Boquete, also known as the “Valley of the Flowers”, is a small town tucked into the green mountain highlands of Panama about 60 km. from the border with Costa Rica. Its scenic location, temperature, and natural environment make it extremely popular with Panamanians, and with tourists from all over the world.
When most people think of Panama they typically think of canals, oceans and a tropical climate. But Boquete is a nice escape from your initial impressions of the country, part of the reason for its popularity among home grown Panamanians who know their country best.
Some of its landmarks include nearby Volcán Barú, a dormant volcano and, at 3,475 meters, the tallest point of land in Panama. Because of that altitude, Boquete is is refreshingly cooler than that of the lowlands. The Caldera River runs through the town, a river that has shaped much of its form.
And coffee lovers rejoice! Boquete is also the place to be if your days revolve around consuming cups of joe. Well known for its coffee, Boquete’s brew is judged by many to be among the finest in the world.
Recently, Boquete has become a beacon for expats around the world, but particularly for many North American and European retirees. Some 14% of its population are of foreign origin, according to La Prensa, a national newspaper. Expats are attracted by the comfortable climate, excellent potable water, and clean air, by the tranquility, and by Panama’s relatively low cost of living. The district itself contains a rather simple population of just around 20,000 residents. Cozy and easy to navigate by foot!
One other interesting bit of hijinks about the town: The word Boquete in Portuguese means the equivalent of oral sex, which incidentally makes the town a popular place of visit for Brazilian tourists.
The town is also a great place to experience some of nature’s wonders. There are many tour companies that offer guided trips through the mountains to see waterfalls, coffee plantations, the cloud forest, and Volcan Baru National Park. Hike the Quetzal Trail, one of the most famous trails in all of Panama, so named because it is the home of the rare Resplendent Quetzal. There’s also great river rafting on the Chiriquí Viejo– several companies offer 1/2 day and full day rafting excursions.
If that isn’t enough, you can also zip line through the canopy of the surrounding cloud forest, enjoy hot springs, or visit Paradise Garden, the only Wildlife Rescue Center in Panama. Listen to howler monkeys grumble in the trees and feast on local strawberries and oranges!
In town there is a jazz bar and several local hang outs that give Boquete a buzz after dark, despite its small town feel. Furthermore, the larger and affluent city of David is only a short distance away, making Boquete a nook you can escape easily if you feel the need to get out. There are several buses leaving every 45 min until 8 pm. Travel time is around 1 h and cost is just 1.45 USD, you pay when getting off.
Come and see what its fairly populous expat community already knows. Boquete is part of the road less traveled, but it’s one place that will also make you feel right at home.