Topher and Madi's Half-Assed Guide to Boquete

We spent just 3 days there, but we'll still tell you what to do.

The Most Beautiful Town That Means Oral Sex

In Portuguese, Boquete means blowjob. While in Spanish it only means ‘valley’, Brazilian Portuguese is Madi’s second language and when she first saw the name she did a double-take. “The town is named WHAT?!” There’s a huge sign in town saying, “El mejor de Boquete, disfruta-lo” (which would translate to ‘The best of blowjob, enjoy it!’) which makes Madi laugh.

A Quick History of Old-Folks and Boquete

bench lost waterfalls trail According to Josue the cab driver, in the year 2000 an American businessman came to town and bought 35 acres from a local woman for a good chunk of money. The Panamanian woman was beside herself with glee and went around gloating that she took so much money from that stupid American man and he got ripped off so hard!

And then that ‘stupid American man’ returned and started building nice houses on the land and marketing it as a retirement community for wealthy Americans. In the first year he got his money back and then some, and he continued buying land and selling it to the geriatric. Fast-forward 16 years later, and hordes of old people abound call Boquete home.

Will someone with a pulse enjoy a top-rated retirement destination?

Before visiting, when we thought of Boquete we envisioned hordes of old white people sipping wine and farting all over the countryside, and if we want that we can just go to Florida thank you very much. But we were pleasantly surprised.

  • The expats keep to themselves in their own communities, leaving much of the town full of locals
  • The weather is perfect, with temps always in the 70s
  • So much natural beauty you feel like you’re the main character in a romantic comedy
  • Good energy everywhere, no one trying to con you because you’re a foreigner
  • Kind Locals and friendly children
  • Great Food
  • Really pretty birds (turns out Madi really likes birds. Weird.)

That being said, we were there for a long weekend and that is probably plenty of time to experience Boquete. If you’re thinking of staying here for a month and working remotely, you might get pretty bored. But if you’re okay with staying in a small town with friendly people, hiking in the lush mountains every day, eating fresh food for every meal, and doing it all on the cheap, Boquete may be a great fit for you.

So let’s get started!

Where to Eat

Boquete actually has good food. We both lost about 10 lbs each during our six-week stay in Bocas del Toro because most of the food was inedible. We assumed that the food in this country sucks, but Boquete proved us wrong! Boquete is in the bread basket of Panama, and 70% of all the produce that goes to Panama City comes from here. As you can imagine, the fruits and vegetables here are extremely fresh and flavorful.

Sugar and Spice

What to Order: Anything!

A cute bakery and breakfast/lunch spot, Sugar and Spice uses quality ingredients while keeping the prices surprisingly low. Since the produce in Boquete is so delicious, Madi highly recommends anything with fruit or veggies, as they are a much higher quality than you’ll find in most American supermarkets, and they’re so good they can even turn eating a salad into an enjoyable experience. Sugar and Spice bakes their own bread as well, which makes the sandwiches (and anything baked here) delightful.

The Rock Restaurant

Image by Ivan N. on TripAdvisor

What to Order: the suckling pig, the ribs

This place was incredibly romantic. Imagine walking down the street on a hillside covered in green grass, lush trees, flowers, and rustic coffee plantations to arrive at a candelit dinner on a lawn by a roaring river. We left here with stars in our eyes, bellies full of masterfully crafted food, and memories of impeccable service. Highly recommended for a date night.

Il Retro Gusto

This was the best Italian food we’ve both had outside of Italy. We wish we’d taken photos of our food, but we were way too busy enjoying the wonderful culinary experience. The restaurant is owned by Cicilians who have won awards for their Italian food, and here they believe in simple meals done impeccably well. We ordered the special of the day, which was a burrata with tomatoes on toast and a main of ricotta ravioli with homemade noodles and homemade sauce. So simple, but so incredibly well executed that it’s be a meal we’ll remember for years. It was also nice to see Panamanians dressed-up, laughing, and socializing, and the atmosphere was warm and cozy.

What to Do

Go for a Hike

Boquete waterfall

Pictured is the Lost Waterfalls trail, but everywhere in this area is beautiful and you probably can’t go wrong with any trail (though we hear some of them are poorly marked, so beware).

Visit a Coffee Plantation

Every local we talked to highly recommended this tour. We didn’t go because it’s mostly an indoor tour (and who has time for hours of talking), but it came highly recommended so maybe you should do it and let us know if all that talking is worth it. What? We told you this is a half-assed guide!

Try to Spot a Quetzal

resplendent quetzal

These birds are so spectacular they were worshipped by the Ancient Aztecs and the Mayans, and some even say that quetzalcoatl is based off of the resplendent quetzal. During breeding season (Feb-May), the males get those beautiful long tail feathers, and this is the best time to find them. Go with a guide, because they’ll know where to look.

Where to Stay

Hotel Palo Alto

hotel palo alto birds

This was such a pleasant experience that I’m not even going to give you any other recommendations; simply go here and thank me later. Below are our favorite parts of our stay:

  • friendly, genuine staff
  • delicious breakfast
  • flowers everywhere
  • spectacular views of the surrounding forests and mountains
  • quiet and serene
  • clean rooms with comfy beds
  • on the weekend they leave fruit out for the myriad of brightly colored birds that come to eat it
  • As of 2016 they’re building an infinity pool and a lawn right by the river for relaxing, so this place is only going to get better!

Things to Pass Up

Going to the Hot Springs

We didn’t go, but we hear it’s nasty and has worms, and to top it off, it’s pretty hard to get to. Enough said.

Baru Volcano (depends on time of year)

The main draw of this volcano is you can either hike or take a rough, couple hour jeep ride to the top in order to see both oceans at once. Which sounds pretty cool, but we were there during the rainiest month of year so there was pretty much no chance of us being able to see both coasts as there would be way too many clouds to see anything. If you’re there in the dry season (March-Sept), your odds may be higher.

That’s all we got, Folks!

Until the next half-assed guide from a couple who has no clue what is really going on in the small towns they visit, this is Madi and Topher signing off.