magazine's 2005 Retirement Guide selects Boquete as
one of the 5 best places in the world to retire.
Boquete used to be one of Panama's best kept secrets.
All that changed in 2001 when the magazine of the American
Association for Retired Persons also chose Boquete
as one of the top places in the world for
Americans to retire, a rating based on safety,beauty,
climate and cost-of-living. A scenic mountain town
in highlands of West Panama, Boquete is also a world
class tourist destination-a flower-filled valley village
with gourmet coffee farms on its slopes, spectacular
mountain views and springlike weather year round.
year the Boquete Flower and Coffee fair draws
more visitors and it looks like they are planning
a big turnout this January. The fair grounds are
used only once a year for this special event that
features beautiful floral displays and handicrafts
from all of Central and South America.
Flowers fair will generate more than $2.5M
with an increase in the budget for year 2008
of 500 thousand dollars, the works of reconstruction
of lands of the Flowers & Coffee Fair in
Boquete, that every year attracts for the month
of January the visits of many national tourists
as well as foreigners, due to their charming
climate and landscapes. The president of the
Patronage of the Flowers & Coffee Fair,
Edilberto Beitía, expressed that for
next year, the fair will count on new attractions
in the different gardens, including varieties
of flowers brought from abroad.
HOW TO GET THERE: By air, car or bus.
You can fly Aeroperlas
Aereo from Albrook Airport to the nearby city of
David. Airfares are around $100 round trip. From David,
you rent a car or take a 45 minute taxi ride to Boquete.
It also is an easy 7 hour car trip from Panama City
or you can take a bus ($15) from the Albrook Bus Terminal.
WHERE TO STAY
There are two options- stay in the village or up on
the mountainside. A stay in a village hotel offers walking
distance proximity to riverside fair grounds full of
flowers, Boquete town sights and good restaurants.
In the Village and Near the
Verde- Round cabins in a peaceful setting with European
charm. A very short distance from the village, next
to a lovely river with mountain views Panamonte
Inn and Spa: In the village, the Gran Dame of all
Boquete hotels, tasteful decor, garden setting, great
on-premise restaurant, fine social area and bar.
Valle Escondido: Beautifully appointed riverside
bungalows with kitchenettes, direct TV and fireplaces in
Valle Escondido Resort Community
Cabinas Via Lactea- Just two minutes
from town, lovely cabins set in a tropical gardens next
to a river, all with fully equipped kitchenettes.
Above the Village:
For a "close to nature" experience
with spectacular mountain views, you can stay at three
small hotels with views that look out on the 10,000
feet Barú volcano and surrounding mountains:
La Montana y el Valle - The Coffee Estate Inn, Villa
Marita or Los Establos.
La Montaña y el Valle - The Coffee Estate InnThe
Coffee Estate Inn is a small place with a big reputation-the
subject of feature articles in the Los Angeles Times
and San Francisco Chronicle among others. Nestled in
an orange grove and working coffee farm, the Inn is
owned and run by Canadian couple who are personable
and attentive hosts. The Inn, designed to be a romantic
getaway, is a favorite place for honeymooners and couples.
The bungalows have panoramic mountain views and gourmet
meals are served by candlelight.
Villa Marita -Perched on a beautiful plateau that looks
up at majestic Volcan Barui. Villa Marita is for everyone
including the whole family. Reasonably priced country-style
chalets each have a bedroom, a sitting room and a picture
window with a mountain view. The common lodge has a
terrace with panoramic village and mountain views and
a comfy lounge. Owner Rodrigo Marciacq, a Texas A&M
graduate, is a gracious and knowledgable host. He and
his wife Priscilla serve family-style meals with fresh
greens from the Villa's hydroponic farm.
Los Establos is a small, elegant hotel designed for
couples only with romance in mind. Nestled on a hillside
above the village of Boquete, it features stunning mountain
views, a flower filled landscape, an outdoor jacuzzi,
a tree house for adults.
For the backpacker and budget minded Boquete has a numerous
pensions and economic hotel options. The Lonely Planet
Panama guide has a list.
WHERE TO EAT Boquete Bistro : Featuring continental
foods flavored with the sauces and spices of a true
chef. Prices are reasonable and the servings generous.
Housed in a historic building with a full wall mural
by a famous Panamanian artist from 1952 on Main St.
Owned and operated by Loretta from Aspen, Colorado
Santa Fe Bar and Grill: The Santa Fe
offers affordable burgers and Southwestern US style
food in a beautiful setting along the river side and
next to Boquete's flower- filled fair grounds. You will
also find a very popular bar with pool tables and foos
ball. It always time to party at the Santa Fe.
WHAT TO DO
Boquete Tree Trek-
An exhilarating, adrenaline rush ride-
glide through 3 kilometers of the canopy of a century-old
cloud forest high above pristine rivers, waterfalls
and landscape bordering Amistad National Park and the
Coffee Farm Tours
Best Coffee: Boquete is home to a number of
"specialty" or gourmet coffee farms. The special micro-climates
of Boquete grow the world's finest gourmet coffee. Hacienda
La Esmeralda recently won first place at two international
cupping competitions and set an online coffee auction
record when it sold for $21 dollars a pound.
Take a fascination tour of a coffee
farm and the processing plants which prepare the coffee
bean for consumption. The coffee farms are set on beautiful
mountainsides with the coffee bushes growing in banks
on steep slopes. All tours end with a delicious cup
of gourmet coffee or a "cupping" which is the coffee
equivalent of a wine tasting.
Coffee Farm Tour Options: Café
Ruiz: From their roadside coffee shop, Café Ruiz
offers an excellent and inexpensive tour of their farm
and processing plant. Kotowa
Coffee Estate Kotawa is the source of gourmet coffee
sold at the airport. Their beautiful coffee farm features
two processing plants- one antique and one modern. The
tour ends with a "cupping".
Water Rafting for Everybody
Our family took a white water rafting trip offered by
Hector Sanchez's Chiriqui River Rafting. Mr. Sanchez
and his certified rafting staff come highly recommended
based on a perfect safety record after 20 years in the
business. They offer everything from a safe and fun
trip down the river that any family can enjoy to more
challenging "first ascent" for adventures for experts.
Many consider the Chiriqui Viejo River one of the 10
best rivers in the world.
Eight members of our family made the trip in one raft
(steered by an on-board guide) along with two kayakers
providing additional safety support. It was a thrilling
all day trip including 4 hours of rafting broken by
a break for a riverside picnic lunch. We sometimes sped
and sometimes drifted down the scenic river. It was
as exciting as any ride at Disney World and it lasted
a lot longer.
Horseback Riding and Scooters
Boquete is surrounded by mountain roads
and is the ideal place to ride horses or whiz around
on a scooter. Gringo Scooters in town offers scooters
by the hour and your hotel host can tell you where you
can rent horses by the hour.
Hiking and Nature Tours
Seeing a Quetzal for Sure
In Boquete there is a birding guide by the name of Chago
who is one of the few people who know how to call a
quetzal- the holy grail of American birders. Chago is
famous for his quetzal viewing tours on the slope of
Baru Volcano. Panama is the last place where it is relatively
easy to see a quetzal, considered the most beautiful
bird in the Americas. When we took his tour, Chago promised
us we would see five quetzals. We spent an hour meandering
through a grove of special trees high up on the volcano
as Chago made his bird calls- and better than his word-we
saw not five but seven quetzals. Chago told us of people
who had made 20 trips in Costa Rica trying unsuccessly
to see this rare, wonderful bird. In Boquete Chago guarantees
you will see a quetzal anytime of the year, or he will
refund you part of your tour fee. Jane from the Coffee
Estate Inn reports that between December and May of
2003, all of their guests, without exception, saw between
4 and 12 quetzals on a single tour with Chago. Chago's
cellular phone number is 620-2187 and home phone number
The geography of the land surrounding
Boquete is a hiker's dream. There are public trails
throughout the area, which have been used by the farmers
for generations.The forests are magnificent. As you
gain elevation in one cloud forest nearby, you pass
four distinct types of vegetation. Enjoy exuberant greenery
and picturesque views, including waterfalls. You can
go with a guide or you can hike the main roads yourself.
Strolling Around Town The village lends itself to easy strolls. You
can visit the riverside fair grounds with prize winning
flowers displays, the small Huaca Museum, handicrafts
shops, coffee shops and dine at one of Boquete's fine
restaurants. A must-do is a visit to "My Garden is Your
Garden" a beautiful private garden of local, wealthy
family filled with whimsical figures made of flowers.
Resort Communities More and more people from around the world
are deciding to make Boquete their paradise on a more
permanent basis. It is hard to imagine a more ideal
place for a permanent home, or second home. In fact
Modern Maturity the magazine of the AARP selected Boquete
as one of the top four best places in the world to live
outside the United States, a rating based on safety,
beauty, climate, infrastructure, stability and cost.
Boquete has an ever growing number of residential projects.
Prices are about half of anything comparable in the
U.S. and also less than Costa Rica.Two of the best are
Valle Escondido and Cielo Paraiso.
Escondido is the original premiere resort community-the
dream-come-true of an American developer who fell in
love with Boquete and this hidden valley. Valle Escondido
is a planned, architecturally attractive residential
community with all the amenities you would expect from
a world class development including a 9-hole golf course,a
spa, a quaint shopping village, riverside cabins and
villas offering overnight and longer stay accommodations.
Paraiso- On a plateau with spectacular 360 degree
views of mountains and ocean, Cielo Paraiso is an exclusive
resort community of estate residences with a golf course
designed by Michael Poellot opening in 2007