Boquete might be most famous for its vast number of American retirees, drawing in hordes after AARP published a report naming it one of the best places in the world to retire.
Its reputation as a great place for the aged frequently overshadows another reality. Boquete is a true hidden gem of an adventure destination and provides some of the best things to do in Panama. With powerful rivers, steep mountains, and brisk breezes, it’d be tough to find a place more blessed with natural attractions. Whether you want to go river rafting, rock climbing, hiking, horseback riding, canyoning, waterfall rappelling and so much more – Boquete has it!
On top of all those adrenaline-inspiring activities, Boquete is home to amazingly fertile farms (and arguably the best coffee in Central America), and is just a few hours drive from some outstanding islands and beaches. It’s also one of the best places in Central America to learn Spanish, as it is extremely safe, easy to navigate, full of fun activities, and host to an amazing language program.
It is a town that truly has it all.
So if you’ve got just a week in Boquete, how should you spend it? By checking out a bit of all of Boquete’s beautiful offerings.
Get your sweat on by hiking Caldera Canyon
The Caldera Canyon hike was tough, going down and coming back up. The heat and humidity gave me a serious beating, and the steep grade of the hill made even the descent really difficult and slow-going.
But once I reached the bottom, all my hard work was worth it. Dripping with sweat, heart pumping, chest heaving – it felt amazing to strip my clothes off and jump into the cool freshwater pool that awaited!
The water of the pool was so clear that I could see all the way to the bottom, even at the deepest point. Seemingly strategically placed rocks were perfect for those brave enough to attempt cliff jumping, though I only chanced the smaller of the options. Yes, I’m a bit of a wimp.
Tour a coffee plantation
Boquete is known for its amazing coffee, and many of the locals are involved in its production in one way or another. Touring a coffee farm made me much more appreciative of all the work that goes into my morning cup of joe.
The coffee beans have to be carefully tended to while growing on the plant, picked, sorted, fermented, dried, processed, roasted, ground, and brewed. Whoa!
The coffee plantation tour visited Señor Tito’s Finca la Milagrosa, which produces 100% organic specialty coffee and is known for the famous Geisha coffee. The hands-on attention to each step of the process, and the very small batches were surprising to me. I had imagined coffee production as somewhat like a factory, very sterile, boring, and regimented. What I witnesses at Finca la Milagrosa was more like pure artistry.
Check out beautiful beaches in the Chiriqui Gulf
When I visited Boquete, I thought I’d left my beach days behind me in Bocas del Toro. Was I ever wrong!
One of the most beautiful beaches I visited during my stay in Panama was actually from my base in Boquete! With just a few hours in a comfortable van and a fun boat ride later, I found myself on a tiny, beautiful tropical island in the middle of the Chiriqui Gulf.
With just a few other people on the island, I could look out to the sea and seriously imagine I was a real castaway with the beach to myself. Only my situation was a lot better than being stranded, as a cooler full of refreshments and snacks awaited me.
Snorkel-lovers will be especially pleased, as friendly turtles and many species of fish await in the crystal clear waters. Sunbathers and swimmers won’t be disappointed either, as the soft swaying of the palm trees and ridiculously blue sea can’t help but put you to ease.
Brush up on your Spanish
I know what you’re thinking. Studying while on a trip? Ugh. But improving your language skills is an awesome way to leave a trip even better than you started it. And nothing gives you a sense of accomplishment like being able to apply your new skills in the real world, striking up conversations with locals and actually understanding.
Panama is one of the best countries in the world to learn or improve your Spanish. In general, Panamanians speak slowly, have an easily understandable accent, and don’t use too much slang. It’s a newbie Spanish speaker’s dream! Add to that low prices for an outstanding program taught by highly educated teachers and it’s even tougher to beat.
Habla Ya in Boquete has intensive group classes in the afternoon for 4 hours a day, or private classes scheduled to fit each student’s need. As a complete language learning dunce, I was worried about how I’d fare. Luckily, I found the group classes so fun and engaging that after a week I was shocked to find my language skills improved more than in 6 semesters of school!