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Backpacking through Panama can be extraordinary if you know the best places to go. Here are some of the best gems in the country to head for if you’re a backpacker looking to get the most out of your experience.
Located in the mountains of the Chiriquí Highlands is a quaint village known as Boquete. Quiet and peaceful, Boquete is popular among retirees, and with good reason. The gorgeous landscape of coffee plantations surrounded by mountains is home to one of the top three private gardens in the world; it’s called Mi Jardin es Su Jardin. Ample opportunities for hiking as well as cozying up and relaxing with a cup of Panamanian coffee make Boquete an incredible place to backpack through. You can also expect exceptionally delicious, world-class food.
The Welsh privateer Captain Henry Morgan more or less destroyed Panama in 1671, but until then, it was the most important Spanish trading town on the entire Pacific coast. There are some ruins that remain today, including churches, convents, a hospital, bridges, and some stone walls, and a backpacking trip is not complete without a visit to the ruins of Panama Viejo (“Old Panama”).
This island chain is perfect for sailing, diving, and snorkeling. Backpackers often congregate on the San Blas islands on the Caribbean Sea, as do travelers on a budget, but there are high-end resorts here, too. The islands have a rustic feel and offer a phenomenal off-grid escape. San Blas is a world of islands all its own, and all are welcome here.
The most popular backpacker destination in Panama remains Bocas del Toro. This beachy bungalow town on the sea is equal parts Caribbean chillout and epic beach party. Surrounded by the jungle and rainforest, surfers love to come to Bocas del Toro to catch the tide during the day and party on the beach at night. Water taxis are everywhere waiting to take travelers to secret, secluded coves and extraordinary snorkeling locations.