We live in David which is in Chiriqui province. I think Chiriqui is the most beautiful province but I’m sure I have bias because I’m so happy living here.
Chiriqui is in the southwestern part of Panama and borders Costa Rica to the west. We have Volcan Baru, an active (but thankfully sleeping) volcano and the highest point in the country, and we also have some beautiful and barely used beaches. Here is my friend Eduardo at Las Lajas where he appears to have the entire beach almost to himself, which is not unusual.
Panama is a relatively small country but even just in Chiriqui there are a lot of choices from mountain living at whatever elevation works for you (cool vs warm), to sand beaches or tropical islands. There is the bustling city of David, numerous smaller towns, or very rural living where you can barely see a neighbor.
David is the second biggest city and it is exploding with development. A few other places in Chiriqui in no particular order – Puerto Armuelles on the coast near the Costa Rica border, La Concepcion, a traditional feeling town serving many of the needs of the area farmers, Volcan on the west side of Baru, on the way to Cerro Punta and the highlands where most the the produce is grown for the whole country. On the east side of Baru is Boquete, which prompted this post.
Boquete is one of the best known places in the country. It has been heavily promoted by International Living and other publications, and is known for tourist activities and the large expat population. Lately though, the number of tourists and expats has been dropping. Unfortunately there have been a lot of problems with water, electricity, and the streets have been torn up for about two years. They are putting in water and sewer systems but work starts and stops, torn up streets aren’t repaired, and getting around town is a daily headache for the residents. It’s really too bad because the country wants to encourage tourists but this is only driving them away, and I have heard about many businesses that have folded and expats who have moved away. I have heard about these problems from a number of sources and experienced them myself, but the silver lining at the moment – it’s a buyers and renters market. I’m sure things will be put right eventually, so if you want to get a place and wait it out you can probably find a really good deal. And, there still is the amazing beauty of the area and a multitude of expat activities you can join like theater, photography group, hiking group, motorcycle riders, yoga, painting classes, bridge, to name just a few, and there are many restaurants and quite a few venues with live music.
So, don’t give up on Boquete, and definitely remember that there is a lot more to Chiriqui than Boquete! Pretty much anything you want can be found here except snow and hurricanes but who wants those? 😀