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Get Off The Beaten Trail: 7 Adventurous Day Trips from Boca Chica, Panama

With its perfect climate, sandy beaches, and serene setting, Boca Chica is a destination all its own.  But in addition to the opportunities to stick around and relax on its beaches and explore its waters, Boca Chica also offers a number of nearby attractions that can all be accessed and enjoyed within the course of a day.

Boca Chica is a great destination for expats who want plenty of options nearby for adventure and exploration.  It’s also a great landing spot for the traveler who’s looking for a peaceful retreat where they can still easily get out and enjoy extreme sports or just connect with nature.

In Boca Chica itself, you can go snorkeling, scuba diving, or fishing.  You can also visit Chiriqui Gulf National Park, which is home to sharks, turtles, and stingrays.  But if you’re willing to venture out a little further, here are several great day trips to keep you entertained during your stay.

1. Go swimming at Los Cangilones de Gualaca.

This natural swimming hole lies in a basin that was created by the Esti River over the course of many thousands of years.  Visitors can take a refreshing dip in its cool waters and enjoy the beautiful scenery that surrounds this natural wonder.

In addition to the pool, the formation also includes a channel which has enough current to provide some decent exercise, much like a stationary lap pool.  You can bring a picnic or go into the local village for some food.  Guided tours of the area are also available.

2. See two oceans from the top of Volcan Baru.

photo by Ken Mayer

Ken Mayer

Panama’s highest point, at 11,400 feet, Volcan Baru offers an eight-mile hike to its peak that is best attempted by only those in excellent physical shape.  The path takes hikers through lush hillsides and jungles before finally reaching the rocky cliffs of the summit.

Many ambitious travelers begin their climb at midnight, hoping to reach the summit in time for the breathtaking sunrise that illuminates views of both the Caribbean and the Pacific.  Although clouds often obscure the view, the volcano’s peak also offers a panoramic view of the surrounding 35,000-acre park that is home to pumas, tapirs, and over 250 species of birds.

3. Save a sea turtle at Playa la Barqueta.

The wildlife refuge at Playa la Barqueta is home to five different species of sea turtles, which nest on its beaches.  Olive ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead, and green sea turtles can be seen from June to November.  Olive ridleys can also be seen from November to March, along with the enormous leatherback turtles.

At night during high tide you can see the turtles crawling onto the beach to bury their eggs in the sand, where two months later the babies will dig their way out and shuffle back to the sea.  On occasion, visitors may see local advocates releasing rehabilitated turtles that have been injured by poachers or natural predators.

4. Zip through the clouds on a canopy tour in Boquete.

photo by Angie Harms

Angie Harms

Nearby Boquete offers many opportunities for adventure.  But none can “top” the zip line tours located high in its mountainside cloud forests.  Not only will participants enjoy a rush of adrenaline, they will also enjoy a guided tour through centuries-old forest as they zip past waterfalls and a variety of wildlife.

Species spotted along the 3.5 to 4 hour tour might include monkeys, exotic orchids, and possibly even the rare resplendent quetzal.  Guides provide plenty of instructions and safety precautions.  The 12 lines cover a total of three kilometers through the lush forests.

5. Discover ancient artifacts at Sitio Barriles.

photo by Dianne Fristrom

Dianne Fristrom

Located near the town of Volcan, Sitio Barriles is one of Panama’s most famous archaeological sites.  It’s also one of the few that’s regularly accessible to the public. On display at Sitio Barriles are a number of ancient artifacts, many unearthed from that very location.

Items unearthed indicate that the location was once a ceremonial site.  They include basalt rock artifacts from Volcan Baru, pottery, and urns containing ashes of the ancient deceased.  In addition to the artifacts, the owners of the property use the adjoining land to grow coffee, which is available for purchase.  They also offer a selection of cheese, wine, and jelly.

6. Recharge from your adventures in the hot springs of Caldera.

Outside of Boquete lies a series of mineral water pools that are renowned for their healing properties.  The Caldera hot springs are a great place to soak and recover from a few days of physically demanding adventures in and around Boca Chica.

These pools are uncrowded, and several large stones offer privacy for you and your group of travelers.  For a refreshing splash following your hot bath, try taking a dip in the adjacent Rio Caldera whose cool waters also offer the occasional hot pockets.

7. Bodysurf at Las Lajas Beach.

photo by Mor


Not too far from Boca Chica are the beaches of Las Lajas, which extend for eight miles along the coast.  This stretch of coast owes its appeal to its water temperature and mild current that’s perfect for bodysurfing or swimming.  Not to mention, it’s a place where you can stroll along the beach forever.

Not overly crowded, the beach is dotted with a few little shacks and cheap restaurants. However, your best bet is to pack a lunch.  You’ll likely be eating it alone on your very own stretch of isolated beach.

What’s your favorite day trip from Boca Chica, Panama?

When visiting Boca Chica, you’ll likely be tempted to stick around in close proximity for the entire duration of your stay.  However, if you choose to wander out in search of adventure, these and other destinations are well within arm’s reach.

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