Boca Chica Panama: Why It’s Central America’s Best Real Estate Buy
There aren’t many places in Central America, or anywhere for that matter, where you can truly have it all. Pristine natural beauty, access to modern conveniences, solitude, and adventure lurking around every corner.
These are all things that top most expats’ wish lists of characteristics they want in a home in the tropics, but unfortunately they aren’t often found wrapped up together in one neat little package.
I’ve found just such a place in Boca Chica, Panama.
What’s even less common is finding a place that offers all of these features at a great value and–as a really sweet bonus–unbelievable investment potential.
Unless, like me, you’re one of the first on the scene.
Even rarer is having the opportunity to invest in this same beautiful bargain property and watching its value increase soon after its purchase due to no effort on your part.
That’s happening in Boca Chica.
And it’s not just because it’s a quaint little fishing village that tourists and expats are just beginning to catch wind of, although it is. A lot of tropical hotspots get their start that way, and that’s great.
But Boca Chica is different. Not only is it a place with aesthetic appeal to please your senses, it also offers a serene natural environment with plenty of opportunities for active living that can actually help you improve your health and wellbeing. And, seeing as how this beautiful landscape is less than an hour away from an airport that’s about to receive international flights from the U.S. for the first time, its potential return on investment could have you smiling all the way to the bank.
****Disclaimer: This is NOT just some rumored up-and-coming hotspot whose bandwagon I’ve decided to hop on.****
If you’re thinking that it sounds like I’m incredibly optimistic about both the lifestyle and the Panama Real Estate investment potential offered by Boca Chica…well, then you’d be right. However, what you should also know is that these opinions are not ones at which I arrived hastily.
I’m not quick to jump on the bandwagon of some these “undiscovered gems” that are sure to be the next big thing in tropical real estate. By contrast, when my business partner and I were looking for a place to serve as the location for our newest development, we drove the entire Pacific Coast from Nicaragua all the way down through Ecuador, excluding Colombia.
Boca Chica was the place that stood out from the rest.
Not only for its amazing landscapes and the incredible lifestyle it offers. But, due to several factors I’ll discuss later, it hits an out-of-the-park home run in terms of investment potential.
Boca Chica, Panama, is like all of your tropical fantasy settings rolled into one.
There are no words to describe the landscape of Boca Chica and its surrounding islands. But I’ll try.
Located on Panama’s Pacific Coast, the Boca Chica mainland is a relatively unknown destination that’s accessed by only one paved road. Its rolling green hills are dotted with a few eco-friendly lodges and cabanas that wind their way down to secluded inlets with private beaches.
On the horizon, in the Gulf of Chiriqui, is an archipelago that is made up of over 50 islands, many completely uninhabited, which National Geographic described as “myriad emerald isles strewn like jewels in a sapphire sea.”
I couldn’t have said it better. It’s on these islands where the real beauty of Boca Chica, Panama, is to be found.
Equally as important as their beauty is the diversity to be found on the islands near Boca Chica. On some are deserted sand beaches lined with shady palms. On others murky mangroves, with their eerie silhouettes, give way to dense jungles, teeming with species that have yet to be identified.
A few islands are almost completely covered in primary rainforests, completely untouched by human interference. You could explore for the rest of your life and never see all the amazing sights in and around Boca Chica, nor could all the memory cards you own contain the images you’d want to document.
It’s just the right distance from civilization.
Before you start picturing Robinson Crusoe or a delirious Tom Hanks with his volleyball, let me bring you back to reality. While these islands may have the feel of some faraway land that time forgot, they’re actually relatively close to the mainland, with some being as little as a mile or less off the coast.
Once on the mainland, not only is there the village of Boca Chica, but the bustling city of David (Panama’s third largest) can be reached in well under an hour. In David, you can buy groceries or electronics, get a massage, have your teeth cleaned, see a new release at the multi-screen movie theater, or even hop a flight to Panama City for a much more glamorous getaway.
You may not want to do any of these things. In fact, once you arrive in Boca Chica, you’re likely not going to want to leave. Ever. Just know that these amenities and more are a short distance away should you need them.
This is why Boca Chica is such a great place to enjoy a remote tropical lifestyle without sacrificing access to any modern conveniences. While you’re there you can unplug and recharge your mind and soul. But, when you get ready, it’s a quick trip into town to restock.
Boca Chica offers a whole lot more than just lounging around on a deserted beach.
Because of its location and layout, the Boca Chica, Panama, area is an ocean lover’s dream. There’s so much to do on and around the many islands. It’s perfect for someone who’s looking for an active tropical lifestyle.
Of course, as I mentioned, there’s island-hopping. Popular destinations are the beautiful beaches of Isla Bolanos (see video below) and Isla Gamez, as well as Punta Bejuco on the mainland. Another great place to explore is Monte Vida Park, a 50-acre crowd funded park on Boca Chica Island, whose aim is to preserve and protect the island’s rainforest.
The waters that surround the islands are brimming with aquatic life, much of it quite tasty. Nearby lies the world-famous sport-fishing destination, Hannibal Bank, home to over 50 IGFA world record catches. At this location, the ocean floor rises drastically from thousands of feet in depth to under 200 feet. These high elevations push oxygen and nutrients to the surface, attracting massive numbers of bait fish, which in turn draw large fish like black marlin and yellowfin tuna. Fishermen from all over the world travel to the Gulf of Chiriqui where they pay thousands of dollars to spend a week reeling in sailfish, swordfish, snapper, and more until they can barely move their arms. In fact, here’s a video of the 300-pound yellowfin tuna I caught just a few years ago off the coast of Boca Chica.
Scuba Diving and Snorkelling
This same underwater topography makes the area a prime spot for diving as well. As you swim among coral reefs and layers of volcanic rock, you’ll see colorful fish, sea turtles, and giant manta rays, with as much as 80 feet of visibility when conditions are right.
Some great sites are Islas Ladrones and Islas Secas. Coiba National Park is another popular dive spot, where the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute estimates as much as half the species visible are as yet unidentified.
Panama is also becoming a popular surfing destination and was home to the 2010 ISA World Masters Surfing Championship. A good place to find great waves in the Gulf of Chiriqui is off the coast of Moro Negrito, an island with a small surfing community. It boasts a few grass huts, a handful of instructors, and swells as much as 20 feet high.
While these spots do offer some world-class surfing, I should mention that accessing them does require either a bit of a drive or a quick boat ride. So if being able to walk straight out your back door and down to the water with your board is highest priority, there are better real estate options in other parts of the Chiriqui province.
Boca Chica, Panama is also great for boating enthusiasts. Its waters have ideal sailing conditions, and you can rent a vessel at the Boca Chica marina or the Port of Pedregal, as well as the new Marina and Yacht Club on Isla Palenque. Other options for exploring include motor boats and even kayaks.
Boca Chica is a nature lover’s paradise.
Every single inch of Boca Chica’s land and sea is swarming with plant and animal life, a majority of which you’ve never seen before. In the rainforests, toucans and howler monkeys soar overhead. At sea, bottle-nosed dolphins swim alongside orca and sperm whales.
Study after study has proven the scientific benefits that being in nature has on your health, and there’s plenty of it to be found in Boca Chica.
In that place in between, the inner mangroves serve as a source of beauty and play an incredibly crucial role in the delicate balance of the tropical environment. Their roots filter pollutants and prevent them from reaching the open sea. Their nutrient-rich water and soil sustains a variety of species, including young tropical fish that hide in the mangroves’ depths until they’re large enough to survive in the nearby reefs.
They also prevent erosion and serve as a buffer from flooding due to hurricanes. On the flip side, they also serve as reservoirs, slowly releasing their supply during Panama’s dry season.
One of the most majestic sights in and around Boca Chica is the migration of the humpback whale, which makes its annual 4,000 mile trek (the longest of any animal) from the arctic to the warm waters of the Gulf of Chiriqui, their tropical mating ground.
They’re seen often starting as early as May, but their sightings peak around October and November just before their return.
The waters around Boca Chica are home to Chiriqui Gulf National Park and Coiba National Park, both home to a number of marine species including whales, dolphins, and turtles. While many of these can be seen throughout the gulf, they’re most prevalent within the parks’ protected waters.
Visitors to the parks can enjoy sailing, whale watching, snorkelling, fishing, and camping.
There’s even more if you’re willing to venture a short distance from Boca Chica.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, there are even more things to see and do if you’re willing to take a short drive inland from the coast of Boca Chica, Panama. The Chiriqui province is full of amazing adventures, so much so that the Panamanian government has been heavily developing it as a major tourist draw.
Both the Rio Chiriqui and the Chiriqui Viejo rivers are home to some of the country’s best whitewater rafting. The high elevations and frequent rainfall make it a perfect destination for enjoying year-round rapids, ranging from Class I to Class V.
Nearby Boquete, in the Chiriqui highlands, is a popular expat destination and a great day trip from Boca Chica. Famous for its flowers and coffee plantations, it’s a beautiful place to spend some time.
Another popular attraction is zip lining or canopy tours through the cloud forests of Chiriqui. It’s a great adrenaline rush, and it’s also one of the best ways to see the forest interior, as well as birds like the resplendent quetzal.
The highest point in Panama, at 11,400 feet above sea level, Volcan Baru is also a short distance from Boca Chica. A hike to its summit is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Many visitors start at midnight, reaching the peak just in time to see the breathtaking sunrise and hope for a clear view of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
But I haven’t even told you the best part.
I hinted around at the investment potential hidden deep beneath the surface of the waters around Boca Chica, Panama. Now let me unpack a little bit more about why it’s such a savvy choice.
For starters, there’s still a ton of investment upside.
Boca Chica has all the ingredients for a world-class destination: natural beauty, plenty of adventure options, and close proximity to services and amenities. Yet, it’s still relatively unknown.
As a result prices haven’t skyrocketed. Yet. Even with all of these amazing opportunities, you can still buy oceanfront property on one of the many gulf islands at a really great price.
The Panamanian government is in the process of investing tens of millions of dollars into the Enrique Malek International Airport in David, which you’ll remember is less than an hour from Boca Chica. These improvements include expansions and renovations that will open this region of Panama to direct international flights from the U.S. and Canada for the first time ever.
Accessing Boca Chica, which is already easy, is about to become simpler than ever.
What that means is an increase in visitors to the area, an increase in new businesses, and a big jump in real estate values.
It’s a foolproof formula that my business partner and I have used time and time again with our own real estate investments. I’ve seen it on a small scale, where the value of an inaccessible virgin beach was driven up sharply just because they built a road where there wasn’t one before.
I’ve also seen entire regions benefit from improved infrastructure. Take Costa Rica’s Daniel Oduber Quirós International Airport in Liberia, for example. When it was built in the late 1970’s, the province of Guanacaste was just a hole in the wall. The building of an international airport changed that.
It set things in motion, and today the region is full of resorts like the Four Seasons and a Hilton.
The country saw a similar phenomenon when talk surfaced about the possibility of a new international airport in its Southern Zone. The mere mention of its construction, which still has yet to begin, was enough to spur tourism operators into business and cause real estate values to increase.
It’s easy to see why we bought a 400-acre island in Boca Chica for our newest Adventure Colony.
That’s why I’m so sure that Boca Chica is the single best place to buy real estate in Central America. Because I believe in this model for real estate investment, because I love Boca Chica and its serene natural environment, and because I believe there are others out there who might also like to benefit from the opportunities it offers.
That’s why it’s the site my partner and I have chosen for our latest Adventure Colony. What’s an Adventure Colony? It’s a place for people who want a tropical lifestyle, but not the kind that involves gated communities or all-inclusives or high-rise condos. The island is almost completely covered in primary rainforest, and we intend to keep it that way.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Adventure Colony lifestyle and how you can invest in property on Boca Chica island, you can get the answers to your questions by downloading our latest ebook.
Map of Boca Chica
Boca Chica Fast Facts
- Population: About 1,200 (Numbers are hard to nail down, but this is a good guestimate)
- Typical temperature: From 70 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit
- Nearest airport with U.S. flights: Tocumen Airport. Domestic flights to Panama City, Panama and international flights to Costa Rica depart from Enrique Malek International Airport in David
- Nearest U.S. consulate: Panama City