Rolling into the cool and crisp mountainous climate of Boquete after spending the last month on the beaches of Colombia and Panama was a breath of fresh air (literally). This small town in the highlands of Western Panama is the home to Panama’s most famous coffee region and is a favourite spot amongst US retirees. But don’t let that deter you! I fell in love with Boquete as soon as I arrived. And while I was only meant to stay 3 days I ended up extending my stay for a week (this may have also had something to do with me staying in one of the best Boquete hostels – Jungla Experience). From hot springs to fantastic hikes and some of the world’s best coffee here are all the things to do in Boquete Panama before you leave.
1. Hike volcÁn barú
Ok, I’m going to be honest. Even though this is definitely one of the best things to do in Boquete Panama. And pretty much everyone who visits the town has this at the top of their Boquete Panama activities list. I didn’t actually hike the volcano. I’m still too scarred from my terrible experience hiking Volcano Acatgenango in Antigua. However, I did meet many people in the hostel who did it, and judging by their experiences I can definitely recommend the night hike up the volcano to watch the sunrise over both the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. It’s actually one of the only places in the world you can do it.
HOW TO GET TO VOLCANO BARÚ: Jungla Experience Boquete Hostel can book a joint shuttle for you for $5 per person. And it’s a good option if you’re a solo traveller. However, the best option is to get a group of four together and take a taxi which will cost you around $12. Which once again Jungla Experience can organise for you. There is also the option of taking a 4×4 all the way, but this costs about $150 US. As it’s a night hike that takes 4 – 5 hours you should leave between 11pm and 12am in order to make it to the summit by sunrise, depending on your speed.
COST: Entrance to the national park is $5.
2. gobble up a strawberry split at fresas mary
When researching what to do in Boquete Panama, Fresas Mary came up on every list, so I just had to check it out. Fresas Mary as per the name is a cafe serving all things strawberry. Including freshly picked strawberries, Shakes, ice cream, yoghurt and the incredible strawberry split. This alternative to the banana split is packed with strawberries, ice cream, cream, peanuts and chocolate syrup. It’s the perfect way to reward yourself after that tough volcano hike.
HOW TO GET TO FRESAS MARY: It’s an easy 40-minute walk from Jungla Experience or town or a quick 5-minute journey by bus or taxi.
COST: The strawberry split will set you back around $3.
3. Hike to the lost waterfalls
The Lost Waterfalls hike was definitely one of my favourite things to do in Boquete Panama. The hike itself was absolutely beautiful taking you through dense jungle with nothing but the sounds of the birds around you and the few hikers you met along the way. The three waterfalls are some of the prettiest I’ve seen in Central America. And even better, the 3-hour round trip hike is pretty easy. The recommended path is to start with waterfalls 2 and 3 and then loop back and finish with waterfall 1.
HOW TO GET TO THE LOST WATERFALLS: From town find the area where all the local buses are leaving from. Just ask a local, they should be able to point it out. Once you’re there ask for the next bus to Bajo Mono (la proxima bus a bajo mono). Once on the bus ask them to drop you at the ‘tres cascadas’. The bus ride takes about 30 minutes and will set you back $2.50 USD
COST: Entry to the hike is $7 USD. And the return trip on the bus will cost you $5. USD
4. get your zen on with daily yoga
One of the best parts of staying at the Jungla Experience Boquete Panama Hostel was the almost daily yoga classes for $5 USD. Now, I’m pretty much a yoga beginner. But starting every morning with a slow and stretchy Hatha yoga class with Alejandro at Yia Yoga absolutely made my time in Boquete. Even if you’ve never tried it before, I definitely recommend having a crack while you’re here. As the hostel has a special $5 deal there’s no reason not to! The classes with Alejandro run Monday – Thursday and Sat and Sun at 9:00am. You can find information on all classes offered by Yia Yoga here.
HOW TO GET TO YIA YOGA: Yia Yoga is located in the centre of town. if you’re staying at Jungla Experience it’s a 60 cent cab from the hostel.
COST: $5 special price for hostel guests. If you aren’t staying at the hostel a class costs $13. Which is super reasonable!
5. check out the Tuesday farmers market
If you’ve been travelling for a while and need a taste of home, don’t miss the Tuesday morning Farmers Market in Boquete town. There are a large array of stalls selling things like homemade sourdough bread, falafels, fresh organic vegetables, jams and spreads and some amazing gluten-free bakery treats. The market runs from 9 am to 12 pm every Tuesday in the centre of town. And the best part? Free samples! This was definitely one of my favourite things to do in Boquete Panama.
HOW TO GET TO THE FARMERS MARKET: The Farmers market is held in the centre of town at the Boquete Community Players Theatre & Event Center.
COST: Free + how much you decide to spend on gluten free cinamon scrolls!
6. try the world famous geisha coffee
Coffee in Boquete is taken very seriously. There are a tonne of coffee shops all serving up delicious brews. My favourite of the bunch is the Coffee Widow (La Viuda Del Cafe). Sounds ominous I know. But no need to worry. The coffee here is delicious and they are one of the cafes in town serving up the famous Geisha coffee. This coffee is grown around many flowers which gives it its floral taste and is said to have a flavour profile that is similar to tea. It’s also one of the most expensive coffees in the world. Head here for a delicious latte or cappuccino or treat yo’ self and try a cup of the famous Geisha for $6.
HOW TO GET TO THE COFFEE WIDOW: The Coffee Widow is located in the centre of town and can be found easily using Maps.me or Google Maps.
7. Get your steam on in the Caldera hot springs
There’s no better way to relax those tired hiking muscles than soaking them in these steamy natural hot pools that are surrounded by stone walls. The Caldera Boquete hot springs on the outskirts of town are one of the top things to do in Boquete Panama for that reason. There are some agencies offering tours for $15 – $20, however, it’s really easy to visit yourself and the entry to the pools is only $2.
HOW TO GET TO THE CALDERA HOT SPRINGS: Head to the bus stop in town and ask for the next bus to Caldera. There are not too many buses leaving each day, so head there the day before to ask for the times. Once on the bus ask them to drop you at ‘la entrada a Aguas Termales’. Once you’re here it’s a 40-minute walk to the pools. Your other option would be to get a group of people together and take a taxi.
COST: $2 + bus.
8. Take a tour of a coffee farm
You can’t travel to Boquete Panama, one of the best coffee regions in the world, without getting a behind-the-scenes look at how they make the stuff. The coffee tour with Finca Dos Jefes is a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon. It includes an overview of the history of coffee in Boquete, walking tour of the farm and factory, a coffee tasting and a demonstration on how they roast their beans.
HOW TO GET TO FINCA DOS JEFES: As part of the tour, they offer free transportation to and from the farm.
COST: $30 p/p
9. SCALE THE CLIMBING WALL
On your way to the Lost Waterfalls hike you’ll probably drive past a cool looking rock wall. Climbing that wall is actually one of the top things to do in Boquete Panama. Now I’m not a massive fan of heights so I avoided the wall myself. But a few people at the hostel did it with Boquete Outdoor Adventures and loved it.
HOW TO GET TO THE CLIMBING WALL: As part of your tour they offer free transportation to and from the wall.
COST: $45 p/p
WHERE TO STAY IN BOQUETE PANAMA: I was lucky enough to get a room at THE JUNGLA EXPERIENCE HOSTEL BOQUETE. Initially I was only meant to stay for 3 nights, however, I liked it so much i stayed for a whole week. and while a lot of Boquete Panama hotels and hostels will say they are a home away from home Jungla experience actually is. They have a washer and dryer both free to use; the most well-equipped kitchen I’ve ever seen in a hostel (they even have an ice maker!); no bunk beds; and a Netflix room with comfy couches. They also have family dinners on Tuesdays and Fridays and complimentary breakfast. However, the best thing about this hostel is the owners Greg and Mamie who make you feel completely at home and encourage such a social atmosphere. They are also experts on all the best things to do in boquete panama. I made friends here that I kept on travelling with, which was lovely.
for the latest rates and availability for the jungla experience click HERE.
DAILY BUDGET: As most THINGS TO DO IN BOQUETE PANAMA can be done pretty cheaply I was able to stick to my $35 AUD per day budget. I also cooked a lot of my own meals and joined in on the family dinners at the hostel
how to get to Boquete Panama: If you’re arriving from Panama city you can take a local bus 6 hours from albrook station to David for around $16. And then the 45-minute bus from David to Boquete for $2.
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