check out the Tuesday “Gringo” Market
ENTRANCE FEE: Free | HOURS: 9:00 am – 12:00 pm | WEBSITE: BCP Tuesday Market | LOCATION: Google Maps
Every Tuesday from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm is the unofficially named “Gringo” market. It’s a market for the 3,000 gringo ex-pats who make Boquete and the surrounding area their home.
The sellers are the local Panamanian and foreign residents of Boquete, and the buyers are the ex-pats and tourists.
Most of the things you’ll find are made by the sellers like desserts, cheese, bread, salads, sausages, and chocolates. You’ll find handicrafts, jewelry, and your basic souvenirs. Lots of stalls were into essential oils. A couple of people were selling orchids, which are grown here in Panama.
My advice is that you can easily skip this and not have missed a thing.
8. Spot the Resplendent Quetzal
Quetzals have got to be the most beautiful bird in the world—a bird with a red belly and green and blue feathers. Males have long and elegant feathers; females have shorter ones so they’re not as beautiful as the male birds.
I had been dying to spot one and get a photo of it ever since my trip to Monteverde, Costa Rica. Luckily, the hiking trails around Boquete are supposed to be the best places to see one in Panama. I met so many people who were lucky to have spotted not just one but multiple birds on their hikes AND without hiring an expensive guide.
The resplendent quetzal is a “near threatened” species, meaning that it is susceptible to endangerment in the near future. They are commonly found in southern Mexico and Central America. Panama and Costa Rica are the best places to spot one.
In Boquete, the best places to see a resplendent quetzal are…
- Pipeline Trail – Everyone I spoke to said this was the best place to see the resplendent quetzal. I did see a female quetzal here. It was sitting on a branch with his back to me. The forest was dark so the bird at first didn’t look like a quetzal.
- Los Quetzales Trail – When I was in Boquete, this trail was closed for maintenance
- Tree Trek Mountain Resort – Hanging Bridge’s trail
- Finca Lerida – Their trails are supposed to be great places to spot one
You can hire a guide to help you spot the quetzal:
- Tree Trek Mountain Resort – US$65 guided birdwatching tour
- Full Adventures Boquete – US$85 guided birdwatching tour
- Finca Lerida – guided bird-watching tours – a good place for spotting the Quetzal
9. Tour the Boquete Bees and Butterfly Garden
PRICE: US$12 for butterfly garden; US$45 for bee farm and butterfly garden | OPEN: 9:00 am – 4:30 pm | WEBSITE: Boquete Bees and Butterfly Tour | LOCATION: Google Maps
Learn all about honeymaking and butterflies with a visit to a bee and butterfly farm on the outskirts of Boquete. This place was highly recommended to me by another traveler who stayed at the Airbnb on the farm.
The farm has a butterfly house that you can visit for US$12. Some reviewers on Google say it’s not worth it. I also think this is a steep price considering you can visit the fabulous Butterfly House in El Valle de Anton for US$7.
They also have a 2.5-hour VIP tour for US$45 that includes a guided tour of the bee farm and a honey tasting. You learn about Panama’s stingless bees and the process of making honey. People who have done this tour loved it. I would have LOVED to have done this tour (I love food), but sadly they require a minimum of two people.
Their website says they do a honey tasting for US$15.
10. Discover the Orchids at Finca Dracula
ENTRANCE FEE: US$15 (50% off if you book online) | TIMES: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm | WEBSITE: Finca Dracula | LOCATION: Google Maps
Orchids are one of the most intriguing flowers in the world. And Boquete, with its perfect climate, is one of the best places to see them in their natural habitat (not in a vase or flower pot).
The easiest way to see orchids in Boquete is at Finca Dracula—a beautiful botanical garden high up in the cloud forest. Named after the Dracula Orchid, the farm has over 2,000 orchid species and thousands of hybrids. There are also succulents, cacti, and other tropical plants.
There’s an interesting guided tour in both Spanish and English that takes you through the orchid garden and display and the succulent garden. Guided tours are at 10:00 am, 11:00, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm every day except Thursdays.
Alternatively, you can do an audio tour on your own.
How to get to Finca Dracula
If you have a car, it’s easy.
If no car, it’s way more complicated and time-consuming. You’ll need to take a bus to David and then another bus to Cerro Punta. Finally, hire a taxi to take you to the farm (10 minutes).
11. Visit the Flower and Coffee Fair
ENTRANCE FEE: US$1 | OPEN: 8:30 am – 7:00 pm | LOCATION: Google Maps
The Flower and Coffee Fair is located at the fairgrounds beside the Caldera River in Boquete. You can take a nice stroll through a garden of colorful flowers, pick up some souvenirs, or have a local snack.
The fairgrounds is also the location of the annual International Flower and Coffee Fair in Boquete (January 12-22, 2023). The festival is very popular in Panama.
12. Visit the Whimsical Gardens of El Explorador
ENTRANCE FEE: US$3-5| TIMES: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm | LOCATION: Google Maps
If you have extra time, wander through the whimsical and tranquil gardens of El Explorador. Owned and run by a local woman, this garden is filled with flowers, trees mixed with art objects made from recycled material. You’ll also find animals like goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks and dogs. There are also great views of the surrounding mountains.
13. Hike the Pipeline Trail
ENTRANCE FEE: US$5 | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Easy to moderate | LOCATION: Google Maps
The easiest trail to hike in Boquete is the Pipeline.
And it’s so worth it!
Over and over again this was the trail that locals recommended to me for seeing the resplendent quetzal. And I can confirm that I did indeed see one on this trail. Other people saw two or three even.
The trail passes through a cloud forest and three micro-climates before ending at a waterfall.
It’s easy to do because its incline is gradual, so even those people like me who aren’t physically fit or who have knee problems can do this hike easily.
Getting to the waterfall at the end, however, requires you to climb up some rocks and step on wobbly stones to cross a few streams. It was challenging but I did it. You could also skip it if you want. It’s just an ok waterfall.
The trail is 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) and should take around 3 hours. It took me about 5 hours because I stopped a lot to look for birds.
Should you do this hike by yourself?
I did this hike alone and along the way, I saw many other hikers. I would do it again alone.
How to get to the Pipeline Trail?
Getting to the Pipeline is SUPER easy! That’s one of the many reasons I LOVE Boquete.
Public transportation goes right to the start of the trail.
Just catch one of the white colectivos (vans) leaving from in front of the Bruno Supermarket in downtown Boquete. The white vans will have the words “el bajo” on the front along with something else like “alto quiel el bajo” or “el mono el bajo” or “horqueta el bajo.” All of them eventually pass by the trailhead. Just ask the drivers if they’re going to “sendero pipeline.”
I paid US$2 in March 2023.
To return to Boquete, wait on either side of the road for a white colectivo (van).
14. Hike the Lost Waterfall Trail
ENTRANCE FEE: US$10 | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Moderate – difficult (slippery!) | LOCATION: Google Maps
The most popular hiking trail in Boquete is the Lost Waterfalls Trail (Las Tres Cascadas).
Its starting point is not too far from the Pipeline. The trail is quite steep, muddy, and slippery. Another traveler at the hostel I was staying at (Bambuda Castle) was there when a hiker slipped in the waterfall and broke her arm.
There are three waterfalls on this trail. The first one is beautiful and not too difficult to get to. The second waterfall flows into a small pool. The third is beautiful but the hike to it is much more challenging. It’s NOT recommended that people swim in the pools due to falling rocks.
You are LESS likely to see wildlife on this trail than on the Pipeline or Los Quetzales trails.
The trial is 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) and takes about 3 hours to complete. The level of difficulty is moderate to challenging.
Bring a rain jacket and/or cover for your backpack as there’s often light rain on the trail.
Should you do this hike alone?
This is a popular hike, so even if you go alone, you’re bound to come across lots of other hikers.
Locals also said that it was ok to do without a guide.
But it’s harder and more slippery, so…
Getting to the Lost Waterfalls trail
You can take public transportation to the start of the trail. Just catch one of the white colectivos (vans) leaving from in front of the Bruno Supermarket in downtown Boquete. The white vans will have the words “el bajo” on the front along with something else like “alto quiel el bajo” or “el mono el bajo” or “horqueta el bajo.” All of them eventually pass by the trailhead. Just ask the drivers if they’re going to “lost waterfalls trail.” Expect to pay US$2.
To return to Boquete, just wait on either the side of the road for a white colectivo (van).
15. Hike the Quetzales Trail
ENTRANCE FEE: Don’t know as it was closed when I visited | DIFFICULTY LEVEL: Moderate – Challenging | LOCATION: Google Maps
The most famous trail in Boquete is Los Quetzales Trail. It was closed for maintenance when I was in Boquete, so I didn’t meet anyone who hiked it.
The trail is supposedly a great place to see the quetzal and other various bird species. You’ll also pass through many different micro-climates.
However, the Quetzales Trail is very long and challenging, and hikers should be in good physical condition to attempt it. It’s 7 kilometers (4.34 miles) and takes 4-5 hours to hike one way, and it’s at a pretty high elevation ranging from 1,800 to 2,500 meters.
The trail begins in Boquete and ends in Cerro Punta or vice versa. It takes 4 hours to hike one way. You can also leave from Boquete, hike half-way, and then return to Boquete.
Should you do this hike alone?
Locals recommended NOT doing this hike solo.
16. Hike El Pianista Trail
PRICE: I think it’s $0 | LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Moderate to Challenging | LOCATION: Google Maps
The El Pianista trail is less popular than the previous two on this list, but those who hike it rave about it. Perhaps its lack of visitors is due to there being no waterfalls or views and some bad history. It’s the trail that the two Dutch girls mysteriously died on in 2014. Was it an accident or murder? Police say accident but lots of evidence also points to murder.
The El Pianista is a moderate to difficult hike that takes you through a cloud forest and along the Rio Pianista. You’ll be surrounded by clouds, trees, plants, and chirping birds. It’s about an 8-9 kilometers (6 miles) hike that takes around 2-5 hours to complete depending on who you ask. According to hikers I met who did the hike, it’s not as steep as the Lost Waterfalls hike but it’s definitely muddier.
It’s recommended that once you make it to the summit, where you’ll see a memorial to the two Dutch girls, that you then turn around and not go further. Everyone I spoke to said that there’s no view from the top as you’re enveloped in clouds. Locals say that the reason the girls died was that they didn’t stop at the summit and kept going. I don’t know whether this is true or not. No one really knows what happened.
Also, it’s easier to get lost on this trail than others. There’s no signage and there are a few forks where you need to either go right or left. Make sure to have Maps.Me on your phone so you won’t get lost.
Should you do the hike alone?
Other people who have done the hike mention not seeing any other hikers along the way.
All the locals I spoke to also recommended at least bringing a guide with you.
How to get to El Pianista Trail
Take a colectivo (van) from in front of the Bruna Supermarket. You’ll be dropped off at El Pianista Restaurant, where the trail begins.
You can find a guide with Full Adventures Boquete for US$45. Minimum two people, though.
17. Do the Hanging Bridges Hike
ENTRANCE FEE: US$30 | TIME: 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm | WEBSITE: Tree Trop Mountain Resort | LOCATION: Google Maps
Another way to experience the cloud forest is by doing the Hanging Bridges’ hike at Tree Top Mountain Resort. There are six hanging bridges throughout the hike that allows you to look down on the forest.
It’s also a great place to see the resplendent quetzal. I did see one here, but it was pretty far away and I was only able to get a side shot of its red belly and feathers. Two other travelers I met saw two quetzals.
It’s not an easy hike, though. It’s 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles down some steep stairs.
My favorite thing about this hike was all the bright green moss and colorful fungus growing everywhere.
The thing I didn’t like about the hike was that Tree Top makes you go with a guide. This can be helpful if the guide points out birds, plants, animals, and such. But it can be pointless if the guide, like mine, spends most of his time on his phone.
You cannot get lost on this hike as there’s only one trail.
How to get to the Hanging Bridges
Tree Trek will pick you up from your hotel for free and then drive you back to the center of Boquete.
18. Hike to El Mirador for Stunning Views of Boquete
COST: Free | OPEN: 24/7 | LOCATION: Google Maps
On the eastern outskirts of Boquete is a hidden lookout point with stunning views of Boquete and the surrounding area.
There’s a covered stairway that goes up to the lookout point (the bottom right corner of the above photo). It’s a good workout walking up the stairs but a pretty easy one going down.
Use the phone app Maps.Me for the route to the Mirador. Don’t use Google Maps for this; its route is wrong. When I asked locals on my way to the Mirador on how to get to it, they didn’t know what I was talking about. Then I showed them a photo of the covered walkway, and they instantly knew what I wanted. So it’s a trail mainly for locals and not for tourists, which makes it even more special.
19. Hike to the top of Volcan Baru
ENTRANCE FEE: Free if entering at night
Probably the ultimate hike in Boquete is the one to the top of Volcan Baru, an active but dormant volcano. At 3,474 meters (11,398 feet), it’s the highest point in Panama. The last time this volcano erupted was 500+ years ago.
If you’re really lucky, you can see BOTH the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean from the summit. The best time to experience this is at sunrise. About half the people I asked who did the hike in March saw both oceans. For the other half, it was too cloudy.
While staying at Bambuda Castle, I met a lot of people who did this hike at night! They started at midnight and hiked up the volcano for 5.5 hours before getting to the summit to see the sunrise. Most people said that the hike up was hard due to lack of sleep and the difference in altitude of 2,000 meters and being at 3,000 meters above sea level. However, for everyone, the hike down was the most difficult part.
I asked at Boquete Outdoor Adventures about doing the hike, and they said they no longer do it because it’s illegal to hike the volcano. That’s why tour companies in Boquete do not offer guided hiking tours to the summit. They only offer 4×4 jeep tours to the top (see that section here). Very strange since I met lots of people who did the hike (without a guide).
How to get to the start of Volcan Baru
You can book a shuttle or taxi to the start of the trail. Bambuda Castle advertised a shuttle for US$9 (+tax) to the trailhead. Other travelers I met hired a taxi to take them to the beginning of the trail.
When I was staying at Bambuda Castle, around eight people were going one night on the hike.
20. Take a jeep to the top of Volcan Baru
PRICE: US$115 | START TIME: 3:30 am | WEBSITE: Boquete Outdoor Adventures | LOCATION: Google Maps
If you don’t want to hike Volcano Baru in the middle of the night, what can you do?
You can take a 4×4 jeep to the top to see the sunrise. Some tours even come with breakfast at the top. But be aware that it’s freezing at the top (0-5 degrees Celsius). Several travel agencies offer this tour for around US$115.
The jeep leaves at 3:30 am and it takes 2 hours to get to the top for the sunrise at 5:30 am and for the ability to see the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Like I said before, about half the people I met said that it was clear enough to see both bodies of water.
The owner at Boquete Outdoor Adventures said that the government no longer allows guided hikes up to the summit. They could only bring them by 4×4 jeep. This is strange since I met lots of people who hiked up alone in the middle of the night.
21. Go Whitewater Rafting
PRICE: US$65 (through travel agencies) US$75+ (through hotels) | TIME: All-day | WEBSITE: Boquete Outdoor Adventures
One of the most fun things to do in Boquete is to go whitewater rafting. I met a few people who did this tour and they all said it was the best thing they did in Panama.
Panama has some of the best rivers for whitewater rafting and their tours are cheaper than those in Costa Rica.
The most popular river is the Chiriqui Viejo River near the Costa Rican border and about 1.5 hours from Boquete. It’s a great place to see wild animals like monkeys, birds, and iguanas and it’s open all year round. The runs are class II and III rapids.
You can book your tour with Boquete Outdoor Adventures. When I visited the travel agency, they were selling their rafting trips for US$50 (a $15 discount) for walk-ins. A really good deal that I regret not taking them up on the offer.
22. Go Ziplining in a Cloud Forest
Just like in Costa Rica, you can also go ziplining in Panama. And for much less than what you’d pay up north.
There are a couple of places where you can partake in this activity: Tree Trek Mountain Resort (US$65) and Finca El Oasis (US$65).
With Tree Trek, you’ll be on the border of La Amistad National Park. Their zipline is 4.5 kilometers long with 12 cables and 12 platforms. I’ve heard from people who went ziplining at Tree Trek and they all loved it. You zipline high up in the cloud forest.
Tree Trek picks you up from your hotel, which is fabulous if you don’t have a car because the resort is high up in the mountains. You can sign up through your hotel or a travel agency, or book directly online through their website.
At Finca El Oasis, you’ll be inside Volcan Baru National Park and on the slope of Volcan Baru. They have 8 cables. Ratings on Google Maps are high at 4.9/5.
23. Enjoy a Whole Day of Fun at Tree Trek Resort
PRICE: US$30 – $65 | TIMES: 8:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm | WEBSITE: Tree Trek | LOCATION: Google Maps
One of the best ways to spend a whole day in Boquete is to visit Tree Trek Mountain Resort. The resort has transport that will pick you up at your hotel and drop you off in the center of town at various scheduled times during the day.
Located on the border with National Park La Amistad, Tree Trek Mountain Resort has loads of things to do:
- Coffee tour – US$30 (8:00 am and 10:00 am – can sell out a few days before)
- Tea tour – US$30 (1:00 pm)
- Rum tour – US$30 (10:00 am and 1:00 pm)
- Ziplining – US$65 (8:00 am, 10:00 am and 1:00 pm – can sell out a few days before)
- Hanging Bridges – US$30 (8:00 am, 10:00 am, and 1:00 pm)
- Birdwatching – $65 (8:00 am)
I did the coffee tour and hanging bridges tour. The coffee tour was really good (see the coffee tour section of this post). The hanging bridges could have been better if I had had a better guide. It’s actually a tough climb up some stairs for 1.5 miles and down some stairs for 1.5 miles.
There’s also a restaurant and coffee shop at the resort. Try the Geisha coffee for only $5 here.
You can stay overnight here as well.
24. Scoot Around Boquete on an Ebike
COST: US$30/bike rental or US$50-$75 for tours | TIMES: various | LOCATION: Google Maps | WEBSITE: Soul Planet Cycle
Another fun thing to do in Boquete is to roam around the area by e-bike.
You can rent your own bike for around US$30 for 3 hours and go around on your own or you can go on a guided e-bike tour.
Soul Planet Cycle has three e-bike tours:
- Adventure Tour (US$50 | 10:00 am and 2:00 pm | 2 hours) – This is a 22-kilometer (14-mile) guided bike ride through Boquete town and the surrounding area. The route goes from the northern end (Los Naranjos) to the southern end of Boquete (Alto Boquete). Along the way you’ll see a waterfall, a coffee plantation, a lava formation that’s now a rock-climbing wall, and the Caldera River.
- Flavors of Boquete Tour (US$75 | 9:00 am | 4 hours) – This is a 30-kilometer (18-mile) tour with 7 stops. The tour allows you to sample locally produced food and drink. It includes stops at Boquete Ecological Park, a local Farmer’s Market, a place to sample coffee, a chocolate tasting, San Ramon Waterfall, a strawberry smoothie shop, and a place to try some craft beer. A friend did this tour and she said it was good. She liked that she was introduced to some interesting places, but it was perhaps too expensive. This tour requires a minimum of 2 people.
- Scenic Lunch Tour (US$65 | 11:00 am |3 hours) – I’m the type of person who travels in order to try new foods, so this tour really appealed to me. Basically, your guide takes you on a scenic route through the Jaramillo Bajo area to a restaurant on the outskirts of Boquete. The view is supposed to be fab. The problem with this tour is that you need a minimum of 2 people.
A friend did one of their tours and she said it was fun and she learned about some places that she never would have known about on her own, but it was also too expensive.
Don’t just show up at Soul Planet Cycle. Contact them beforehand. I tried renting a bike from them by just showing up at their place, but they were closed. Happened to me with another bike tour company in Panama City.
25. Explore Boquete on an ATV
PRICE: US$70 – $330 | OPEN: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm | LOCATION: Google Maps
One of the most fun things I’ve done in my travels was to ride around on an ATV (all-terrain vehicle). ATV Adventure Tours does ATV and UTV tours around Boquete to coffee farms, hot springs, and Volcano Baru.
They have no website; only an annoying Instagram page with a list of tours and their prices. You can contact them via Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, and email.
Here’s what I got from them when I texted them via WhatsApp (look on Facebook or Instagram for their number):
- Scenic tour (1 hour) – US$70/1 person or US$90/2 people
- Eco Tour (2 hours) – US$90/1 person or US$110/2 people
- Coffee Tour (3 hours) – US$150/2 people
- Hot Springs (5 hours) – US$190/2 people
- Volcano Baru (6-7 hours) – US$330/2 people
UTV TOURS (4 people):
- Scenic Tour (1 hour) – US$100
- Eco Tour (2 hours) – US$150
- Coffee Tour (3 hours) – US$200
- Hot Springs (5 hours) – US$375
- Volcan Baru (6-7 hours) – US$500
Riding an ATV is a lot of fun and the learning curve is not steep. They’re also safer than riding around on a scooter. The one problem I had with them was that they really damaged the nerves in my fingers.
26. Go Rock Climbing
PRICE: FREE or US$45 with guide and gear | LOCATION: Google Maps
Just outside of Boquete town is a natural wall of basalt called Los Ladrillos (the bricks), where you can go rock climbing. You can go on your own (go by e-bike or take a taxi) or sign up through Full Adventures Boquete for a 3-hour tour that includes a professional guide and all essential climbing gear (US$45).
27. Go horseback riding
COST: US$35/hour/ US$50/2 hours
Another thing you can do while in Boquete is to go horseback riding in the hills around the city. I didn’t do this but I saw advertisements for it all around Boquete.
You can book a horseback riding tour with Full Adventures Boquete.
- US$35 – 1 hour; US$50 – 2 hours
28. Go swimming at Los Cangilones Mini Canyon
PRICE: US$35 with tour or US$2 per vehicle | LOCATION: Google Maps
One of the best ways to relax and go for a swim in Boquete is to visit Los Cangilones Mini Canyon. Los Cangilones means “the buckets” in Spanish and it’s basically a natural slot in a canyon where the Esti River flows through.
You can jump from the cliff into the water and the current will take you down to a shallow part of the river.
It’s popular on the weekend with locals.
How to get to Los Cangilones
You can sign up for an afternoon tour through Boquete Outdoor Adventures (US$35).
Or you can go yourself. According to a local, you need to first take a bus to David (1 hour) and then another bus to Gualaca (1 hour). Then it’s around a 15-20 minute walk from the bus terminal in Gualaca.
29. Take a day trip to the Gulf of Chiriqui National Park
PRICE: US$75/tour | TIME: All day | WEBSITE: Boquete Outdoor Adventures | LOCATION: Google Maps
Want to visit a white sandy beach and do some snorkeling while in Boquete?
You can easily do both with a day trip tour to the Gulf of Chiriqui National Park. Many travel agencies in Boquete offer the tour once a month. I wanted to do this tour, but it wasn’t going while I was iin Boquete.
The Gulf of Chiriqui National Marine Park is about 1.5 hours away from Boquete. It’s a 14,740-hectare marine park and includes about 25 islands where you can find howler monkeys, turtles, and birds.
Tours usually include snorkeling around one of the islands as well as time spent on the beach just relaxing.
30. Relax in the hot springs of Los Pozos de Caldera
ENTRANCE FEE: US$3 | LOCATION: Google Maps
Looking to rest your sore muscles after a day of hiking or a hike up Volcan Baru?
In the town of Caldera are some natural hot springs called Los Pozos del Caldera that you can visit. They’re located on a private farm. You’ll find two hot spring pools to soak in as well as a nearby river to cool off in.
I heard mixed things about the hot springs from worth it to not worth it.
Full Adventures Boquete does tours to the hot springs for US$35, but they weren’t hopeful that they’d get enough people to sign up to actually do the tour.
How to get to the hot springs:
According to a local, take a minibus heading to the town of Caldera from in front of Bruna Supermarket in Boquete. You’ll then need to walk for about an hour to the hot springs. When you get to Caldera, use Maps.Me for the exact directions to the hot springs (termales).
Where to Stay in Boquete
Here’s the bad news about visiting Boquete:
Finding an affordable place to stay that’s not a hostel dorm is DIFFICULT!
The city doesn’t have enough affordable places to stay. If you want a private room for less than US$75, good luck! For budget travelers, there are hostels but they also get booked up fast.
So if you want something that won’t break your budget, you’ve got to book EARLY or just expect to pay a lot!
That’s when Panamanians descend on Boquete and as a result, prices rise and the best places get snatched up.
When searching for a place to stay, you might come across hotels located in “Bajo Boquete.” That means the accommodation is NOT located in the main part of Boquete. It will require a taxi ride to get to town.
If you can afford it, get a place with a good view of the mountains, especially one from your private terrace. It’ll make your stay even more special.
These were the average prices for Boquete in March 2023 (high season):
- Dorm room: US$20- $25
- Budget private room: US$65 – $75
- Mid-range: US$100 – $200
- Upper range: US$200 +
The BEST website for booking a place to stay in Boquete is Booking.com.
Here are my suggestions on places to stay in Boquete for every budget:
Best places to stay for Budget and Mid-Range Travelers
You’ll find that a lot of hotels in Boquete have both dorm rooms and mid-range private rooms (the same in Bocas del Toro). This is great if you’re on a budget as you get some of the cool amenities you’d find in pricier places like a swimming pool.
1. Selina Boquete
LOWEST PRICE: US$20 – $250 | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 8.8 (678 Reviews)
I stayed at Selina during the first part of my visit to Boquete.
Excellent place to stay for those on a budget and who can afford a bit more.
It’s in a perfect location in the center of the city, and it’s clean and comfortable. They’ve got a tour desk, restaurant, bar, fast internet, co-working space, fire pit, and hammocks.
Selina has dorm rooms, these cool hobbit-like private rooms (US$65-$75), and regular private rooms with private and shared bathrooms (US$150 – $250).
Most Selina Hostels are party hostels, but not the one in Boquete. There’s still the typical all-day loud club music and bar, but I saw as many older travelers staying here as I did younger ones.
If you’re a digital nomad, Selina Boquete is a great place to work. Good WiFi and comfortable co-working space.
But here’s the negative:
Unfriendly staff and overpriced tours. I was charged over US$37 for the Tree Trek coffee tour, while it’s normally US$30.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
2. Bambuda Castle
LOWEST PRICE: US$22 (dorm) US$80 (bungalow) | BREAKFAST: Not included (food is expensive) | RATINGS: 8.6 (1,300 Reviews)
Another budget and mid-priced option is Bambuda Castle. I stayed here during the second half of my visit to Boquete.
This is a great place to stay. It’s got a great social atmosphere and beautiful views. There’s a kitchen, a swimming pool, and a hot tub.
There are basic dorm rooms for budget travelers. For those with a bigger budget, the higher-priced cabins, bungalows, hobbit houses, and apartments are comfortable, private, and stylish!
A few negatives are that the Castle is inconveniently located outside of town so you need a taxi (US$3 – $5) or a private car to get to it or expect to walk a long way uphill. The other downside is that the common area is a bit rundown and not very clean.
Staff range from being surly and unfriendly to helpful and friendly.
P.S. It does sort of look like a castle.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
3. Buena Vista Boquete
LOWEST PRICE: US$57 | BREAKFAST: Not included | RATING: 8.4 (340+ reviews)
The Buena Vista Boquete was HIGHLY recommended to me by two people. Both absolutely loved the place. Marvelous views and a good price for Boquete. It’s located within walking distance of restaurants and shops. It was always fully booked during my time in Boquete.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
4. Honey and Butterfly Farm Stay
Lowest price: US$129/night | Breakfast: Not included | Rating: 4.94 (65 reviews on Airbnb)
I met a girl from Switzerland who was staying on this honey and butterfly farm. She loved her Airbnb!
There are little cabins surrounded by nature and with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The Airbnb located a bit outside of Boquete town–5-minute taxi ride or a 20-minute walk from Boquete.
Luxury accommodations in Boquete
You’ve got loads of options for more luxury and boutique-like places to stay. Most are found on the coffee plantations surrounding Boquete.
5. Inn the Coffeepot – Boutique Hotel
LOWEST PRICE: US$114 – $257 | BREAKFAST: Included | RATING: 9.6 (96 Reviews)
The CoffeePot Inn is a beautiful 5-star hotel located on a coffee farm. It’s got gorgeous views, friendly and welcoming staff, and an amazing breakfast.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
6. Finca Panda
Lowest Price: US$285 | Breakfast: Included | RATING: 10
If I had the money, THIS is where I would stay. Located on a coffee plantation, Finca Panda is a brand-new hostel. The photos are gorgeous—the design and the landscape!
They have family-style rooms that fit up to 5 people. You get your own private kitchen, an outdoor terrace with mountain and garden views and an outdoor jacuzzi on the terrace.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
7. Hotel Panamonte
LOWEST PRICE: US$210 | BREAKFAST: Included | RATING: 9.4 (62 Reviews)
The Hotel Panamonte is probably the most elegant and historic hotel in Boquete. It opened its doors in 1914 and since then several famous people have stayed there including John Wayne and Ingrid Bergman (Lonely Planet). The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of the restaurants and shops in Boquete. The rooms are stylish and comfortable and staff is friendly and welcoming. The restaurant on site is excellent.
BOOK YOUR STAY: Booking.com | Agoda
Where to eat in Boquete
Panamanian food: hit or miss?
Hit, hit, hit!
I loved the food in Panama. Hands down! BEST food in Central America. The flavors are more complex and richer than what I’ve eaten in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, etc…
And Boquete is a great place to try Panamanian food because it’s got some regional specialties that you can’t find anywhere else.
Here are my reviews of the places I tried while on Boquete (most were good but some were not so good):
(1) Donde Ghiselle (Panamanian)
Many locals recommended this restaurant to me. It’s pricey (US$15 – $20) but it’s soooooo worth it! The food here is traditional Panamanian (plus pizza) that was some of the best food I had in Panama. It’s also one of the few places that serve the Chiriqui dish dish “el mono’’ (the monkey), a very typical dish made up of rice, beans, and ropa vieja (shredded beef) and plantains—a lovely combo of savory and sweet. US$16 – $20 (Google Maps)
(2) Meye Bounore (Panamanian)
This place was recommended to me by a local. You can order off a menu filled with local and international dishes or you can do cafeteria style where you pick and choose different foods for a set meal.
I had the beef stew with hojaldre and elmojabano–very delicious! (Google Maps)
(3) Ngadre Gastronomia Restaurante (Panamanian)
Highly recommended restaurant with traditional Panamanian food prepared in an inventive way. Pricey but definitely worth it! (US$12 – $16 per entrée). (Google Maps)
(4) Restaurante El Sabroson #3 (Panamanian, Inexpensive)
This restaurant was my go-to place in Boquete. I ate here so many times that I lost count. Super inexpensive (US$4 – $6) and most of the time the food was delicious. You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner here. It’s cafeteria style so you pick and choose different foods such as a protein, salad, rice or noodles, and plantains. (Google Maps)
(5) The Fish House (Fish)
A VERY delicious and healthy place to eat is the Fish House. You guessed it! You can get fish here. It seems that the most common fish in Panama is the corvina—a saltwater fish specifically from Central and South America. It’s got a sweet and buttery taste kind of like seabass or it is seabass.
You can get it cooked in many different ways with different sauces. I got mine with lemon, capers, and garlic. US$10.95 – $12.95 per entrée. (Google Maps)
(6) Sugar and Spice (International, breakfast and lunch)
Go here for breakfast and lunch. You can get a delicious and hearty breakfast with coffee for around $7.00. The spinach and mushroom scramble was really good. The sandwiches were ok. Coffee was very good. (Google Maps)
(8) Buckle Tip Coffee (coffee)
Located next to the central plaza. Don’t leave Boquete without getting a cup of filtered coffee at Buckle Tip Coffee–either the Pacamara or the Geisha. Definitely get natural processed as well. (Google Maps)
(9) La Casa del Café (Breakfast, coffee)
This restaurant looks better than the food tastes. The food is overpriced and not all that great. The service is slow and staff isn’t very friendly. The coffee was decent. (Google Maps)
How to Get to Boquete by Bus
From Panama City to Boquete
There are no direct buses from Panama City to Boquete. BUT not to worry: it’s still easy to get to Boquete by bus.
- Go to the Allbrook Bus Station in Panama City (you can take the subway to the station)
- Buy a bus ticket to David from the ticket window that says “David”
- Make sure you have a Rapi-Pass card and make sure you have at least 10 cents on it (I’ll tell you how to get one below)
- In David, buy a bus ticket for Boquete (1 hour and every 25 minutes)
How to Buy a Rapid Pass in Panama City
In order to get on the bus for David at Allbrook, you MUST have a Rapi-Pass Card. Here’s how to buy one:
(1.) Go to a machine that looks like the one in the photo below (you’ll find them all over Allbrook Station). Buy a Rapi-Pass card for US$2. You can use the card for the metro buses and subway in Panama City as well as getting through the turnstile to get on buses leaving Allbrook Station to other parts of Panama.
(2.) You’ll get a Rapi-Pass card like the one in the photo below.
(3.) Then you’ll have to add money to the card. You need 10 cents to get through the turnstiles at Allbrook in order to get onto the bus. Ridiculous, I know, but that’s the way it’s done.
The card is NOT used to buy bus tickets for places outside of Panama City.
Multiple people can use the same card.
The minimum amount you can add to the card is US$1.
From Bocas del Toro to Boquete
Here’s how to do the bus (TOTAL COST: US$15.75):
- Take a boat from one of the docks in Bocas Town to Almirante (US$5)
- When you arrive in Almirante, walk to the Terminal de Buses a Panama (Google Maps)
- Take a bus to David (US$9) – 4 – 5 hours
- In David, take a bus to Boquete (buses leave every 25 minutes and take 1 hour – US$1.75)
Don’t trust the guys who try to help you when getting off the boat in Almirante by taking your luggage without asking you or saying that you need to take a taxi to the bus station. They will hassle you for money even if they didn’t help you with your luggage.
Tourist Shuttle to Boquete
I did the tourist shuttle, which cost me US$30. I booked it through my hotel and paid for the trip on the shuttle. Some hotels and hostels charge US$35. It covered the boat ride and the shuttle. Plus, it dropped me off in front of Selina in Boquete. It does 2 drop-off points.
The boat left Bocas Town at 12:00 pm and the shuttle arrived in Boquete at 4:30 pm. Easy and comfortable but twice as expensive as the public bus.
How to Get Around Boquete
For the most part, Boquete is small enough that you can get around on foot. If you need a taxi, there are lots of yellow taxi cabs hanging out around the central plaza or in front of Bruna Supermarket.
To get to places outside of Boquete town, there are 2 ways:
- Colectivo (white vans) from in front of Bruna Supermarket (Google Maps)
- Take a taxi – you can wave one down on the side of the road or get one around the central plaza or in front of Bruna Supermarket. I paid between US$3 and $5 to get to Bambuda Castle from Boquete town.
More Resources for Traveling in Panama
- Lonely Planet Panama Travel Guide – I use their guides whenever I travel somewhere
- Panama Tourism – Look for info on travel requirements
- Booking.com – Great website for booking hotels and hostels as well as private homes
That’s it for Boquete. I hope I’ve given you some ideas for your trip to Boquete.
If you don’t have time to do all 30 things on this list, here are my suggestions for the top 8 things to do in Boquete in order from the most important to the least important things to do.
- Coffee tour
- Try the geisha coffee
- Spot a quetzal
- Hike the Pipeline Trail
- Try the local food – El Mono and fresa con crema
- Go whitewater rafting
- Hike the Lost Waterfalls Trail
- Go to the top of Volcan Beru either by hiking or going by jeep
Where to go after Boquete?
- Bocas del Toro
- Panama City
- El Valle de Anton
- Coiba Islands
- San Blas Islands
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