Nestled in the verdant, mountainous highlands of Panama’s most western province, Chiriquí, the small town of Boquete sits on the Caldera River, just 37 miles from Costa Rica’s border. An almost enchanting region, the highlands of Chiriquí boast rainforest-covered mountains, volcanic peaks, orchid farms, coffee plantations, a dazzling array of flowers, countless bird species, quaint villages and eternal spring-like temperatures all under an ever-rainbow sky.
Boquete’s current population first settled around the early 19th century, hailing predominantly from North America and Europe; the coffee, fruit orchards and flowers that they planted still flourishing in the rich soil of Panama’s flower capital today. Today, the town boasts Panama’s largest expat community, the AARP (originally named the American Association of Retired Persons) having named it a top retirement spot, which, despite the numbers, still retains a friendly, small-town atmosphere.
Boquete’s main attraction is being one of the country’s top destinations for outdoor lovers, where you can hike; rock climb; whitewater raft and river kayak class IV and V rapids; enjoy eco-tours such as canopy zip line; or explore mountain roads and trails plus volcanoes, either on foot, horseback, mountain bike or four wheels – towering Volcán Barú, Panama’s highest peak at 11,400 feet, affording great views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea on a clear day. More leisurely ventures include touring rainforest and coffee farms – Boquete’s coffee-growing region El Salto, referred to as the “Napa Valley” of coffee, producing some of the highest rated java in the world; soaking in nearby Caldera River’s hot springs; visiting mountain villages; and enjoying the spectacular flora and fauna of the region including an array of vibrant flowers (lilies, carnations, sunflowers, etc.) and over 900 bird species such as the Resplendent Quetzal, the Maya’s sacred bird.
Aside from the surrounding nature, the town is delightful itself with its small wooden houses, bountiful flower gardens, meandering rivers, and a simple central park found in its town center, in addition to restaurants, coffee shops, bilingual schools, and handicrafts.
The town is also home to a vibrant music and art community; and the prominent indigenous Ngöble-Buglé people, comprising both farmers and artisans who fashion woven bags and garments of their native dress among other items.