40km (25 miles) from David; 473km (293 miles) from Panama City
This is the destination of choice for most tourists visiting the Chiriqui Highlands, and with nearly 25% of the population hailing from the United States, Canada, or Europe, it feels somewhat like a tropical colony -- you'll find plenty of foreign-owned, international restaurants here, and you'll get along just fine even if you don't speak a word of Spanish. Boquete is one of the fastest changing destinations in Panama, with new restaurants, hotels, and real estate agencies opening left and right. Boquete is located in a steep-walled, green, and flower-filled valley on the flank of the Barú Volcano and at the shore of the Caldera River. Despite Boquete's somewhat utilitarian downtown made of cheap, concrete-poured buildings, the town on the whole oozes charm and offers a bounty of activities for travelers. Recently Boquete has climbed the charts to become one of the top-five retirement destinations in the world, and large-scale gated communities have begun their spread on the city's outskirts, much to the chagrin of longtime residents. With so many foreigners living in the area, Boquete has indeed taken on a more international feel than its counterpart Cerro Punta on the other side of the volcano. But, given the bounty of services, tours, attractions, gourmet restaurants, and a wide scale of lodging options, Boquete makes an ideal base for exploring the Chiriquí Highlands. Travelers who are keen to hike the Quetzal Trail would do well to visit Cerro Punta on the western side of the volcano first, and then walk to Boquete, sending their luggage around by vehicle.