Boquete is in the mountains of the Chiriqui Provence in the Republic of Panama. It is home to European, American, and Canadian expats and the place my husband chose to invest in our future by building long-term rental homes (Boquete Gardens) in the downtown. Boquete is a small town with a big heart. This is where community and helping others is as important as the beautiful nature surrounding it. The temperatures hover between 65-75 year- round and it is bustling with tourism and outdoor activities. Boquete coffee is to die for and friendships are the most important part of belonging in this environment. Here is how I spend my three weeks in Boquete, Panama.
How I Spent 3 Weeks in Boquete
My most recent three week trip to Panama was the longest one of my life, which is not much to some, but for me, it is a really long time. I am also not retirement age so the lack of things to do in Boquete, culturally speaking, had me worried. I should never have doubted as my 21 days turned into fun, fellowship, and enjoying the people of Panama along the way.
My first day of waking up in Boquete began with Sante Fe Ranchero omelets at Boquete’s most popular restaurant, Sugar and Spice. We then went to the local cellular company to add minutes to my international cell phone, which will save loads of money in the long run.
My husband, Eddie and I made several trips to our property, Boquete Gardens, to monitor the progress on our homes. Our parcel of land will eventually hold nine long-term rental houses. I took part in a Birdwatching Tour with Boquete Outdoor Adventures, which proved to be a big hit as I saw the almighty quetzal, eight of them!
Driving to David
Boquete does not have certain things so often we have to make trips to David, Panama’s second largest city, which is 40 minutes away. David has a Price Smart, similar to Sam’s Club in the USA, which is great for buying supplies in bulk. David also has nicer grocery stores than we do in Boquete, including Super Baru, Romero, and Super 99. A trip to David would not be complete without visiting the local McDonalds and having a juicy cheeseburger (there are 2). Now you may think I am kidding, but unlike the beef at the USA McDonalds, these burgers are made of Angus beef with no pesticides/growth hormones and are absolutely mouth-watering! Take my word for it, it is not easy for a food snob to admit getting so excited over McDonald’s. What is more, they have free Wi-Fi!
Fabulous Dinner Parties
In Boquete, we mostly invite friends over for dinner or go to dinner parties where invited. This is great as I love cooking and hosting people or trying out food prepared by others. Often times, we just go out. Los Molinos, a beautiful subdivision with a country club feel, has a killer Friday evening happy hour, often with live music. The bar features $6 entrees on their dinner menu, including Chicken Quesadillas. Panamonte Inn is a great place for a nightcap, though mine is usually dessert rather than liquor. Their Strawberries & Cream is sublime; picture me with eyes rolling in the back of my head. Panamonte is also one of my favorite spots for breakfast.
The highlight of my first week was driving to the city of David to pick up friends visiting from Florida and have Valentine’s brunch at Hotel Cuidad’s restaurant. We shopped and explored the many shops and markets in downtown David. A stop by the chic Felipe Motta wine and liquor store is a cool place to stock up on beer and wine.
Venturing Out to Try New Restaurants and Experiences
Week two of my trip started off with howling winds, in excess of 40 MPH at times, and a tree being blown down in our neighborhood which caused major problems for the neighbors. Boquete is not a place where you can just call the local repairman and things are fixed in minutes. Eddie, my husband, and I ventured out to the Hotel Ladera for an al fresco lunch, where I had tasty Pollo Flautas. We then walked through town area to pass out some small trinkets to the indigenous children.
One afternoon, I was invited to join a friend for “Girls Movie Day” at a locals house. My friend and I arrived with homemade snacks in hand and had a fun day watching “Theory of Everything”, which was still playing in theaters in the states. The ladies enjoyed a kitchen full of snacks, including splendid Basil Lemonade and Smoked Salmon Spread rolled in kale leaves, of which I had to ask for the recipes. Later that night Eddie and I met the Florida friends for dinner at George’s Fireside Grill, a restaurant I had wanted to try.
Day Trip to Man Creek- Best Trip Yet
The best thing we did on my trip took Eddie, two friends, and I on a 2-hour adventure over crazy, windy, and bumpy roads across the countryside to the Caribbean seaside town of Chiriqui Grande, where we visited the local indigenous Indians. We hired a guide to take us by boat across the sea and sandbar to Man Creek, an area accessible by boat only, where the Ngäbe-Buglé Indians live. Our favorite part was passing out candy and toys to the native children. It was eye opening to see how they live so primitively in this area. The children were so cute and receptive to our being there. The family we hired to take us and their adorable daughter Edy, our boat captain, also prepared a fresh Panamanian seafood lunch for us which was a great ending to a perfect day.
Bonus Offerings in Boquete
Near our casita in Volcancito is La Jungle, an animal refuge center that Eddie and I drove over to visit one afternoon. Dorothy, the lady in charge, was kind enough to take us on a tour. Their onsite restaurant has now closed and the center needs major work, but we enjoyed petting and interacting with the animals. They included a parrot, monkey, injured owl, bunny, chicks, and many goats. One goat was pregnant and looked like she was going to bust!
We dropped by Fresa Mary on our way home for fresh Strawberries and Cream. Dinner was with a friend at Hotel Valle del Rio, (Paladar Restaurant) just outside the gates of Valle Escondido. Paladar features a Wednesday night pasta bar. The pasta bar was stocked with several choices of pastas, sauces, and toppings prepared to order. For $15 per person, the meal came with a salad, Italian bread, glass of sangria, and banana cake for dessert. They provided impressive service and the outdoor terrace was fun and festive.
Outside of visiting Chiriqui Grande, the highlights of week two in Boquete were meeting a group of friends for dinner at Big Daddy’s and a visiting my friends Terry and Manzar’s gorgeous bed & breakfast, Casa de Montaña. If you like the B&B feel, or just plain being spoiled, this is the place for you. Casa de Montaña offers spectacular views, amazing food items, and stylishly decorated rooms and common space.
Fairs and Fun in Downtown Boquete
During my last week, Eddie and I had many details to take care of with our property. One day we stumbled upon a flower festival at the fairgrounds in the center of town. It was during a Panamanian holiday so the town was extremely crowded. He and I strolled through the gardens, admiring the beautiful flower beds and bright, vibrant colors. Later, I took a few hours to wander into town, browsing in the shops and making a few purchases of handmade clothing and jewelry. This added some fun to the stress of furniture shopping and landscape details.
After a gourmet lunch at Colibri, I walked next door to the Isla Verde Hotel and booked myself a spa treatment. The massage I had was top notch! Another day I opted for typical Panamanian food at Central Park in the middle of town. For $4, I had a satisfying and tasty meal of rice, beans, stewed chicken and pasta salad.
The Tuesday Market
Tuesdays in Boquete bring the Tuesday Market, known also as “gringo corner” by locals, at the BCP building in town. Artisans set up tables with a little bit of everything: holistic oils, vegetables, herbs, meats, jewelry, local art, and more. It seems to be the social event of the week. Amigos de Animales feature pets that can be adopted on the spot during the Tuesday Market. Again, on that day, I chose to stroll through town to pick up some postcards to mail to my readers. Aside from shipping items through Mailbox Etc., there is no postal service in Boquete. Locals bring their mail to the BCP Tuesday Market for someone heading to the states to take back and mail.
Saving Animals at Amigos De Animales
The second best thing about my entire trip to Boquete was working yet another Amigos de Animales spay and neuter clinic, this time at our own new facility. We spayed around 175 dogs and cats between 5 veterinarians and 40+ volunteers. This is usually my favorite thing to do in Panama hands down, so it is never to be missed. Working the clinic is such a rewarding pleasure plus I fall in love with every dog I help wake from anesthesia. Please note that we have hardly any stray pets running around town, most are pets brought in by owners or by collectors within an hour outside of Boquete, to help control local pet populations as well.
I Hope that Boquete, Panama is on Your Bucket List
Between the camaraderie, beautiful flowers, sweet sounding birds, and gorgeous Volcan Baru mountain views, I love Boquete. The daily rainbows and evolving relationship between gringos, indigenous, and Panamanians make Boquete is the real deal for us. We treasure every minute in this lovely setting and hope you will get a chance to visit our paradise one day.
Boquete Photo Gallery: