Whenever I’ve got a serious craving for Panama, the first place that always pops up is Boquete. As much as Panama’s famous for its Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean beaches, the highland town of Boquete might well be the country’s best place to visit.
For adventurous travellers, there’s a whole metric ton of adrenaline-pumping things to do in Boquete from zip-lining to white-water river rafting. For tamer travellers, there’s plenty of opportunities, too, whether it’s sipping on coffee at a plantation with cloud forest views or spotting birds on a leisurely hike.
Not sure how to get started planning your trip? Here’s a quick guide to some of the best places to visit & things to see in Boquete…
Table of Contents
- What to do in Boquete: The top attractions & best places to visit
- Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Boquete
- Where to go in Boquete: A summary of the top points of interest
What to do in Boquete: The top attractions & best places to visit
Visit a coffee plantation
One of the true pleasures of any Panama itinerary is to cuddle up with a cup of black gold. Although not as famous for its beans as its neighbours Colombia or Costa Rica, Panamanian coffee is a worthwhile indulgence, and an absolute must while travelling through the country.
As the most popular stop along Panama’s coffee-growing belt, Boquete is the perfect place to feed your coffee cravings. And there’s no better way to do it that to visit a local coffee plantation.
There are plenty of coffee tours in to choose from around the Boquete region, but I’d highly recommend a visit to Finca La Milagrosa. What makes this plantation unique is its complete lack of modern equipment.
The plantation’s owner, Señor Tito, fashioned most of his equipment—from the sorters to the roasters—out of a variety of odds and ends including old car parts. Getting to see his inventions in action is an eye-opener to say the least.
At the end of the tour, you’ll be offered a chance to pick up a bag of Finca La Milagrosa’s special geisha coffee, consistently rated among the best in Panama. Take them up on the offer to get some of the best whole-bean coffee you’ll ever taste at a fraction of the price it would cost you to import it back at home!
Zoom through the cloud forest at Boquete Tree Trek
Now, I’m not normally one for extreme adventures. In general, I’m a grade-A chicken-shit with a debilitating fear of heights that keeps me off of ladders and anything higher than a couple metres without a solid handrail to prop me up.
Even so, going on a zip-lining adventure through the Panamanian cloud forest is something I won’t soon forget and is absolutely one of the best things to do in Boquete. (And I didn’t even close my eyes for it).
Located a couple kilometres above Boquete’s town centre in the hilly district from Palo Alto, Boquete Tree Trek features 4.5 kilometres of zip-lines zooming between canopies high above the forest floor. Brave all of 12 runs to get to the motherlode, a final 500-metre-long zip-line hanging hundreds of metres above ground and delivering some of the most epic vistas you could ever imagine.
Zip-lining a little too crazy for you? Boquete Trek Trek also offers tamer (but still super entertaining!) activities like a Hanging Bridges Tour, Coffee Cupping Tour, and a Bird Watching Tour.
Tackle Boquete’s hiking trails
Among the best reasons to visit Boquete is a chance to plow down its hiking trails. There’s no shortage of great walks spread throughout the region. Stick around Boquete for more than a couple days, and you’ll have a chance to check out a few.
Here are some of the top hiking trails around Boquete:
- White Rock Trail (Peña Blanca): Located in Bajo Mono, just a few kilometres north of town, this trail is among the easiest in Boquete. Be sure to bring along a pair of high-quality binoculars as the trail is the perfect option for less avid hikers to scope out some of the area’s most interesting birds and wildlife including sloths & howler monkeys. The end of the trail will bring you to a small waterfall cascading over white rocks.
- La Artilleria (The Fortress Hike): A challenging hike in the Alto Jaramillo area that rockets through the cloud forest towards a distinctive volcanic rock formation. Hikers who tough it out to the end will be treated to splendid views of mighty Volcan Baru and the Pacific Ocean.
- Sendero El Pianista (The Piano Player): Although not one of the most well-known trails in the area, this hike is definitely worth the effort. The trailhead begins at the Il Pianista restaurant near Palo Alto, moving through about 45 minutes of easy-going walking before hitting more moderately-challenging terrain. The last 30 minutes uphill is the hardest part of the trails. Hikers who stick it out will be rewarded with dramatic views from a summit buried deep in Boquete’s cloud forest.
- Sendero de los Quetzales: Often touted as one of the best hikes in Central America, this popular trail swings around the north side of Volcan Baru amidst the national park named after Panama’s famous stratovolcano. The trail is named after the Resplendent Quetzal, a spectacularly-coloured bird that’s native to the area. Complete the entire 9.6 kilometres between Boquete and Cerro Punta (about 4 to 7 hours depending on your level of fitness), and you might just catch one of these majestic birds in its element!
Power up Volcan Baru
If you’re searching for an epic outdoor challenge in Boquete, prepare yourself for Panama’s ultimate trek up Volcan Baru. This stratovolcano, soaring up over 3,475 metres, is the highest point in Panama. Completing this hike is no laughing matter, and should only be considered by those who are fit, well-prepared, and accompanied by a guide.
From the ranger station, it’s a tough 13.5-kilometre uphill to the summit of Volcan Baru. Most Volcan Baru hiking tours complete the first 12 kilometres on day one, leaving the last 1.5 kilometres for the morning after a night of camping out under the stars.
Guides will time your final ascent up Volcan Baru with the morning’s sunrise. Once atop the summit you’ll not only catch perhaps the most spectacular sunrises of your life, but, on a clear day, have a chance to spot both the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean from the same viewpoint. This is the only spot in the entire world where this is possible!
Where to stay: The best hotels for sightseeing in Boquete
Thanks to Boquete’s small size and excellent accommodations selection, you’ll never have much trouble finding a great hotel here. Shunning my usual preferences of central location, I’d recommend searching outside the town centre to find the best places to stay in Boquete. Those mountain views are just too amazing to pass up!
- The Inn at Palo Alto: An incredible hotel in the lofty Palo Alto area of Boquete offering spectacular mountain & river views. The service & guest experience here is off the charts.
- Boquete Garden Inn: Another lovely hotel in Palo Alto situated within an blissful tropical garden among jaw-dropping mountain vistas.
- Casa de Montaña Bed & Breakfast: A 5-star bed & breakfast offering fully-equipped studios. Chill out on your patio or terrace to tremendous views of the cloud forest and surrounding mountains.
Where to go in Boquete: A summary of the top points of interest
- Looking for the ultimate adventure? Don’t miss out on zip-lining at Boquete Tree Trek in the cloud forest above the Palo Alto area of Boquete.
- Searching for a challenging active holiday? Strap on your best hiking boots and undertake the difficult trek up Volcan Baru, Panama’s highest point, for some of the best views in Central America.
- Need a pick-me-up? Don’t leave Boquete without visiting one of the area’s famous coffee plantations. The unique Finca La Milagrosa is a great choice for a more traditional coffee experience and some of the best geisha coffee in Panama.