View on Volcan Barù from the Chiriqui Highlands
  The great thing about this province, located on the Pacific shore bordering Costa Rica, is that is has just about everything: highlands, mountains, but aswell cities with night life and even white sand beaches! Birdwatschers will find more than 1000 different species and the variety of flowers is amazing. The highlands might remind you a bit of Switzerland, concidering the architecture of a lot of homes and haciendas. It is not that surprising anymore when you know that there was actually a Swiss Farm Colony long before the first road was paved.

Are you interested to discover more about this part of Panama? Then keep reading in more detail about the different places in this province!

David - The capital

The Gran Hotel Nacional
 The city lays close to the coast and is a market town and center for the agriculture industry, the main production of the province. Chiriqui provides the rest of the country with vegetables, fruits and other agricultural products. In recent years the city has become more visitors friendly, as in opening hostels and hotels. An example for a budget stay is the backpackers hostel "the purple house", close to the center of the town. It is easy to find, because it is literally painted completely in purple. A more expensive, but really comfortable option, is the Gran Hotel Nacional, which includes an excellent restaurant, a pool and a casino.

Probably the best time to visit is during the International Fair of David, which takes place in the end of March every year. It offers everything - from horse shows over bars, cow sells till parties every night with national and international artists.


Most of the travelers takes it out of town and up the hills, heading for the Volcan Barù, with its 3474 meters the highest point of Panama. There is more than one option to climb the Volcan, one is from the town of Boquete. Drive up a straight road from David and you will find the town situated in the valley against the Volcano's flank. Boquete was founded early last century by Europeans and US Americans to grow coffee and flowers. Some of them came due to the Californian Gold Rush, but stayed to discover not gold, but other recources the valley offered.

If you like coffee, Boquete is the place to go! It is surrounded by coffee plantations and the beans are even exported to Europe and North America. You can make tours that guide you through the coffee farms and they usually end in one of the coffee shops, where you can enjoy the freshly brewed coffee!

You joined a tour and you still want to know and see more about coffee? Then you should be there for Boquetes biggest event of the year: The Flower and Coffee Fair! Walk around the fairground on the banks of the Caldera river to try different coffee specialities and watch the variety of flowers. There are also several flower gardens to visit, for example Paradise Gardens, which is also a wild animal rescue rehabilitation center!

During the last years, Boquete became more and more famous among foreigners as a place to spent the time of retirement. But they did not leave their culture behind, and that is why you find many restaurants from countries all over the world. Eat breakfast in a german bakery and finish your day with a traditional peruvian plate!

For all of you that want a bit more than just good food and hot drinks, Boquete offers several outdoors sports activities such as horseback riding and river rafting. You can also explore the surroundings by food, using one of the many hiking trails.

Sunrise from the top of the Volcan Barù

The Quetzal Bird
 Most of these hiking trails around Boquete are part of the 14 325 hectares big Volcan Baru National Park, a highly valuable geological landscape. It protects a biological variety of unique species that live in the tropical rainforests or within the remains of the last blast of the volcan millions of years ago. The most famous trail is called Los Quetzales that takes you from Cerro Punta down to Boquete. It is named after the bird "Quetzal" that you will see while you are hiking through the forest, and the Toucan bird is also very common. You can take a hike all the way up to the top of the Volcan, but it is better to go in a group. It is a long hike, but it is worth it because of the awesome view. On a clear day you see both coasts of Panama after enjoying an amazing sunrise!


This small mountain village lies on the western slope of the Volcan Barù, about 1 hour away from the capital David. It is famous for its fresh climate (in contrast to David you don't need air condition up here) and the natural beauty of the territory, that reminds a bit of the Alps.

Tourism has reached town in recent years, there are a couple of nice hotels and hostels available, but the main commercial activities are still agriculture and cattle farming. The area is perfect to grow fruits such as oranges and strawberries, to grow coffee and flowers. Just like in Boquete it is possible to visit the coffee plantations and see how the coffee beans are being processed.

The village has a couple of supermarkets, fresh vegetable and meat markets, banks, internet cafes and more than 30 places to go out to eat.

The town is nice to take hikes for example up to the Volcan Baru, in the already mentioned Volcan Baru National Park. But there is also another National Park close to Volcan, the "Parque de Amistad" (Friendship Park). It is concidered the first Bi-National Biosphere Reserve, due to the fact that it is located between Panama and Costa Rica. 95% of the park on the Panamenian side lies in the province of Bocas del Toro, the rest in Chiriqui. To enter the park take a bus from Volcan to Cerro Punta, which lies another 1000 feet higher, where you will find the administration center "Las Nubes". From here you can enjoy several short mountain hikes with nice climate while doing bird watching such as the Quetzal (picture above).  

Another nice afternoon activity in Volcan is to visit the archeological site Sitio Barriles. It got its name from the barrel-shaped boulders found there, which could have been an ancient form of wheel for moving large logs. Guided tours are offered daily. Statues from Barriles indicate that ancient Panamenians may have been of Asian and African origin and lived there around 2000 BC till 250 AD. There are even hints that these culture could have been linked to the one of Easter Island. It is really interesting to find out about some myths of this forgotten culture. Many of the rock artifacts you find there are from Volcan Baru, which is more than 16 kilometers away from the site. How did they get these heavy stones that far? The answer could be the barrel-shaped stones! Visit to find out more .. and enjoy the beautiful garden around the site!


As already mentioned in the introduction of this page, Chriqui offers a bit of everything. If it is getting too cold up in Volcan for you, drive back down to David and from there to one of the beaches on the pacific coast. One of them is Playa La Barqueta, a beautiful long, white-sanded beach just about thirty minutes away from David by car. Located 18 miles along the coast is the Las Olas Beach Resort, a five-star resort where you can experience a luxury stay. Another nice beach to go is Las Lajas Beach, by car about one hours east of David. You will find a nice beach resort like in La Barqueta aswell.

Lost and Found Hostel

Hidden in the mountains on the road from David to Changuinola in Bocas del Toro lies this small hostel, owned by a US American. If you don't know about it, you might just pass it, but if you do, you notice the small yellow sign next to the road. You get of the bus after an about one hour ride from David and your first impression might be something like "I am in the middle of nowhere!" But since the name of the hostel is Lost and FOUND-that is exactly what you will do after a short, but exhausting walk up the hill.

The hostel is the ideal place for people that like to explore nature and live right within it. Watching monkeys and kolibris just a couple of meters away from you during breakfast is a daily experience up there. You can make hiking tours through the rainforest and visit a nearby swiss farm, which is working in an organic way. The hostel tries to bring organic farming closer to the people in the village close to the hostel. Your guide is a friendly guy who also lives in the village. That is why he can show you a lot of interesting plants and animals that you would have passed hiking alone.

The hostel is managed by a couple of volunteers that change every few months. They try to make your stay as enjoyable as they can by making you feel at home and organizing game nights and happy hours in the hostel's own small bar.

View on the mointains from the hostel
Since it is quite high up in the mountains you should better bring a coat, it gets pretty fresh in the evening. But don't worry, the hostel offers warm showers! So, if you would like to know how it feels like to cut yourself off from every civilization and getting to know the biological diversity of the rainforest, you should definetly stop here on your way to Bocas!