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Travel to Boquete, Panama
The mountain village of Boquete, Panama has been ranked as a Top Five destination for overseas retirement by many experts on the subject (AARP, Modern Maturity, International Living, etc), and it is no wonder why. Mild climate year-round, low cost of living, government inventives for Retirees, excellent and affordable healthcare, friendly people, great views. and so much more. If you want to see what all the excitement is about, this guide will help you find yor way. Panama and the Boquete Region - How to Get There and What to See

There is a good chance that you have heard some of the "buzz" that has made Boquete (bow-keh-tay), Panama a top destination for nature lovers and eco-tourists as well as a highly-rated retirement location. As it appears that a period of economic uncertainty may be looming in some parts of the world (and rising land prices in Panama may be taking a brief pause), this may be the perfect time to plan your first visit to explore this beautiful little town. Now the question arises"How do we get there"??

Where is Boquete, Panama

Panama is a country located between Costa Rica and Columbia. The capital of Panama City, as well as the famous Panama Canal) is located near the eastern end, while Boquete (and the airport at David) is at the other end, near the border with Costa Rica. While this location gives Boquete a special, quiet charm, it does make travel there slightly challenging. We will make things easier for you with the information listed below.

When is the Best Time to Visit Boquete?

You will find two different seasons in the Boquete area. The rainy (green) season is from Saptember until December and the dry season is from January through August, which is the best time to visit. Even during the green season rains are often in the afternoon only, and the temperatures remain very mild.

Destination Panama City, Panama - Getting There

The airport in David, which services the Boquete area, is about to undergo a major expansion. This will allow more direct flights from around the world to David. Even when this happens we recommend you spend at least a couple of days in Panama City and see all the city has to offer. Check SideStep.com for airfare comparisons, and Copa Airlines is often a good option from the U.S.

It is unlikely that your connections into Panama City will allow a fast transfer to the flight to David, as the two airports are about 20 miles apart. The international airport is Tocumen (airport code PTY) and the regional airport is Albrook (airport code PAC). Rather than fight the connection you may find it better to relax in Panama City for a day or two before moving on to the mountain region.

There is another way to get to David/Boquete. Some major airlines (American) service San Juan, Costa Rica (code SJO). and you can catch Air Panama from there to David. This is not always a great option unless you schedules mix nicely as there are limited flights with Air Panama.

The trip from Tocumen airport to Panama City costs about $25 via taxi or shuttle. You can also rent a car (the major players are available in the terminal, including Dollar and Thrifty), but beware of the wild traffic of that is everywhere in the city. We recommend EasyTravelPanama to pick you up, show you around, and get you to your hotel. From there taxis are just a few dollars to anywhere in the city - be sure to confirm the price first. Visit BoqueteLots.com for a great Spanish guide that will help your conversation.

Some sites worthy of visiting while in Panama City are Casco Viejo (the historical center), the city center (watch out for heavy traffic, always), the Amador Causeway (walking, bike riding, ocean and canal-ship views), great restaurants, casinos, and, of course, the Panama Canal and its museum. While Panama has a relatively low crime rate there are a few areas to avoid, especially at night. Check with your hotel for advice before heading out on your own.

Let's Go to Boquete and David!

There are three ways to get to Boquete from Panama City. The first option is to take a bus to the city of David, then rent a car there for the 45-minute drive to Boquete. Buses depart from the Albrook airport several times daily for the 7-8 hour ride, with prices about $25 each way. Check with your hotel for details.

Many travellers rent a car in Panama City (or at the airport) and drive to Boquete. Once you leave the traffic of the city the drive is actually quite nice. The Pan American Highway is in pretty good shape, with four lanes much of the way. That being said, daylight driving is recommended. Travel time is about six to seven hours.

The easiest way to get to Boquete is the one-hour flight to David from the Albrook airport via Aeroperlas or Air Panama. Once in David you can rent a car and take the 45-minute drive up the mountain to Boquete. You should know that luggage weights are strictly controlled on the regional airlines (about 30 pounds per person), so think about leaving extra (fancy) clothes in a suitcase at your Panama City hotel for pickup on the return trip.

David, Panama - The Commerce Center for Boquete

The industrial center of David is where most of your major purchases will be made while living in Boquete. You will find grocery stores, restaurants and banks in Boquete, but will probably go to David for government offices, lawyers, Price Club (Costco), hardware, auto dealerships, building supplies and, yes, the Golden Arches. Spend an hour or two in David if your time allows and see what services are available.

Boquete, Panama - The World's Greatest Coffee

At this point in your travels you will certainly be ready for the quiet and beauty that is Boquete, Panama. The sign for theturnoff in David from the Pan-American Highway is easy to see, but anyone can point you the way. It takes about 45 minutes to climb to 3000' where the city sits at the foot of the famous Volcan (volcano) Baru. If you get stuck behind a truck or bus, just mellow out and enjoy the view. The road is scheduled to be widened to four lanes soon.

You will notice the majestic Volcan Baru in the distance as you head from David to Boquete. This spectacular peak is the highest point in Panama. You crest the rim and drop into the little town of Boquete for a sight you will always remember. Sure, Boquete is still a little funky (don't expect Napa), but it's charming people will make you fell welcome immediately.

Things to See in Boquete, Panama

Once you are settled into your hotel (Panamonte Inn, Boquete Garden Inn, and Los Establos Inn are all good options), start with a walking tour of downtown Boquete. Practice your Spanish while wandering in and out of the various shops. Visit the Romero Supermercado (behind the central park) to get an idea of local grocery prices and selection. Coffee, vegetables, fish, rum and chicken are very cheap, while imported American products (Kraft cheese, Breyers ice cream) are not. Also bordering the park is the local "indoor farmer's market" offering produce at great prices. Next, explore your dining options (Boquete Bistro, Panamonte Inn and Delicias Peru are highly recommended).

Now it's time to take a driving tour of the area. There are three main "loops" to explore, all of which eventually bring you back into town. The first (Volcancito) begins at the large visitor center (at the top of the hill before heading into the valley), skirts the base of the volcano, and brings you back into town via El Salto Road. For the second loop, bear right at the fork at the "top" of town, pass the Panamonte Inn, drive up to the Palo Alto coffee-growing area, and then back into central Boquete. Don't miss the Mi Jardin gardens just before you re-enter town. The third loop takes you across the bridge at the fairgrounds (near the central park again), up into the Jaramillo area, then back into civilization (passing the Los Establos Inn toward the end of the journey).

Some of your options for outdoor activities include coffee plantation tours, a.t.v. and horseback rides, jungle canopy tours, a hike up the Volcano Baru, river rafting, and so much more. Your hotel desk, and fellow guests, can give you many other ideas.
 
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