Nestled under the watchful eye of the epic Baru Volcano in the Chiriqui Highlands, the quaint mountain town of Boquete is quickly becoming Panama’s most exciting destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Home to epic hikes, exotic wildlife and cascading waterfalls, there are endless things to do in Boquete, Panama, no matter how you like to spend your time.
I fell in love with Boquete and extended my trip there not once but twice! If you’re keen to discover what this adventure town has to offer, settle in with a Balboa (the best Panamanian beer out there 😉) and we’ll get started on the very best things to do in Boquete!
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19 Things to Do in Boquete, Panama
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1. Choose a Trail and Start Hiking
The number one thing to do in Boquete is hike. As an unlikely hiker myself, this is what first drew me to the wee highland town. There are countless trails easily accessible from town which cater to all abilities. Trail maps are available on maps.me and All Trails.
A few of the most popular include the Lost Waterfalls, the Pipeline trail, El Pianista Trail and of course, the hike up to the summit of Baru Volcano. Beware, the latter should only be attempted by fit hikers who have acclimatised to the high altitude conditions!
A Note About Safety…
Boquete is generally a very safe destination. It’s home to a burgeoning US expat population and the tourism scene is also rapidly growing. However, there have been incidents involving tourists in the past. In 2014, two girls went missing while hiking the El Pianista Trail. No one really knows what happened but it is always best to hike in pairs and stick to marked trails. If you can’t find a route map or don’t trust your navigation skills, hire a guide to be on the safe side.
2. Spot the elusive Resplendent Quetzal
The Resplendent Quetzal is actually the national bird of Guatemala, however, the highlands of Panama is a great place to catch a glimpse of it. During my time in Boquete, I got super lucky and ended up seeing Quetzals on three separate occasions, however, the locals told me that this is beyond lucky, especially during the time of year that I visited. Quetzal mating season (February to April) offers the highest chance of seeing the bird in Boquete as this is when they are most active.
While it is possible to see the exotic bird on many of Boquete’s cloud forest hikes, the Sendero de los Quetzales hike which it’s named after offers the highest chance. This hike closed in 2020 due to unprecedented bad weather which caused severe damage to the trail.
Maintenance works were delayed because of the outbreak of COVID-19 but are now underway. Officials seem to think that the trail will be reopened at some point in 2023. If you have an update on this, please let me know in the comments!
Also read: Spotting the resplendent quetzal in Panama.
3. Take a Tour of the Coffee Plantations
Embarking on a coffee tour is a great way to learn more about the complex process of coffee production. See the coffee trees up close, learn which cherries are worth picking and witness the drying process firsthand. Coffee cultivation is a hard job but well worth it for a cup of organic Joe!
Pssst! Have you heard about Geisha coffee yet? You’ll find countless coffee shops in Panama City claiming to sell the good stuff, A.K.A. Geisha coffee. Much of this coffee is grown in Boquete and is famous for its floral aroma. Try it if you get the chance!
4. Learn About Bees
For a unique experience in Boquete, head over to Boquete Bees and Butterflies to learn more about the butterflies and stingless honey bees of Panama. While the tour isn’t cheap (approx. $45USD per person), it is well worth it. Not only will you have the opportunity to see some of Panama’s most valued insects up close but you’ll also learn more about the butterfly breeding programme and honey trade.
The tour finishes with the opportunity to sample a range of organic honey – delicious! There is also a gift shop if you want to send pass on this liquid love to someone at home.
5. Visit the Hanging Bridges
Home to six hanging bridges, Boquete Tree Trek offers a novel way from which to explore the jungles of Boquete. These hanging bridges, ranging from 10 to 75 metres above the ground, showcase some of the best scenery in the area while at the same time offering plenty of opportunities to spot famous Panamanian wildlife.
While potentially not an activity for those who are afraid of heights (although I managed it so it is possible), the hanging bridges offer a novel day trip from town.
6. Go Horse Riding
When you head into town and see men on horseback riding through the streets, it is easy to forget that the days of cowboys are long past. However, these highland areas of Panama have retained much of their old charm and horse riding is a regular feature on the streets.
If you’re a horse enthusiast, why not embark on a horse-riding tour to Chiriqui’s mountains? The highlands of Caldera, a popular horse riding spot around 20 minutes from Boquete, is a wonderful area that is explored by few.
7. Take a Yoga Class
While Bocas del Toro is arguably the epicentre for yogis in Panama, the construction of a Selina hostel in Boquete is bringing mindfulness to the mountains! The hostel hosts both morning and evening classes on most days of the week with a talented English/Spanish-speaking teacher.
Guests of the hostel benefit from a discounted rate but classes are open to anyone. Pop into the hostel for the most up-to-date schedule.
8. Sip Tea on a Tea Tour
China might be the birthplace of tea as we know it but this is one drink that has gone global! Although Central America is more famous for its coffee production, there are some great tea tours around if you know where to look.
Head to the Camelia Sinensis tea plantation to learn more about the origin of this tea, as well as the harvesting process. At the end of the tour, you’ll be able to sample four different types of tea. The only thing that is missing is your biscuit of choice for dunking!
9. Summit Volcan Baru
Boquete’s biggest selling point is undoubtedly its proximity to the epic Baru Volcano. Topping out at 3,474 metres, Baru is the tallest mountain in the entire country and is a must on any Panama itinerary.
There are a couple of ways to reach the top. The first and most challenging is to hike up the rough dirt track road. The hike is around 27km out and back and is usually done at night so that hikers can take in sunrise views from the top.
Depending on how fit and experienced you are, the hike can take anywhere between 10-14 hours (there and back). As this is a high-altitude trek, it is not recommended for anyone who has not yet acclimatised, despite the actual trail being pretty easy to follow.
The alternative way to experience the volcano summit is via a jeep tour. These trips take you up the vast majority of the mountain, leaving you to hike the final 15/20 minute section to the summit.
No matter which option you choose, seeing the sunrise atop Panama’s highest point is a spectacle you’re unlikely to ever forget.
10. Find Adventure on a Rafting Trip
As the adventure capital of Panama, it probably comes as no surprise that Boquete is home to some epic whitewater river rafting. There are a number of rivers to choose from and many of the companies in town offer rafting trips. Tours can also be booked online in advance.
11. Get Tipsy on a Rum Tour
I’ll be honest, I didn’t know that Panama had such an association with rum. Still, any excuse to drink rum is a good one in my book! Another tour offered by the Boquete Tree Trek, a rum tour will cost you around $30USD and includes a few tastings.
12. Take a Dip in the Hot Springs
With so much hiking in Boquete, it is important to schedule a few rest days as well! One great way to do this is to head to the Caldera hot springs. While tours are available in town, it is also possible to get there independently if you are on a budget.
Jump on the bus for a couple of dollars and then pay the entrance fee (approx. $3USD per person). It’s a great way to rejuvenate after a few long days spent on the trails!
13. Make Chocolate
Because why on earth wouldn’t you? The Perfect Pair offers a 2.5-hour class which takes you through the chocolate-making process, leaving you with a very yummy souvenir at the end!
If this all seems like a bit too much effort, they also host tours where you can sample the cacao at every stage of the process. None of the work and all of the reward? Count me in!
14. Go Rock Climbing
If thrill-seeking is more your thing than eating your feelings, head out on a rock climbing tour. There is an epic natural climbing wall in the Bajo Mono area that many of the local agencies run tours to.
15. Zipline Through the Jungle Canopy
For a novel way to take in the views of Boquete and nearby Baru National Park, head to Boquete Tree Trek for a ziplining adventure! There is 4.5km of ziplines here and adrenaline junkies can tackle them in a range of positions, from sitting to the superman!
16. Get Your Heart Pumping on an ATV Adventure
An activity popular with local and international tourists alike, off-roading through the Chiriqui Highlands is a heart-pumping experience. Tours vary but many take you to off-the-beaten-track spots outside of town including waterfalls, hot springs and dense cloud forests.
Best done with a group of friends, this is a day of fun that you won’t forget in a hurry!
17. Spot Colourful Birdlife
Panama is known for its biodiversity and with approx. 1,002 species of bird, it is easy to see why birdwatching tours are so popular. If you’re a twitcher looking to expand your bird list or have a specific type you’re looking to spot, a tour with a local naturalist will help you get the most out of your visit to Boquete.
18. Cliff jump at Gualaca Canyon
Located around a 45-minute drive from Boquete is the little-known Los Cangilones de Gualaca, a narrow canyon which offers wonderful swimming and cliff-jumping opportunities. It might not be the easiest place to get to but if you want to relax in a beautiful spot with only nature for company, you won’t regret making the journey.
Taxi is the quickest way to get there or alternatively, jump on a bus to David and change for Guanaco. This will be way cheaper but the journey time will be much longer – it’s still possible as a day trip though.
19. Chill in Boquete Park
Little known by travellers, Boquete Park sits a couple of blocks back from the main street. It is a great place to relax with a book in the sun or spot nature. Loads of birds hang out here and there are also terrapins in the pond!
How To Get to Boquete, Panama
The transport infrastructure for travellers in Panama is still not as developed as in some other Latin American countries. Unless a shuttle service is offered from your original destination (usually only from tourist hotspots like Santa Catalina and Bocas del Toro), you’ll be required to return to Panama City and take a bus to your destination. There is no direct bus to Boquete from Panama City so travellers will need to take a bus to David and then transfer onto a bus to Boquete.
Boquete is close to the Costa Rican border and many travellers visit after crossing over. First, you’ll need to take a bus to David and then transfer onto a service for Boquete.
Where to Stay in Boquete, Panama
Owing to its growing popularity among tourists to Panama, accommodation options are springing up in Boquete all the time. The following options come highly recommended:
Selina: Home to the best yoga in town, the popular Latin American hostel chain offers a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. From dorm rooms to suites and the coolest tube rooms you’re likely to find – a stay here cannot be recommended highly enough!
Bambuda Castle: Offering a novel stay which you won’t forget in a hurry, Bambuda Castle is a surprisingly budget-friendly option which allows travellers to book a bed in an actual castle!
Boquete Tree Trek Mountain Resort: It might not be the cheapest place to stay in Boquete (by quite a long way) but the morning nature views are hard to beat. With some of the town’s best tours on your doorstep, there are a lot of perks to basing yourself here!
Have you visited Boquete, Panama? Share your experience in the comments!