The first thing everyone will tell you about Boquete is that it is ranked as one of the top places in the world to retire. Having recently visited the highland town, I’m really not quite sure why. Here I’ll explain…
Boquete is described as a Swiss like highland town blessed with a splendid climate and beautiful scenery ideal for outdoor pursuits and volcanic soils that are perfect for growing crops. Now when I visited Boquete (August), it rained every afternoon, without fail. Normal at this time of year I was told. In fact, September to November it rains non-stop all day just about every day apparently. Coming from England, where it rains rather too often, it made me wonder why on earth would it be quite so desirable to retire somewhere where it regularly pours with rain for weeks on end?
So Boquete’s climate didn’t particularly win me over. The scenery was pretty, but hardly amazing. Lots of mountains, streams and waterfalls and it all seemed very pleasant and safe. Nice for pottering about not really doing much, but does it really warrant the sudden real estate boom that consists of people buying up mountain lots to develop large mansions or sometimes sprawling gated communities for retirees? I really didn’t see the attraction, maybe that’s because I have many more years to go before retiring!
What did we do for the 3 days? We drove around – there was some pretty highland scenery to explore around the town of Boquete. We went on some short walks in the hills. There were some lovely uncrowded hot springs nearby – natural ones, and without hordes of tourists in them. Very nice.
Boquete is Panama’s only coffee growing region and it produces what Panamanians will tell you is some of the best coffee in the world. I got taught the 20 different processes that a coffee bean has to pass through before it becomes drinkable – interesting stuff if you like coffee. I tried the world’s most expensive coffee, known as Geisha coffee. A cup of it cost just $9 here. Bargain!
Boquete certainly is a pleasant part of Panama, but I can’t help but feel it’s rather over-hyped. It’s a nice place to visit, but has too high an expectation to live up to given the hype about it being the perfect spot to retire in Panama. I’m glad I visited, but I doubt it warrants a return, at any age…..