exploring panama by road trip

Goodbye Curiosity, Hello Cloud Forest – Panama Road Trip

Six years of our lives were spent living on the road traveling the peaks and valleys of North America.  Road trips are etched in our blood like the initials of lovers encased with a heart and arrow on a shade tree.  We have a special kind of love for road tips and the more precarious and less traveled the road, the more exciting the trip becomes.  I’ll take winding dirt roads, the sound of rocks hitting the undercarriage and dust flying in through the air vents over an interstate any day.  It’s an excitement for the unknown and possibilities of what lies ahead.  It’s a similar feeling we get when sailing only slightly more predictable.

Enter Panama.

We’ve been living at sea level aboard S/V Curiosity for almost two years.  So, when we reached the port of Bocas Del Toro in Panama and could see craggy peaks off in the distance…well, as John Muir said, “the mountains are calling and I must go”.

For the first time since becoming sailors, we pack up the cats and drive the 3,900 feet of elevation to the Chiriquí Highlands village of Boquete.

I hope those sneak peeks in the last few seconds of the video have you excited about what’s next…because we are stoked to show you the beauty we found here!

Boquete was once an almost completely unknown farming village quietly growing bananas and coffee. In the early 2000’s several magazines started touting it as “the land of eternal springtime” and the “best expat destination in the world”.  Fast forward a few years and insert the insane geisha coffee stardom and now this village has become the destination in Panama. After our next few adventures, I think you’ll agree it’s a well earned fame.

exploring panama by road trip

boquete Panama

I think what we like most about this town is the fact it may be “famous” but we’d never heard of it before.  Even crazier is the fact that we’re self proclaimed coffee snobs yet we didn’t realize the best coffee we’ve ever tasted came from Panama!  There’s no doubt Boquete will only get more popular as others discover this little gem set high in the mountains, but for now it’s still wonderfully authentic.  If you couldn’t tell from the video, we had a blast and would urge anyone looking for a cool escape (literally and figuratively) to visit.

water taxi fun in panama

More than one way to get to Boquete

While it took us two water taxis, one shared van ride and a rental car to get to Boquete there are other options.  We could have hopped on the public bus at Almirante and ridden the 4-6 hours there for around $35 per person.  But, we wanted the freedom of having a car and let me tell you…it was the right choice!  There is so much to see and do all around the area and there is no way we could have squeezed in all the adventures we did without a car.  It may be a bit more expensive but the freedom was worth every penny.

Sailing Road Trip Report

To see our full map with interactive pins, click here:

Boquete travel map

  • Dates Stayed: August 24 – 31, 2017
  • Nautical Miles Sailed: 0
  • Miles Driven: Over 400km round trip from Changuinola to Boquete
  • Anchorage:  We left Curiosity docked at Red Frog Marina on Isla Bastimentos.
  • Hostel: Fireside Inn and Grill.  We paid $54 a night, it was basic and marginally clean but a friendly and an inexpensive base camp for the week.  Our options were limited because of the cats and needing a pet friendly place to stay. Otherwise, we would have picked another location.
  • Cell & WiFi: We had good +movil and clairo cell phone service here.

Gear Used In This Video

Cameras Used to Capture This Video


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Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (18)

  • Tony Dawe

    I have been watching your videos for years and thoroughly enjoy them. I am an RVer and started watching for the RV content. When you switched to sailing, i still enjoyed the content because the general ideas of travel and exploring remain the same. However, I am not a sailor! I think you guys would do a great job with a video explaining some of the sailing terms you use regularly. I am not looking for sailing lessons just an simple explanation of what you are doing and why it is required.
    examples: “reefing in the sail” and “apparent wind”

  • John Archer

    Amazing and beautiful. Another GREAT video, I could feel the mist of the clouds and smell the coffee:) I do hope you checked all the bags before getting back on the boat. Would not want a stowaway (like a spider) to get loose!! Stay safe, have fun and God bless.

  • Tracy H

    Can’t wait to see more of the adventure. Gotta say though, I’ve got a spider phobia, and that sucker would be dead the second I saw it (thanks to my knight in shining armor husband). Any problems getting your land legs back? Blessings to you all.

  • Mary

    That hike looks pretty incredible! So crazy to see you guys hiking again! Well, I guess I haven’t seen it yet. I bet it was tough after being on the warer for so long!

  • Kristi

    1. Will the cats take the hike with you or stay behind & fight spiders
    2.i too wondered about them Sea- legs to high elevations
    You guys are so brave ! Im loving the trip, please be safe , have fun.

  • Wendi Bloedorn

    So glad to see you enjoying the people and beauty of Panama. If it is still in your itinerary to travel to Costa Rica try to get to the Central Valley ( provinces surrounding San Jose ). Car rentals are easy there and with the super highway you can be ( from the coast in the area of Jaco ) in the central valley in about an hour. There are many fantastic coffee farms/tours which I know you would appreciate along with the cultural and nature activities, and some darn good food! As far as the beaches go, try and make it to Montezuma and Santa Teresa. Two cool little funky beach towns that I prefer over the more touristy beaches. C.R. is a beautiful country, hope you get up that way. Pura Vida ?

  • It’s some much fun ans so interesting to discover new places by watching your videos. Keep it up!

  • Deborah Kerr

    Beautiful place! Those banana trucks struck me as awesome for some reason – never saw so many bunches at one time like that going down the road! 🙂

  • Gina Davis

    I absolutely loved this video. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

  • I know exactly what you mean about the roads in Panama. The taxi driver’s in the city are even worse! In 2016 we visited a good friend who lives about an hour and a half drive up the mountains outside Panama City in Cerra Azule (a community of ex-pats from numerous countries). I thought we were going to die numerous times driving to and from the city! Unfortunately, I broke both bones in my ankle when I slipped stepping into a dugout canoe, and our trip had to be cut in half, as I chose to fly back to the US to have surgery. Panama brings back both pleasant and unpleasant memories for me. Plus there were starving dogs everywhere – no cats, though, because the Orientals who live there eat them. Keep your cats inside,

  • Connie Woods

    That was amazing, really can’t wait to see the rest of your adventure! I bought a French press today….Awe!! Coffee!! most definitely wish I was there. 2 years….where is the time going? Double Yeah for huge adventures! So happy for you all! Big Love and hurry up Sunday!????

  • Tev B

    Bet you paid a lot less for that cherimoya than here in the states! Looked better too. My brother grows them in Florida and my husband loves them and agreed with your description of the taste for the most part. The spider freaked me out!! Too big. Be sure and check your food stock. They like to hide. Ewwwww.

  • George Hofmann

    I’m the old guy in the crowd. I keep thinking back to Curiosity’s safety. But you guys are experienced and smart so Ihope she’s safe.
    The scenery was delightful and the company is marvelous so, keep churning out Panamanian knowledge.

  • Cindy T

    Hi ,

    I am wondering how you feel on land after living so long at sea?


  • Marc Montero

    Jason it’s only $375 round-trip from Panama City Panama to DFW please buy a ticket and renew your drivers license no offense Nikki but you were making me nervous I’ll gladly chip in for your airline ticket

  • Tracy

    Wow that spider has me wondering if it was poisonous! I hope not. Do you feel safe there after that guy stopped you and asked where you were going? Kind of strange! Anyways can’t wait to see the next video.

  • Sarah

    Can’t wait to see the next videos! And man oh man so I want a cup of coffee now.


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