The tiny mountain town of Boquete, Panama ended up being one of my favorite small town type places in the world. It’s a bit off the grid, but a wonderful place to escape for nature lovers and hikers.
Boquete is most famously known for Volcan Baru, the highest mountain in Panama. It’s a 12 hour roundtrip hike to 11,000 feet that many people embark on starting around midnight, in order to catch the sunrise.
This hike is an day long adventure, and it will leave you feeling exhausted. Make sure you hike Volcan Baru when you know it is going to be a clear day. Otherwise, you’ll see only white, foggy clouds at the top (which ended up happening to my friends!).
If you’re not up for a strenuous hike, there are plenty of other options of how to spend your time in Boquete.
8 a.m. Wake up early and head over to Sugar and Spice, a cheap breakfast restaurant that offers eggs, fruit, breakfast specials, coffee, and sandwiches. Their menu has a lot of delicious options available, and is the perfect place to kick start your day.
9 a.m. Walk around the tiny town of Boquete. There is a small town square where a lot of people spend their time relaxing and soaking in the sun. When I was there, they were celebrating the founding of the District of Boquete, 104 years ago. There was live music all weekend, parades, and other small festivities to commemorate this day.
10 a.m. Enjoy some of the fresh fruit in the local produce stores. Stop over at any of the grocery stores and pick up some food for lunch, which you’ll be eating on your hike! Shop around at some of the stands run by locals, too. They have beautifully crafted jewelry and bags for sale. Don’t forget to haggle!
11 a.m. Get ready to hike! Take the bus or catch a cab to The Lost Waterfalls, three beautiful waterfalls set in the mountains of Boquete. There’s a $5 entrance fee which you pay a bit into the hike.
This was one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done. Thick, white clouds shrouded the tops of the mountains in the distance, signaling rain. The string of the massive mountains made me realize how small I was comparatively. The moist, cool air soothed my sunburn, as if I had applied a healing balm to it.
Birds called to each other, their chirping breaking the silence in a pleasant way. My feet left small divots in the damp ground, the only sign that I had even been there.
The trail turns upwards into the mountain, getting steeper and muddier as it continues. Sandbags are carefully placed in order to aid hiker’s steps along this beautiful trail.
The first two waterfalls appear out of no where. The rhythmic crashing of water against a small pool is immediately medative. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll be the only one there. Enjoy your lunch at the second waterfall. There is a makeshift seat made of tree trunk to sit and enjoy the view!
By the time the third waterfall comes around, you’ll be left feeling like you trekked for hours on end through dense wood and jungle. The paths becomes incredibly steep, so make sure your hands aren’t full! There are ropes on the trail to help hiker’s gain their balance and pull themselves upwards.
Wear clothing and shoes you don’t care about. You’re going to get dirty. I was covered in mud by the time this hike was over!
2 p.m. Catch a bus or cab back to Boquete, and relax for a bit outside.
3 p.m. Take a cab to the Hot Springs. You can either have the cab drop you off at the beginning of the road or drive down the road for an extra few dollars. My friends and I decided to walk. The driver said it was a 20 minute walk, but it ended up being 40 minutes! I didn’t mind, but still.
The walk is along a dirt road, with horses and cows grazing on either side. The cows stared at us as we walked, as if warning us not to take a step closer (to be honest, I felt a bit threatened). We eventually crossed a river that had turned a light shade of tan from dirt seeping into it.
When we reached the hot springs, we paid the $2 entrance fee and entered. There are two springs, and one is way hotter than the other. They are very tiny, so try and go when there is no one else in them. They’re very natural hot springs; there are rocks at the bottom and twigs floating around.
Relaxing in the hot springs is the perfect activity after hiking The Lost Waterfalls. There is also a chilly river next to the hot springs, which is also swimmable. Beware, it’s freezing!
6 p.m. After heading back to your hotel or hostel, walk over to Black & White Tapas de Espana, a small tapas bar with a great happy hour. The sangria is only $3 and it comes in a very large class.
Afterwards, head over to Big Daddy’s Grill for some mouthwatering fish tacos for $9. It comes with two and a side of either rice and beans or a salad. They’re huge, very filling, and will leave you wanting more.
8 p.m. More relaxation time! I stayed at Mamallena Hostel. There was a courtyard where everyone would hang out. It created a fun and friendly atmosphere which I truly loved.
10 p.m. Time to go out! Although Boquete is not really known for partying, there are a few nearby bars to go to and have a drink. While I was there, there was an outdoor club with a huge stage, a DJ, and a huge dance floor. This is where my friends and I ended up.
Be sure to dance, make new friends,
And have fun!