Boquete, also known as the valley of flowers is a beautiful town located in the western part of Panama. Geographically speaking, Panama to me, sits in a weird position. What you think should be north or south, is actually east and west, and east/west is really north/south. It’s often confusing because I say that Boquete is in the west, but to me because it sits south of Costa Rica, it makes sense that it would be northern Panama. It’s not.
That little geography lesson out of the way, let’s get in to some of the amazing things that we found to do here and if you’re a digital nomad, where you can go for some workspace if you don’t want to take up space others might need to eat or drink their coffee. Many of them are on the tourist route, but are not really taken advantage of.
Since we travel with a bonafide teenager, finding things that are still interesting to him are getting increasingly difficult.
Old School Arcade- We did find Panama Barcade. It sounds weird, but they have old-school arcade games like Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, Pac-Man… Not the remakes if you’re our age and older or if you’ve ever watched Stranger Things, you know what I mean. They also rent PS5, PS3 and Xbox consoles (onsite) if you want to play the newest video games. Anyone ages 13 and up can go in and play, and for the people who don’t want to play video games, they have a bar and occasionally some snacks too. Check out the clip below.
Hot Springs- Caldera hot springs is a short 45 minute drive away, it’s $3 per person to enter and the Hot Springs, while rustic and small, are actually quite hot. We’ve been disappointed by some of the hot springs in Costa Rica and Guatemala and didn’t find any that we were able to access in Nicaragua without reservation, so this was really a great treat. There is a nice river, just a short walk away from the hot springs, the springs flow into them, so the water nearest the shore is actually quite warm. The further away from shore, the cooler the water. Very refreshing. To access the hot springs, you have to take a short walk onto private property and pay the owner directly. We went during the week and it was not really very busy. People don’t tend to stay long, but if you’re looking for a nice soak for an hour or two, you may just be pleasantly surprised. There are no changing rooms or bathrooms, so you might want to keep that in mind. You can check out our video below.
Fairgrounds- The fairgrounds holds the flower festival every Mid-January. After the festival, the fairgrounds still boast a wonderful array of beautiful flower sculpture gardens. The entry fee is $1.00 per person and is a beautiful little walk, especially for little ones, it’s kinda like Alice in Wonderland… Of sorts.
El Explorador- This is a personal garden that the owner’s have opened up to the public. The cost is $5 per person, and you can easily spend a couple of hours just taking in the beautiful backdrop of the mountains as the clouds roll over and shroud the town in a blanket of white. Or just hang out in the little park that has a nice long slide and swing set. The garden uses a lot of up-cycled clothing and accessories to create garden art and sculptures. We walked around for a couple of hours just taking in the beauty of the colors and marveling at all the sculpture-art around. Kaden found a trampoline, like, immediately upon entering and played on that for a good half hour.
Lost Waterfalls Hike- This was one of my personal favorites. There are 3 waterfalls that are pretty hidden. The hike up is not for the feint of heart. To access the waterfalls, you have to hike a pretty easy trail, but it’s long and steep. Once you get to the top, there is a $10 entrance fee (it’s on private property) per person. The trail from there becomes moderately difficult. The first waterfall isn’t too hard to get to, but in rainy season, you’ll really need good hiking boots, and walking sticks as the hike will get really wet, muddy and slippery. Keep in mind, the trails have some steep parts, mostly seen at the 3rd waterfall, where you literally have ropes to help you climb up and down. You’ll use tree roots and large boulders to get up and down in some places. So if you don’t want to get dirty, don’t come to this trail. The trails are pretty well marked, but on the way back at the second waterfall, we did encounter a lot of people who ended up off trail onto something that looked like the trail and had a lot of difficulty getting back up to the first waterfall. It’s not uncommon, you’ll just have to do a little tree climbing.
Boquete Tree Trek Adventure Zipline- Kaden loves to zipline. We’ve done it in almost every country we’ve been to. It’s $65 per person (yeah, expensive), and they shuttle everyone up to their resort where they have a series of 14 platforms and 12 ziplines. They run like a well oiled machine. It’s about 1.5 hours on the ziplines. We had 4 guides and a group of about 20 of us. It was all very safe and organized… Until you get done and you go up to the restaurant. The restaurant was grossly understaffed and the people behind the bar, which was barely big enough for 2 people to work was in a frenzy as 4 people tripped all over each other trying to get caught up with drink orders. Mostly coffee drinks. It took over 40 minutes for us to just order 3 coffee drinks with only 2 people in front of me in line, and another 30 minutes to get them. By the time we got our drinks, our shuttle was ready and nobody advised us that the shuttle was even loading or leaving, thereby stranding us with a beautiful mountain view next to a wood burning fireplace as we waited an hour and a half for the next shuttle. Not the worst thing, unless we had planned something else for the day, which we hadn’t.
Volcan Barú- From the top of the mountain, on a clear day, it’s said that you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. To the “north” you can see Costa Rica, as it’s only an hour away. The road up is steep, and a little treacherous in places.We tried to drive ourselves, but the Park Ranger told us that the road was recently closed to Personal Vehicles for construction and the only way up is to hike and to do that you have to make a reservation 48 hours in advanced. We were all a little sick and still recovering, so we didn’t get to do it. It’s about 8 miles to the top of the crater, an hour by car if you get to go up in one. You can schedule a tour that will take you up to the top too. We’ve heard from a lot of people that the road is really bad on the way up, scary in a vehicle, even. People that have done the hike say the hike is amazing, and if you’re lucky when you get to the top you’ll see both oceans, and a lot of people do the sunrise hike just to avoid the cloud cover, it’s cold at the top, so come prepared.
Gualaca Canyon- This is a slot canyon that you can rock jump from. Clean, refreshing water. Gets busy on the weekend and only $4 per person to enter. Great way to spend a few hours or a day. It takes a couple of hours to get there and either you need to rent a car or book a tour, it’s easily accessible and you can book a tour with a local agency if you need to go that route for transportation and don’t want to try to figure out the bus transport in Panama.
Kiki Waterfall- About 2 hours from Boquete, off of possibly the worst paved road in all of Central America, is the tallest waterfall in Panama. During the wet season, it’s nearly impossible to get down to the bottom of it because there is so much water spray and the trail gets really slippery and muddy. There aren’t a lot of hand rails or safety guards to keep you from slipping right off the edge just yet. It’s on private property and costs $3 per person to get in. You can get a guide if you like, but it’s not necessary and they work off of tips. The man who owns the property says no foreigners go out there because the roads are awful and they don’t know about it. He does get a lot of Panamanian tourists on the weekends. If you have your own gear, he’ll let you camp on his property for $8 per person and that includes access to the waterfall. You can’t tell from the pictures, but as you swim in these waters, we mere humans look like little peanuts. See our video below!
Boquete Bees and Butterflies- They have fresh, local honey. 30 different varieties and adding more all the time. They have honey infusions as well. They offer three different tours, ranging from $6 to $45 for the VIP that includes everything. You get to taste the different types of local honey and learn about the different types of bees and the plants they pollinate. They have a butterfly sanctuary and lab where they breed butterflies, a cafe onsite that sells coffee drinks and snacks as well as an entire storefront dedicated to the local honeys they produce.
Jungla Wildlife Refuge- The amazing staff here will give guided tours during the hours of 11 am -3 pm. These animals are being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild. In the event they can’t be released back into the wild, they will find a forever home for the animal or they will keep them at the refuge until the animal dies. They are always looking for volunteers for just about everything. The cost is $25 per adult unless you’re Panamanian, then it’s $10. Children ages 3-12 are $15 and Panamanian children are $5. It saves to be local…
Mi jardin es tu Jardin– Here is a beautiful garden that is private property opened to the public. We weren’t asked to pay, but the hours vary. They say they open at 10, we drove by at 10 and they were closed, but at 2 pm they were open. You just have to drive up and see if the gate is open. Great way to spend some time taking pictures of the flowers, birds and other creatures making this their home, such as bees and butterflies, hummingbirds etc…
These are just a few things in and around Boquete. They also have an animal rescue called Dog Camp Boquete where you can go and volunteer for a day or an hour or however long you want. They are located out by the Caldera Hot Springs.
Javier Madge: 6965-9423
Magaly Bustamante: 6830-6858
There is the Ecoparque for families with young kids. They have a petting zoo, slides, walking trails and a picnic area. There are numerous coffee tours, a bunch of different hikes, chocolate tastings, rum tastings and there’s even a small artesian market and shuttles to Bocas Del Toro which is about 3.5 hours away. There is no shortage of things to do in Boquete. You just have to figure out how much time you have to explore.
As far as digital nomads, there is pretty good wifi throughout Boquete. Pretty much pick a coffee place and sit down to enjoy a cup and catch up on some work. If you’re looking for a little more private work office and space, there are 2 places I recommend.
1) Selina- They have a co-working space that you can pay for by the day, week or month. They will issue you a key card for access, and there is a nice space where you can get complimentary coffee and tea and you can bring in snacks to put in the fridge. There are even telephone booths if you need to take a call and meeting rooms if you’re collaborating on a project. It’s pretty nice. They charge $10/day or 60/week. Not sure about the monthly rate. Of course, you can sit at the front or in the restaurant and use the guest wifi for free, but at least purchase something, no matter how small. They have two different setups, one that offers private desks and each of those requires a reservation, unless you go on the weekend when nobody is using the co-working space.
2) Dekobe Cowork- They have a pretty nice setup, but they’re too expensive for my taste. They charge $15/hour, $189/week and $499/month. I’ve rented houses down here for a month for just a little more than that and the wifi has been outstanding. I’m not sure it’s worth the monthly price and when you get great wifi for a fraction of the cost at Selina, I would choose Selina. But choose which one is right for your situation.
As always, these adventures may not be for everyone, and some of them are pretty remote. But if you’re up for an adventure, check some of them out.