Get your bucket list ready. In this guide, we’ll show you the best things to do in Boquete and how to experience them. Need help planning your trip? Check out our tips for visiting Boquete — you’ll find the best restaurants, where to stay, how to get around and more!
What to expect in Boquete
Nestled in Panama’s most mountainous region, Boquete is a place that hikers, nature-lovers and coffee fanatics dream of.
How you experience Boquete is completely up to you. Some people like to put their body to the test and embark on as many of Boquete’s trails as possible. The brave amongst us take on the summit of Baru Volcano — an unforgettable experience.
Others decide that Boquete is the ideal place to sit back, relax and just listen to the sound of nature all around them. Either option guarantees a great time in Boquete.
Top tours in and around Boquete
- Join a coffee tour and learn how coffee is made for $38
- Explore Boquete on an e-bike for $55
- Get your paddle ready for this all-day whitewater rafting adventure for $67
#1 Hike to the summit of Baru Volcano
How many people can say they’ve stood at the highest point in Panama?
Anyone who’s climbed the Baru Volcano that is. Standing at 3,474 metres high, it’s also the 12th highest peak in Central America.
It’s a reasonably challenging hike, but the views at the top are completely worth it. On a clear day, you can see both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. If it’s not clear, no fear. Standing above a sea of clouds is beyond magical!
The hike is around 26 km long. It takes between 4-5 hours up and around 4 hours down.
Sunrise vs. daytime
This is your first big decision for hiking Baru Volcano, sunrise vs. daytime. We’d recommend hiking it for sunrise.
This involves leaving town at 11:30pm and reaching the summit just before sunrise. Watching the sun start a new day from the summit is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. Also, the photos are awesome!
You’ll hike up in the dark, which you could argue is a good thing. You can’t see how much further you have to go. You can then take in the views that you missed on the way down.
If the thought of hiking in the dark sounds too creepy, or dangerous, to you, then begin hiking at around 5am. This gives you enough time to make it up and back before it gets dark.
Getting to Baru Volcano
To get there, you can take a taxi or a shuttle if your accommodation offers one. A taxi will cost you around $20 for the 15-minute drive or around $5 per person for a shuttle.
At the entrance you might be expected to pay $5. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. It’s Panama!
To return back to Boquete, you can take the bus for $5.
Hiking Baru Volcano
Making it to the top of Baru Volcano is likely to be one of the best things that you do in Panama. It’s a challenging, yet incredible experience.
Also it’s good to know that Baru Volcano is no longer active, so there’s no need to worry about making a quick dash back down.
Along the way you’ll be greeted by green and yellow signs telling you how far you’ve hiked so far. These are great motivators when your calf muscles are screaming!
Top tip: Make sure to bring warm clothes. The closer you get to the summit, the colder and windier it gets. Also bring some snacks, and of course, water. If you’re not sure what to pack for adventures like this, our ultimate packing list for Latin America will help.
While you can do the hike independently, some people might prefer to hire a guide, especially if hiking at night. It’s a good way to ensure you don’t get lost, and they can spot wildlife for you along the way.
#2 Battle class III rapids whitewater rafting
Panama, and Boquete in particular, are havens for adventure and adrenaline. One way that’s guaranteed to get the heart pumping is by going white water rafting.
The Chiriquí Viejo River, near Boquete, has some awesome class III rapids that make for an exciting ride.
Don’t worry, class III rapids sit at an intermediate level. No matter your experience level, you should be fine. Just hold on tight!
With this all-day whitewater rafting experience you’ll be accompanied by an experienced guide who can fish you out the water when you fall in. You’ll also receive lunch, drinks and transportation.
Spend the day drifting along the river, admiring the spectacular views. When you’re not fighting against the rapids that is!
Get your paddle ready and join this all-day whitewater rafting adventure for $67.
#3 Try cliff jumping at Los Cangilones de Gualaca
Los Cangilones de Gualaca Canyon is a stunning natural wonder that’s thousands of years old.
Its turquoise waters coax you in, daring you to make the jump from the canyon cliffs into the water. 4 metres is about as high as it gets, but trust us, it feels higher when you’re standing there looking down.
Los Cangilones de Gualaca is a popular place for both locals and travellers to hang out. You can spend your day jumping off rocks, sunbathing or swimming in the natural pool which the canyon opens up to.
Top tip: Try not to visit on a weekend as it’s packed with visitors.
#4 Get your caffeine boost on a coffee tour
Coffee is something most of us can’t live without, but a lot of us don’t actually know how that coffee made it into our cups.
Do you know where coffee beans come from? Can you tell your light roast from a dark roast? Curious why various types of beans taste different? You’ll get all these questions answered on a coffee tour.
The Chiriqui province, where Boquete is located, has been blessed with rich volcanic soil — the key ingredient to growing amazing coffee. On this coffee tour, you’ll get to see how the coffee is grown, harvested and roasted.
You’ll learn how to prepare the coffee and, of course, get a taste too!
Spend 2-3 hours learning how coffee is made and tasting the final product on this coffee tour for $38.
#5 Try Geisha coffee — the most expensive coffee in the world
Continuing with the coffee theme, have you heard of Geisha coffee?
Originating from Ethiopia, Geisha coffee is the most expensive coffee in the world, and Panamanian Geisha is considered the best.
With Chiriqui being one of the best coffee regions in Panama, you’ll be getting the best of the best if you try Geisha coffee here. What makes it so precious? The trees require special care which makes this coffee extremely difficult to grow and very rare.
You’ll find a cup of Geisha coffee at a few cafes in town, including Kotowa cafe. Expect to pay between $6-$10. Is it worth it? Personally, I wasn’t blown away by the coffee but seeing the barista brew it in front of me and learning its story was still very cool.
#6 Fly through the sky on a zipline
Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a bird? Ziplining over Boquete’s dense forests gives you a good idea.
Boquete Outdoor Adventures is one of the most popular companies to take to the skies with in Boquete. They offer an eight-zipline adventure that covers over 2.5 km on the slopes of Baru Volcano. Or twelve ziplines over 3 km in the tree canopy. Prices start at $65 per person.
You’ll have a whole new admiration for Boquete after seeing it from this perspective.
#7 Cross bridges hanging 75 metres in the air
If hanging from a harness and zooming through the trees doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, there’s another way to explore the tree canopy.
Why not simply walk through the trees, 75 metres off the ground instead? Sounds a lot more relaxing.
At Boquete Tree Trek Adventure Park, you’ll find six hanging bridges camouflaged amongst the trees. These hanging bridges add some excitement to the 4.5 km trail and test your head for heights. Along the way, you’ll get incredible views of waterfalls, Baru Volcano and the cloud forest around you.
Entrance costs $30 per person.
#8 Skid and slide around Boquete on an ATV
It’s time to get muddy! ATV tours tick two things off the list — getting to explore the area and having a lot of fun while doing it.
Boquete’s rugged landscape, rolling hills and dense forests make it the ideal place to become a petrol head. This way you can access hidden spots that cars can’t get to.
ATV Adventures Boquete offers a number of different tours including a trip to hot springs, an eco tour and a 7-hour adventure on Baru Volcano.
Drop them a message on Instagram and see what they can do on the price for you.
#9 Immerse yourselves in the clouds on El Pianista trail
El Pianista trail is all about the journey, not the destination. For the majority of this hike, you’ll be engulfed by fluffy white clouds and weaving your way through mini canyons.
El Pianista trail well and truly takes you into Panama’s cloud forest. The air around you will be moist and the dense greenery will be sprinkled with droplets. It’s a magical experience.
The hike is around 8 km, out and back, taking around 3-4 hours. Over this time, you’ll gain around 600 m of elevation, making it an easy to intermediate hike.
How to get to El Pianista trail
The trail begins at the Il Pianista restaurant. The colectivo from the main street in town will drop you off right outside. Each way costs less than $1.
#10 Sendero Los Quetzales (Quetzal trail)
Please note: The Sendero Los Quetzales trail is currently closed. In 2021, there were a number of storms that destroyed the trail. Work is being done to get the trail up and running again, so do check online or with your accommodation, when you visit.
If hiking to the top of Baru Volcano sounds like a bit too much for you, there are plenty of other hikes to do within Volcano Baru National Park.
One of the most popular trails is the Quetzal. It’s an 8 km trail that runs between Cerro Punta and Boquete. The hike takes around 5-6 hours and offers spectacular views.
You’ll be crossing forests, meadows and the River Caldera. Make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife too. Baru National Park is home to 250 species of birds, including the quetzal which gives the trail its name. Plus, big cats such as leopards and pumas.
How to hike the Quetzal trail
There are three ways to hike the Quetzal trail:
- From Boquete to Cerro Punta (uphill)
- From Cerro Punta to Boquete (downhill)
- From Boquete to Mirador La Roca (halfway and back)
Boquete to Cerro Punta
This way is the harder option, as you’ll gain around 800 m of elevation. Once you arrive in Cerro Punta, you’ll need to take a bus to David, and then another one back to Boquete. In total this journey takes around 2 hours.
Cerro Punta to Boquete
If you’re not a fan of hiking uphill, then consider getting the buses to Cerro Punta first. Hiking from Cerro Punta to Boquete also means you have a shorter journey back to your accommodation once you’ve finished the hike.
Boquete to Mira La Roca
Another option is to only hike half of the trail and then turn back. The viewpoint Mirador La Roca conveniently sits about halfway between the towns. If you don’t fancy the hassle of transportation on the other side, you can turn around and head back to Boquete once you reach this point.
#11 Find the Lost Waterfalls
The Lost Waterfalls aren’t exactly lost as there’s a well-marked trail that leads to them, but nevertheless, it’s a great hike.
Considering that you’re not far from Boquete, the Lost Waterfalls hike makes you feel like you’ve been swallowed by the forest. The hanging vines and humongous leaves make you feel incredibly small.
It’s also not the most popular trail, so if you’re lucky, you might have the waterfalls to yourself.
As a reward for your (probably muddy) hike, the out-and-back trail leads to three magnificent waterfalls.
Bring a swimsuit and a towel! There are a few nice spots to take a dip along the way but my personal favourite was a natural ‘infinity pool’ which formed at the top of one of the waterfalls, overlooking the lush forest. The water was ice cold but it was absolutely worth it..
How to hike to the Lost Waterfalls
To get from Boquete to the start of the trailhead, you can either get a colectivo from the centre of town for $3 or a taxi for around $10.
You’ll need to get dropped by the small suspension bridge that crosses the river. From here, follow the signs up the hill to a cabin where you’ll be expected to pay a $10 entrance fee.
Then it’s time to really begin the hike, which takes around 1-hour each way.
#12 Zoom around Boquete on an E-bike
There’s a lot of hiking in Boquete, so we don’t blame you if you want to give your feet a rest and hop on an e-bike. It’s a great way to see the town and the lush surrounding area without having to try too hard!
This 2-hour guided e-bike adventure takes you to some of the best viewpoints in Boquete. Viewpoints normally mean having to trek uphill and work up a sweat — an e-bike does all the work for you!
To make sure you don’t get too thirsty along the way, there are also some stops to try some fresh coffee and locally brewed beer.
See more of Boquete on a 2-hour e-bike tour for $55.
#13 Enjoy the relatively easy Pipeline trail
The Pipeline trail is one of the easiest hikes in Boquete, yet still very rewarding. You get to see a cascading waterfall at the end of the trail, and it’s a great area for spotting wildlife like the elusive quetzal.
The hike is a 4.5 km out-and-back trail that takes between 2-3 hours to complete, depending on your pace.
Why is it called the Pipeline trail? It’s actually not as exciting as you’d think. It’s literally because there is a pipe that runs the length of the trail, transporting water from the waterfall back to Boquete.
How to get to the Pipeline trail
As with a lot of the hikes, you’ll need to find the right colectivo. Ask around at the main square or look out for signs in windscreens. The colectivo journey costs $3 each way.
When the colectivo reaches a blue wooden sign with waterfalls on it, stop there. The trail begins at the Cascada Escondida sign, and around this point you’ll be asked for a $3 entrance fee to the trail.
Top tip: Keep an eye out for the 1,000-year-old tree along the way. It’s signposted and huge, so it’s hard to miss.
If you’d like to maximise your chances of spotting wildlife, you can join a fun half-day tour and complete the Pipeline trail with a knowledgeable guide for $34.
#14 Visit a bee and butterfly farm
Boquete Bees Butterflies is a coffee, butterfly and bee farm. They’ve got a lot going on!
It’s a wonderful place to experience nature, learn about it and try some of its produce. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating butterflies.
But you can take part in a honey tasting. For $12, they provide ten different honeys to try, such as medicinal honeys, indigenous stingless bee honey and honey wine vinegar.
Honey is a superfood, so hopefully after the tasting you’ll have plenty of energy to explore the butterfly garden and visit their butterfly breeding lab.
This place is a great way to spend an afternoon in Boquete.
#15 Test your upper body strength rock climbing
Baru Volcano’s last eruption 500 years ago created a playground for rock climbers. Massive flows of lava covered a large proportion of the region, helping to form solid basalt rock walls that are now popular rock climbing spots.
One particularly popular section of wall is called El Gunko. Here, you’ll find 15 routes for all levels of climbers. Whether you’re an avid climber or a complete beginner, rock climbing is a must-do activity in Boquete.
#16 Relax in Caldera hot springs
If you’re looking for luxury hot springs, Caldera hot springs might not be for you. Unlike a lot of hot springs nowadays, these natural hot springs have been left natural.
There are two pools for you to soothe your aching muscles in and a cold river nearby. Try hopping between the warm water of the pool and the cold water of the river.
How to visit Caldera hot springs
You can take a $2 bus from Boquete park to the entrance of the hot springs. Just tell the bus driver where you’d like them to stop.
At the entrance to the hot springs you’ll need to pay $3 and from here hike for 20 minutes to reach the pools.
Top tip: Go early in the morning to have the hot springs all to yourself.
Rounding it up
Now you’ve picked the best things to do in Boquete, it’s time to start ticking off that bucket list. Not sure how to plan your trip? Our Boquete guide is here to help! You’ll find out how long to stay in Boquete, where to eat, how to get around and more. Happy planning!
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Kate is a writer, (ex)Management Consultant and avid traveller. She recently returned from a 2-year career break exploring the world and decided corporate life wasn’t for her. She’ll soon be testing life as a digital nomad. She’s visited over 40 countries and fell in love with Latin America in particular. Her travelling has inspired a passion for yoga, salsa, hiking and Spanish.