Getting Oriented

The provincial capital of David sits centrally located in the lowlands and is no more than two hours from most of Chiriquí's attractions. The Carretera Interamericana skirts David's northern edge, as a four-lane highway. It becomes a two-lane road east of town, where it leads to the town of Chiriquí and to the turnoff for Boca Chica, the gateway to Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriquí. A 30-minute drive southwest of David takes you to Playa Barqueta; a 40-minute drive north takes you to Boquete. Concepción is a short drive west of David on the Interamericana, and there the road veers north to Volcán, Bambito, and Cerro Punta, bases from which to explore the Barú Volcano. The Costa Rican border at Paso Canoas lies about 20 minutes west on the Interamericana.

The Lowlands and Gulf. From the city life of bustling David to the tranquil beaches of the pristine coastline, the Lowlands and Gulf pack enough variety to satisfy nearly any traveler’s vacation desires. Less than an hour from the province’s capital are the black-sand beaches of Playa La Barqueta, fading into greys and eventually snow-white strands along the Gulf of Chiriquí. In Boca Chica, where freestanding bungalows are perched on peninsulas accessible by boat, you'll find a haven for sportfishing. The region has plenty of activities if the fish aren’t biting, too—kayaking, snorkeling, horseback riding, and hiking (with Howler monkeys overhead). For world-class surfing, Playa Santa Catalina consistently delivers epic waves, and is the closest port to Isla Coiba, Panama’s top dive destination.

The Mountains. The mountains offer unspoiled splendor where travelers enjoy a scenic landscape with diverse ecology and wildlife. In the small towns of Volcan, Bambito, and Cerra Punta, wild rivers frame farm roads where rusty tractors are parked under tin-roof shacks. Patchwork fields cover hillsides, with clouds rolling in fast and low as if on the verge of swallowing mountains whole. Famous for its coffee farms, hiking trails, and bird population, Boquete’s greatest attraction is the town itself, where tiny wooden houses are draped in pink-and-purple bougainvillea as common as weeds. An added bonus are the two highland national parks, La Amistad and Volcan Baru.

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