Depending on the person you ask, Boquete, Panama is known as the “Napa of coffee” or the “Bordeaux of coffee.” This lush floral scented town is in a valley surrounded by plateaus, volcanos and mountains. When the geisha coffee plant is blooming, the smell meanders through the flower filled town.
Cooler temperatures make it a welcome retreat for people living in Central America who want a break from the warm days.
WHAT TO DO
Volcan Baru National Park – On a clear day from the top of the volcano you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. There are jeep tours that leave around 2 or 3 am and drive you to the top for sunrise. Otherwise, it is a 12 hour hike round trip, so you will have to leave at sunrise to get back before sunset.
The Lost Waterfalls – on the slopes of Baru Volcano. A moderate hike, but there are a few places where it’s steep with ropes to help you climb. You can swim in two of the three waterfalls. 1.5 hours total to get to third waterfall, so three hours round trip. No facilities. Bring everything you may need such as water, food, sunscreen, etc.
WHERE TO STAY
Boquete is filled with amazing accommodations for every price point.
Finca Lerida – A beautiful winding mountain road leads you to Finca Lerida. There is a a working coffee farm on the grounds, as well as a coffee farm next door. It is actually cool enough here because of the altitude to leave the windows open for a fresh breeze and maybe even crank up a fire in the fireplace. Unique because it can make for a romantic getaway, yet is still very kid friendly with a small playground. It is about 20 minutes outside of Boquete, but up the mountain. The food is good, so you don’t feel obligated to rush into Boquete unless you want to.
Panamonte – Enchanting garden hotel near the new bridge in Boquete. Tip: the back rooms are new and large and surrounded by gardens. In the main hotel, they have a large sprawling room in the corner. The restaurant here is amazing and the staff is lovely. Oddly enough, the hotel has a New England feel.
Valle Escondido Resort – Lush beautiful grounds in a valley with mountain views. The service is phenomenal, and the food is good. My kids loved playing in the hillside amphitheater and in the babbling brook by the restaurant. Although this is a large resort with a lot of amenities, only downside is the room was just average. But still a great place to stay.
Hotel Ladera – Not in the main downtown area of Boquete, but just across the new bridge, so walking distance from all the shops and restaurants. A small roadside motel design, but the staff is friendly and the rooms are small but nice. Doesn’t have the amenities of some of the other hotels, but a solid choice if you want to be in Boquete.
Haven Spa Hotel – Adults only, but Haven is a great place to go if you want a relaxing spa/yoga experience without a hefty price tag.
If you are wanting to experience the Boquete charm, I do not recommend staying anywhere near Alto Boquete or East towards David because of traffic and police stops, this area can end up being 25-30 minutes from Boquete. Also this area is approximately 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than Boquete, so you’ll miss the cool mountain air and possibly have to take a change of clothes every time you drive into Boquete.
WHERE TO EAT
Panamonte Restaurante – The best food in Boquete. Enchanting inn charm with flavorful food. Casual chic. Service was on point.
Tre Scalini – Italian food in a warm inviting place. Service and food were amazing.
Butcher – Great for steaks. Right next to Tre Scalini, so you can check out both menus.
Boquete Fish House – It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but it is the place to go for seafood.
Isabella’s Bakery – Small bakery not too far from the main Boquete park and children’s playground on the side of town by the river (Parqe El Topezón).
Otto Italiana – Small cafe with Italian dishes as well as a small store.
Kotowa Chocolate – Local made chocolates next door to Otto Italiana. They also sell geisha coffee if you are on the hunt for a bag of it to take home.
Cafe Ruiz – Coffee shop with many coffee varieties including geisha coffee, be aware that there are multiple locations, and the one out by the Country Club isn’t a cafe, but just a factory.
HOW TO GET THERE
Copa Air and Air Panama fly into David, which is only about a 45 min drive to Boquete. From David it is a simple easy drive on a flat straight 4 land road, until the last mile or two when it turns to two lanes. If you are planning a trip to Boquete and have the time, you might also want to consider a jaunt to Bocas Del Toro which is also amazing. You could also fly in and out of Bocas Town and drive to Boquete. I think once you are one the mainland it is about a 3 hour drive through mountain roads from Boquete to Almirante, Panama.
Buses can take you from Panama City to Boquete or San José, Costa Rica, but it is a long drive, and you will probably have to switch buses in David. Habla Ya, a Spanish school in Boquete has good info on transportation options.