Boquete, Panama: From Retiree Haven to Panama’s Eco-Adventure Capital

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Once considered one of the world’s top retirement destinations, Boquete is now Panama’s Capital for Eco-tourism & Adventure Travel

Boquete is now an eco-tourist destination that attracts an adventurous crowd

Boquete is now an eco-tourist destination that attracts an adventurous crowd

Boquete has everything an eco-adventure enthusiastic could want: "unspoilt nature and wildlife, hundreds of birds and beautiful hiking trails in our National Parks, award winning coffee, world class whitewater adventures, thrilling zip-lining tours...

In 2001, the sleepy mountain town of Boquete was shaken out of its slumber by an article in AARP’s Modern Maturity magazine. It named Boquete as the fourth best place in the world to retire, turning the small town into an overnight sensation.

Fast-forward to 2008, when Boquete, along with the rest of the world, was hit hard by the global economic crisis and housing market crash. Of Boquete’s more than 40 planned residential developments targeted to ex-pats, less than half a dozen came to fruition. In the years that followed, Boquete worked hard to retain its newfound prosperity by turning the spotlight on its greatest strengths: its beauty and potential for adventure.

“Boquete has everything an eco-adventure enthusiast could want,” says Julio Santamaria, Co-founder, Habla Ya Spanish Courses & Ecotourism. “Unspoilt nature and wildlife, hundreds of birds and beautiful hiking trails in our National Parks, award winning coffee, world class whitewater adventures, thrilling zip-lining tours, hot springs, challenging rock climbing routes and horseback riding tours. You name it: Boquete has it. Boquete is truly Panama’s Eco-Adventure Capital.”

What seemed to be a disastrous turn of events for Boquete is turning into a positive. Tourists come prepared to spend money and local businesses benefit. Tourism also creates a vast amount of long-term jobs and opens the door for the community to flourish in other industries.

“Five or six years ago, the majority of the storefronts on our main street were real estate offices,” says Jay Thomas, Owner, Boquete Garden Inn. “They’ve been replaced by tour operators, gift shops and restaurants. In our hotel, we have seen a substantial rise in people coming to Boquete for eco-tourism and adventure, discovering more and more of what Boquete has to offer.”

Boquete seems poised for even greater growth with the announcement that Copa Airines (a Continental partner) is adding direct flights from Miami or Houston to David, a short 30-minute drive to Boquete.

“We established our business here because we believe in Boquete’s potential,” says Jay Thomas, Owner, Boquete Garden Inn. “It offers first class services while retaining its charm. Visitors love it and there is something for everyone in Boquete: be it bird watchers in search of the Resplendent Quetzal, orchid collectors exploring our gardens or adrenaline junkies wanting to zipline through the cloud forest’s canopy or raft our ferocious rivers.”

And as if tourists needed more incentive to visit Boquete, during the first round of the World Cup in South Africa, which ends June 25, several business owners are offering potential visitors the opportunity win a two week language holiday in Panama. Participants only have to predict which 4 teams will reach the semifinals and their name will be put into a draw to win two-week stay including accommodations, Spanish lessons at Habla Ya, and several eco-adventure tours plus cash in hand. Entering the contest is easy: participants just have to post a comment with the four teams of their choice in one of the sponsor’s blogs: http://www.hablayapanama.com/blog/

About Boquete: The perfect headquarters to explore Western Panama

Unspoilt nature and wildlife, hundreds of birds and beautiful hiking trails in our National Parks, award winning coffee, world class whitewater adventures, thrilling zip-lining tours, hot springs, challenging rock climbing routes and horseback riding tours. Boquete is truly Panama’s Eco-Adventure Capital.

With its modern city infrastructure and small town charm, Boquete is also the perfect headquarters to explore western Panama-the white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Chiriqui Gulf National Marine Park are only a 1.5-hour drive away. Las Lajas, Playa Hermosa and La Barqueta are some of Chiriqui’s finest beaches and they are quickly gaining recognition amongst tourists. Boca Chica, a quaint fishing village, is the perfect point to grab a boat and jump to the Paridas Archipielago, Isla Secas, Isla Ladrones or even the internationally renowned Isla Coiba, frequently compared to the Galapagos due to its exuberant wildlife and pristine ecosystems. The scuba diving and sport fishing found in the Chiriqui Gulf are certainly world class and they still remain way off the tourist map.

As most of the tourist infrastructure of the province of Chiriqui is located in Boquete, visitors prefer to return in the evening or after a couple of days to the town’s fresh mountain air, breathtaking views, welcoming accommodations and great restaurants. Thanks to its 1,200-meter elevation (3,600 feet), the area’s microclimates deduct 10 crucial degrees (average temperature is 60° to 80° F or 16° – 28° C) from the lowland’s heat allowing visitors to come back to a more pleasant atmosphere.

About Habla Ya, Spanish Courses & Ecotourism

Habla Ya Spanish Courses & Eco-tourism, founded in 2005, is Panama’s premier Spanish school and one of the top specialist Spanish training institutions in Central America and is internationally renown as one of the leading providers of Spanish courses in Latin America. http://www.hablayapanama.com/

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