I'm not sure what I imagined Panama to be like, to be honest, I probably hadn't given it much thought, but I was surprised how green it is! Arriving in the Chiriquí Highlands in the pouring rain ( I guess that explains the greenness!) I stared out the bus window across rolling, green hills and lush jungle. The town of Boquete sits at just over 1000.m and so the air here is fresh and the temperature is much cooler. It is a welcome relief after the humidity of Bocas del Torro.
Boquete is famed for hiking and coffee farms, so we spent 3 nights here sampling the best of what Boquete has to offer. If you are looking for a longer hike, check out Volcan Baru, this will however mean setting off at midnight and hiking through the night! Read on for the best short hikes in Boquete, Panama and some helpful info about Boquete town.
The Best short hikes in Boquete, Panama
Lost Waterfalls Hike
We can safely say the waterfalls are no longer lost, they can in fact be found along a well-signposted jungle trail! However, it doesn't make it any less wonderful! The trail is easy in terms of distance and time taken; it's an out-and-back trail that takes approximately 2 hours to complete (depending on how long you choose to spend at the falls). However, the path itself is uneven, a little slippy & steep in parts. One steep section of the trail has ropes to help you which are really useful coming down. I would say it is impossible to get lost on this trail. The trail costs $10pp. You can read more about the Lost Waterfalls Hike and our experience here.
Pipeline Trail (also known as Hidden Waterfall Hike)
The Pipeline Trail is another out-and-back hike which works its way gradually uphill, at first along a gravel path through farmland before entering the jungle. The path continues to be clear but is more uneven underfoot, littered with tree roots. The trail passes a tree that is over 1000 years old, having survived two major eruptions from Volcán Barú, gives you the opportunity to spot the stunning Resplendent Quetzal bird (sadly we didn't) and takes you to a beautiful waterfall (perhaps not as impressive as those on the lost waterfalls hike, but lovely all the same). I would say this walk is easier than the lost waterfalls hike, a more gradual ascent and with no uphill scrambling necessary. There are a few small river crossings that consist of wide pipes you balance your way across that children or less able adults may struggle with, but overall I would rate the path as easy. Again, it is near impossible to get lost. This entrance costs $5pp. You can read more about Pipeline Trail and our experience here.
La Piedra de Lino Hike
La Piedra de Lino hike is certainly not for someone who likes a straightforward, flat, man-made path and just fancies a couple of hours' stroll. It’s not a long walk at 2.8km, taking between 45 minutes to an hour each way, but it is a constant uphill, muddy scramble. We found it a lot of fun! I would not attempt this trail during the rain or if it has rained heavily the day before. The whole trail was hard, compact, slippy mud & we went on our arses at least twice each! It’s a real calf burner but your efforts are rewarded however by the wonderful 360-degree view from the top! There is no entrance fee for this trail, you can read more about La Piedra de Lino Hike here.
Helpful info for Boquete, Panama
Getting around Boquete
Boquete town centre is very small so, for the most part, it's easy to get around on foot. The hiking trailheads however do not set off from the centre of Boquete. To get to all of the trailheads, head to the collectivo stand on Calle 1a Sur & Avenue Belisario Porras.
Coffee in Boquete
Perhaps not as big a player, in terms of quantity, in the coffee industry as other countries in Central America or South American countries; in fact, one coffee farm in Brazil could yield more beans than the whole of the coffee farms in Panama; it has still become a key player in the coffee scene, renowned for its production of the Geisha variety.
Geisha wasn't introduced to Panama until the 1960s & at first farmers found the plant difficult to work with. In 1997 the Speciality Coffee Association of Panama (SCAP) was formed and a new focus was put on the quality rather than quantity of the yield. This provided education and improvements to the process for the producers and allowed their beans to be showcased on the international market. It wasn't long before Geisha started making history.
You can arrange coffee farm tours from Boquete for in the region of $30pp.
Alternatively, if you are not a coffee connoisseur and are happy not to know the ins and outs of Geisha coffee. A cheaper coffee experience is simply working your way around the coffee shops in town, sampling the finished product!
Coffee shops in Boquete
A small but inviting coffee shop that advertises free Wi-Fi and working space, so is a great place for remote working while you enjoy their offerings. They have a good coffee and cake menu with the staff making a good brew.
The Perfect Pair
Another great option making a great brew and they sell artisanal chocolate to pair with it too. You can also opt to join one of their chocolate-making classes, where they share their secrets along with many tastings too. Prices start at $19
How to get to Boquete from Bocas del Toro
A natural step if you are working from north to south in Panama is to go from Bocas del Toro to Boquete. The journey is serviced by shuttle services for around $30, however, it is a very easy journey to take on yourself using public transport.
First things first is to take the boat from Bocas del Toro to Almirante, which costs $6 (or $10 if you purchase an open return on your way to the islands) and takes 30 minutes.
From Almirante, you need to make your way to the Terminal de Buses, Panama, where you can pick up a bus to David, which leaves roughly every 20/30 minutes, takes 3 hours & costs $9.70pp.
In David, you arrive at the Terminal de Autobuses, David, and the bus to Boquete leaves from there. The buses from David to Boquete leave roughly every 20 minutes, take 1 hour and cost $1.75pp.
For a more detailed explanation see our post 'how to get from Bocas del Toro to Boquete'.
This works just as well in reverse as both the buses and boats run frequently.
How to get to Boquete from Panama City
From Panama City Albrook Station the buses depart for David regularly (either hourly or every 90 minutes depending on the time of day). There is no need to pre-book, just make your way to Albrook Station. There are 2 buses which run the route, Express, taking 6 hours (overnight departing between 10 pm and 3 am) and Regular, which takes between 7-9 hours. I suggest the regular bus as the night buses really aren't long enough to save a night's accommodation. The regular buses cost $15.25pp.
The bus from Panama City to David arrives at the Terminal de Autobuses, David, and that is where the next bus to Boquete departs. As above the buses from David to Boquete leave roughly every 20 minutes, take 1 hour and cost $1.75pp.
This works just as well in reverse as both buses run frequently.