When most people dream of Central America, the first image that comes to mind is laying on a white-sand beach under the sun with the waves lapping at your ankles. But that’s only a small part of the picture when it comes to this fascinating region.
Case in point: Boquete.
No, there are no blissful beaches here for escaping your winter grind to work on your sun tan. But that doesn’t mean that this small highland town in Panama shouldn’t be high on your Central America bucket list.
Looking for More Panama Info? Read More:
- Complete Panama Backpacking Guide
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- Tribal Gathering Festival Review + Guide
- Complete Guide to Bocas del Toro / Where to Stay in Bocas del Toro
- Volcan Baru Hike: My Experience + Tips
- Lost and Found: A Jungle Hiking Hostel in Panama’s Mountains
Why Visit Boquete, Panama?
Barring its lack of a coastline to frolic upon, Boquete is as fantastic a winter getaway as it gets. All year round, the average temperatures here sit at a balmy 24 to 26ºC. Unlike other popular destinations in Panama like Panama City and Bocas del Toro, Boquete never gets too hot. Like Medellin in Colombia, Boquete’s a city of eternal spring.
Best of all for all the snowbirds hoping to escape the cold, Boquete’s at its hottest and driest between January and March when the worst of the winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere is at its peak.
On top of its weather, Boquete offers plenty to see & do. From searching for wildlife in a cloud forest to hiking up a volcano that’s the highest point in Panama, your schedule will always be full in Boquete. (If that’s what you want, of course!)
What to do in Boquete
Detaching from Panama’s beach-bummin’ reputation, Boquete is the perfect place for travellers who can’t sit still. The scenery here is simply jaw-dropping, and the best way to experience it is to throw yourself into it head first. Here are a few ideas for your trip to Boquete:
Visit a Coffee Plantation
Thanks to its highland climate, Boquete sits in Panama’s premier coffee-growing region. There are many coffee plantation tours you can take. The country’s most prestigious java, geisha coffee, is grown here.
Although originally from Ethiopia, geisha coffee in Panama has become one of the world’s most elite. The best-of-the-best in geisha can fetch hundreds of dollars per pound!
A good way to skip over the inflated world market prices is to visit a local coffee farm. There are plenty to choose from, but I’d wholeheartedly recommend Finca la Milagrosa.
Unlike other coffee plantations in the area, Finca la Milagrosa still sticks to old-school methods of production. The tour guide will take you through the owner’s ingenious machinery (fashioned mostly from spare car & tractor parts) that made this small farm a top coffee producer in the area.
Best of all, you’ll get to top off the tour with an oh-so-decadent cup of geisha coffee. Be sure to grab a bag of heavily-discounted geisha (whole beans, of course!) to share with your friends back home.
Ziplining at Boquete Tree Trek
Now, I’m generally not one for these types of activities (a debilitating and irrational fear of heights will do that to you), but I absolutely loved ziplining at Boquete Tree Trek. Located in the cloud forest above Boquete, this adventure outfitter delivers some of the most adrenaline-pumping ziplining you’ll experience anywhere!
The 12 zip lines span over 4.5 kilometres. At any given moment on your journey, you’ll be suspended anywhere between 30 and 60 metres (100 to 200 feet) above the forest floor. On the final run, you’ll zoom along a zip line half a kilometre long, hitting speeds up to 60 kilometres per hour!
Despite any anxieties you might have, I assure you that the views of the cloud forest & the surrounding mountains from the zip lines are nothing short of spectacular and well-worth fighting your urge to chicken out.
Even if you can’t hack the heights and the speed, Boquete Tree Trek offers plenty of other activities like a bird-watching tour and a hanging bridges tour through its lovely cloud forest surroundings.
Hike up Volcan Baru
For travellers who want to take their Boquete trip to the next level, there’s no better way than to take on the mighty Volcan Baru. This volcano, wedged almost directly in the centre of the isthmus, is the highest point in Panama. Needless to say, you shouldn’t expect a walk in the park!
Although some travellers attempt the hike alone, the safest way to tackle Volcan Baru is with a group. Most guided tours start the trek at night, finishing the bulk of the trek before camping out just a few kilometres from the summit.
In the morning, you’ll set off before sunset to complete the last leg. Once atop, you’ll witness one of the most glorious sunrises of your life.
If you happen to catch Volcan Baru on a clear day, you’ll also have the rare privilege of seeing both the Pacific and the Atlantic (Caribbean Sea) from the same point. It’s the only place in the world where this is possible! There are also easier forest hikes to do if you aren’t up for a whole volcano.
Where to stay in Boquete
If you’re searching for the best accommodations in Boquete, I can’t recommend the Inn at Palo Alto enough.
Located in the Palo Alto area above the town of Boquete, the garden-like Inn at Palo Alto is simply sublime. Waking up to breakfast & a coffee with views of the forest, river & Volcan Baru might well become one of your favorite simple pleasures in Boquete.
On top of that, the expat owners & management understand hospitality to a tee. They’ll arrange everything you need in Boquete from tours to onward transportation, and ensure that your stay is nothing less than perfect.
Thanks to Ryan for the guest post!