On my first visit to this Panamanian highland town five years ago, I expected to be wowed by a colonial gem. I was a little underwhelmed when I got to the small main plaza. But I quickly realized that this town is all about the surroundings…and boy are they beyond-words spectacular.
Driving into Boquete from the provincial capital of David, you’ll pass the main square on your right…but don’t stop there.
Carry on toward the colonial church and climb up, past a smattering of shops and adorable little restaurants painted in happy pastels. Before you can blink, you’ll find yourself suddenly plunged into a world of misty green.
The velvety mountainsides are dotted with dulcet cottages…the green is interrupted where flowers erupt in a bright fireworks display. This is Boquete, demure with a hint of cheeky color.
Nestled in the shadow of Panama’s mystic Volcan Baru in the province of Chiriqui, Boquete is one of the world’s best bird-watching towns…the site of international award-winning coffee plantations…and an orchid farm, where the variety dazzles even the most experienced collectors. (The rare and exquisite blooms can sell for $70 to $1,500 at international shows.)
The region provides up to 80% of all the milk, meat and vegetables consumed in Panama. With easy access to the freshest produce, seafood, and more, it’s not hard to see why many expats claim their health has improved soon after moving here.
The perfectly pristine beaches of Boca Chica and Boca Brava Island are about hour and a half away by car. So is Panama’s oldest and most valued archeological site, Sitio Barriles.
Other nearby attractions include thermal springs, waterfalls, strawberry stands, horse ranches, rafting rapids and La Amistad National Park. Perhaps the best is the Los Quetzales Trail in the Volcan Baru National Park. One of the nation’s prized bird-watching trails, this is one of the best places in the world to spot the legendary resplendent quetzal.
All this makes Boquete a premium location, and that’s one of the reasons it is home to so many contented expats.
It’s also why my full report on retiring in Boquete is in the February issue of International Living magazine—out today.
Editor’s note: Registration is now officially open for The Live and Invest in Panama Seminar, April 13-16. You’ll learn about the best places to live in Panama City (where the seminar takes place) and the top retirement havens outside the city—in the mountain towns, highlands (like Boquete), and on the beaches.