What is Going on in Chiriqui?

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.

That’s Boquete below

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? 😀

About Kris Cunningham

We live in David, Chiriqui Provence, Republic of Panama! This blog is about some of our experiences in our new country.
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10 Responses to What is Going on in Chiriqui?

  1. Robert&Helen. says:

    Kris. Next time you go to Boquete take when you are on street level the first sharp turn to the right, left, left and you will en up at the police station. Easier to drive and hardly any traffic.


    • Thanks! I think we have used that one when the main road was blocked. When we play at the Brewery we have a couple creative ways to get there when we have to use back roads.


  2. Fred Shaw says:

    Hi Kris, Fred and Joanne here.
    we have been in Volcan, Chiriqui for 30 days now and enjoying the Cool Weather, slower pace and excellent fresh fruits and veggies that are grown in the surrounding area. Joanne has made fresh Carrot and Beet Soups.
    we have been to Boquette s few times (purchased our truck and went to Gringo Market) and know what you mean about the streets in town.
    But like you say, the diversity in Chiriqui is amazing!
    we were in Cordillera recently and could see all the down to the Pacific. We even saw an Oil Tanker waiting in the bay to either pick up or drop off oil at Puerto Armuelles. What a beautiful view!
    Anyway, next we plan to be in David we’ll let you know in advance. Hopefully we can meet up to visit.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Tell us about the brewery some time where you play. Sounds very interesting!


  4. Sherry Felix says:

    Good to get the update on Boquete. I know how construction stops and starts and stops in Panama. Driving in David was a TRIP! I’m a bird watcher and loved the birds up in the hills. I’m not big fan of beaches. A trip on a boat is fun now and then.


  5. jim and nena says:

    Hola Kris,
    Starting in 1970, I have seen Boquete survive at least 4 major floods. The condition Boquete is in now is worse and has lasted longer than the recovery from the floods. That fact and the general country-wide economic slowdown could mean that buying a bargain and waiting for a turnaround could be a long wait. And, there is an election nearing which could add to the uncertainty, driving prices even lower. Every popular expat destination encounters a tipping point which triggers the next most desirable expat destination. Every country in Central America has a history of this trend.


    • You have way more experience in this area than I do. But, things seem to be booming in general. There is an amazing amount of development and construction in the David area, and Boquete seems to be becoming the place to go for live music and restaurants. I think if they ever get the water project done, the streets put right, and the place cleaned up people will come back. But as you said there are many factors at play so we’ll wait and see.


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