Boquete-Sign Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life From time to time, we get asked about our Boquete favorites – so here’s our list for folks planning a visit here. This is just a beginning, and we’ll add to/update it over time.

  • Hiking the Lost Waterfalls, Pipeline, Los Quetzales, or El Pianista trails in the cloud forest above Boquete
  • The “secret” swimming hole on the Chiriqui Nuevo river. It’s pup heaven for our dogs and a wonderful place to cool off on a hot day. Not easy to find, but we can tell you all about it if you’re interested.
  • JaWakTa. No words can describe the fabulosity of this bi-level swimming hole/waterfall just a short drive from Boquete (and thanks to our friend Bond McCamy for figuring out the best way to get there!).
  • Los Cangilones de Gualaca. OK, so we haven’t been here yet – but we’ll call this our “fave spot that our friends all love that’s high on our list to check out.” Near the town of Gualaca south of Boquete, this natural swimming hole was created when the Rio Esti carved deep, vertical walls in the surrounding rock. We’ll make it there one of these days!
  • The canopy tour/zipline or the hanging bridges hike at Boquete Tree Trek
  • Whitewater rafting on the Chiriqui Viejo river

For directions and more information on any of these, visit:

  • Boquete Outdoor Adventures – great tours at a reasonable price.
  • Boquete Travel Guide – Our friend Andrea Cook has put together this excellent reference, which includes detailed directions to many of the above places. FYI, Andrea also runs an outstanding travel agency, Viaje Vacations.
  • Our friend Jere McCormick’s blog and Facebook page. Jere does a guided hike every Wednesday and Friday, open to all. She’s a treasure trove of knowledge about hiking trails and other aspects of the natural world here.
  • Finca Dos Jefes Coffee Tour. Host Richard Lipner not only knows his coffee, but he’s committed to sustainable
    IMG_6537-1 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
    John tries his hand at roasting coffee on the Dos Jefes tour

    growing practices that most benefit the land and the people working on it.

  • The Boquete Bees tour. This beautiful property is a haven for bees and also a working coffee finca. You’ll learn amazing but true facts about bees and how critical they are to our lives – and the medicinal properties of raw honey. Of course you can buy said honey right on the premises. There’s also a recently opened butterfly house.

 CdeM Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life Casa de Montaña Bed and Breakfast. Full disclosure: hosts Manzar Lari and Terry Richmeier are good friends of ours, but if you think we’re biased, check out their stellar Trip Advisor rating. They really roll out the red carpet for their guests, and if you’re planning a move to Boquete, they’ll help you get oriented.

Boquete Garden Inn (another wonderful place; we stayed here on our first trip to Boquete in 2010). Also, Hotel El Oasis and The Haven Spa Hotel.


Casa Valhalla. This cozy house is perfectly located just a short walk from downtown Boquete and consists of four apartments of varying sizes. We lived here for a month when we first arrived in Boquete, and it had everything we and our dogs needed to get our feet on the ground in Boquete and find a more permanent home.  It’s also a great place to meet other pet-owning “newbies”; some of our best friends today are people we met at CV. Warning: it books far in advance, especially during high season.

cropped-img_1207 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
On the porch of our apartment at Casa Valhalla
Panamonte-Bar Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
The Panamonte Bar (photo courtesy Hotel Panammonte)

The Hotel Panamonte. Hands-down the best place to enjoy an adult beverage in front of the roaring fire on a grey, rainy cloud forest afternoon.


RetroGusto (oh, the pork chop!). Runners-Up: the Panamonte, El Oasis, or Colibrí


You can’t go wrong with Boquete Sandwich Shop – excellent all-day breakfast at a very reasonable price, and they have been known to serve up a mean Bloody Mary. Runners up: Sugar and Spice, Olga’s (at Punta del Encuentra), La Karetta

IMG_7657 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
Kotowa Coffee cafe in the CEFATI

Boquete Brewing Company. Well, it’s the only brewpub in town (so far) but it recently moved to a great new location and the beers are getting better all the time. It’s a fun place to meet up with friends and then hop across the street to Apizza or RetroGusto.


Apizza, from the same folks who brought us RetroGusto. Crispy wood-fired crust and just the right amount of topping, at a very reasonable price. Runner-up: Il Pianista.


El Sabrosón #3. Basic Panamanian fare, served up generously at rock-bottom prices. Runners-up: Restaurante Las Orquideas, KM 35, El Sabrosito in Dolega between Boquete and David

IMG_8057 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
The “6-foot appetizer” at RetroGusto

Boquete Fish House (when it’s open – we can’t figure out their hours lately), Tree Trek restaurant (what a view!), Big Daddy’s (awesome fish tacos and margaritas, and it’s fast becoming a happening night spot), Senor Gyro’s (one of the few dog-friendly places in town but it’s under new management – seems that major changes are afoot), Il Pianista (lovely riverside setting)


Morton’s Bakehouse. Other great bakeries: Sugar and Spice, La Ceiba

Chox-logo Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life FAVE SWEET TREATS

Gelateria La Ghiotta for authentic and fanstastic gelato. Fave flavors: cafe and pistacchio. Also, check out Chox Artisan Chocolate, our friend Deborah Gershon’s fab little chocolateria. Runners-up: Helados JTO, on the river just before the bridge, and the new Italian bakery that everyone’s raving about but we have not had a chance to try yet.


Yes, we admit it – we love our vino. One of the first things we do when we visit a new city or town is to scope out the best wine selection. In Boquete, it’s the Alto Dorado market in Alto Boquete. What was that great wine you had for dinner last night? The proprietor, Melissa, will track down the label for you and then order it by the case, if you so choose. Runners-up: Supermercado Baru, Ivan, Felipe Motta Wine Store and Deli in David (with other locations throughout Panama).


Casa de Jamon, with its huge selection of meats, cheeses, wines, and many other yummies from Spain and Italy. Runners-

IMG_0637-1 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
Queuing up at one of the produce stalls in the public market

up: Boquete’s brand-new Supermercado Baru.


Boquete’s new Mercado Público (public market), which opened to much fanfare about a year ago. Runners-up: Sara’s (aka Sarita’s), Ana’s (in the back of the BCP on Tuesday market days). 

IMG_7655 Visiting Boquete, Panama? Here are some of our faves! Boquete Panama The Expat Life
The panoramic view of Boquete and the Rio Caldera from the CEFATI

Start your day at the Boquete Visitor Center (also known by its Spanish abbreviation, the CEFATI). It’s the large yellow building at the top of the hill across from the Volcancito Road turnoff, and it’s been recently graced with a colorful new “Boquete” sign (see top of this post) that’s a popular photo opp for locals and visitors alike. Sip a Kotowa coffee and enjoy the panoramic view of the Caldera River and Boquete town.

Walk around downtown Boquete and poke into the shops. Get another coffee at Central Park, sit in the Parque Domingo Médica (the main plaza) and people-watch. Send the folks back home a photo, because the Parque now has free w-fi. Boquete comes alive especially on Sunday mornings, when the Ngäbe indigenous families and other folk who live in the highlands come to town for church and shopping. Check out the Mercado Público just off the Parque.

Walk across the bridge over the Caldera (just past the Parque). If it’s a weekend, check out the plant and crafts stands on the left, just before you get to the bridge. If it’s Tuesday,  visit the market at the BCP (AKA the “gringo” market), just after you cross the bridge in the BCP building on the right. You’ll find a huge selection of gourmet food items, fresh produce, and arts and crafts. Say hi to our friends Elizabeth and Dianne, who run Cloud Forest Botanicals, or our friend Manzar (the beforementioned proprietor of Casa de Montaña), who’s usually on hand selling his gourmet Pakistani delicacies. Have something yummy and a beverage at the BCP’s El Fenix Cafe. Have lunch at El Sabrosón #3, Senor Gyros, or Big Daddy’s. Treat yourself to a gelato at La Ghiotta or JTO.




    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Please do! We’d love to finally meet you – and you have a place to stay!

  1. Robbin & Tom Siano Reply

    Awsome guide ! Congrats keep them coming it helps us during our PAINFULL waite to move there !
    God Bless.
    Robbin & Tom

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks, Robbin and Tom! I remember that waiting period – it seemed like forever. But you’ll be here and settled before you know it!

  2. It seems like forever when we visited Boquete in 2014 and clearly, we missed all the good stuff! I love that so many of the outings are around the water and in such beautiful surroundings. And like all good communities, the friends you make are the glue that keep you there and living happily. We may have to come back for a visit sometime! Anita

  3. Hopefully we will be there soon. Just waiting for our home to sell. Fingers crossed. Do you know of a rental agency that helps people find temporary (6 mo) housing. We have a dog and would like to take our time finding our perfect home. Hopefully we will be there in less than 6 months:))

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Well. . . there are a few real estate companies in town that also help with rentals. Good call to wait six months and figure out your favorite area (we have lots of microclimates, for instance). Word of mouth is the best way to find a good rental. When we first moved to Boquete we landed with our dogs at Casa Valhalla, mentioned in this blog post. There are other good online resources for rentals: Chiriqui Life ( and the Boquete News and Boquete Community groups on Facebook. The good news for you is that the rental market seems pretty soft right now – there are plenty of rentals on the market. Good luck!

  4. Sara Crocker Reply

    So glad for the recommendation of Casa Valhalla. We have a three month rental there from Jan-Mar 2018 to give us time to really look around the area and make sure Boquete is for us! Hope to meet you both when we are there!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Fantastic! You’ll love CV – it’s a great place to land and get your bearings. Please let us know when you’re here and we’ll meet up.

  5. Pingback: Boquete’s Sendero El Pianista (The Pianist Trail) – Latitude Adjustment

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It was so great to meet you, Suzann – I hope our paths cross again before you leave Boquete. And your blog is great; you really captured the whole gourmet experience of the Tuesday market. We’re headed to Ecuador in a week and a half and I definitely want to dig into your Ecuador articles for some tips.
      Buen viaje!

      • I was in Cuenca this past January. Due to a family emergency I had to cut my trip very short. So no time to see much at all. But I intend to go back in November this year. I’d love to spend at least 2-3 months in Ecuador. So by the time I get there, I’ll be reading YOUR articles for Ecuador tips! Enjoy!

  6. Sara Crocker Reply

    an odd question perhaps, but since you live in Boquete area, I thought I’d ask. I’ve read that wearing shorts in Panama is frowned upon as the country has a more formal dress code than here in the US. We’re getting ready to make the move and my hubby is wondering what to bring for shorts/pants to wear in Boquete. I realize that tourists often have their own dress code, but since we will be living there, we want to make sure we present the right impression.
    thanks for any advice on this question!

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Sara – it’s a good question. I would say that, in general, we aren’t comfortable wearing shorts when we go to town to shop or conduct business in banks or with our lawyer. You’ll always see the odd gringo going into the bank with shorts and flip flops, but it seems disrespectful to us. You will never see Panamanians conducting business in shorts. And furthermore, you aren’t even allowed to enter government buildings – say to conduct visa business – if you’re wearing shorts or sandals. But of course we wear shorts to hike, walk our dogs, or for other outdoor activities.

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