Thought you had explored all the nook and crannies of the Isthmus of Panama? Odds are you just might have missed this off-the-beaten-track piece of paradise.
If you set out from David on the Interamerican Highway towards Santiago, on the way to Panama City, a treat awaits you approximately one hour into your drive. Upon reaching the Horconcito turnoff (signage on highway) turn right and be prepared for unsurpassed scenery, the beauty of which will assault your senses.
Boca Chica itself is a quaint fishing village perched beside the Gulf of Chiriqui, on the Pacific side, in the San Lorenzo district. A few well kept homes, a sprinkling of small fondas and mini supers, and a marina make up the business district of this clean, well-cared for town.
Surrounded by stunning views, lush rainforests, sparkling azure waters, and a profusion of multi-hued blossoms, this area is like a tiny corner of the Promised Land.
It promises either peace, quiet, and serenity (there is only the one access from the highway), or more lively adventure such as sport fishing, kayaking, and more. Much more.
Boca Chica is on the mainland but in close proximity to several outlying islands, as yet mostly pristine and virtually uninhabited. Think warm, deserted sandy beaches, majestic swaying palm trees, mangrove swamps, and tropical jungles teeming with exotic wildlife and birds. Toucans, howler monkeys, dolphins, whales, and a glorious undersea world await your viewing pleasure.
Isla Bolanos, Boca Brava, and Boca Chica Island are but a sample of this necklace of islands ripe to be explored and enjoyed.
The area is a sport fisherman’s idea of Heaven as it has been the site of numerous world record catches. Avid fisherman travel from everywhere in the world seeking black marlin, yellowfin tuna, sailfish, and swordfish.
The Gulf of Chiriqui is the tropical mating ground for humpback whales who travel four thousand miles from Alaska to complete their life cycle.
There are two or three reputable fishing lodges in the area where fishing, sightseeing, and sailing charters are offered according to the sea life schedule. The gulf provides ideal sailing and kayaking conditions, and both are available for rental at the Boca Chica Marina.
If scuba diving and snorkeling among the coral reefs and volcanic rocks are on your list of things to do, this destination is for you. Sea turtles, giant manta rays, and a myriad of gorgeous tropical fish will surround and delight you.
Enjoy diving? Nearby Coiba National Park is a haven for sea life of every description, many of which are astonishingly not yet formally identified.
Accommodation is on a spectrum from small, clean hostels, to bed and breakfast, to stylish boutique hotels.
Not the least of these by far is Seagullcove Lodge. My husband and I had the distinct pleasure of spending a night and day in this elegant yet comfortable oasis and it ranks as one of our most enjoyed Panama experiences. It consists of a group of five comfortable immaculate bungalows, each with a private veranda overlooking unsurpassed ocean views and nestled within lush tropical gardens. This charming hotel boasts a swimming pool where one can soak and enjoy the ocean activity, a private beach, complete with a platform for sunbathing and kayaks for rental, and a private boat dock.
At the end of this dock sits a quaint, whimsical thatched roof hut called the Tiki Bar. Although only open Saturday nights, it provides lively music and drinks for guests, locals, and guests from the neighbouring resorts.
The restaurant located in the main building is small but well appointed. The food is excellent and the service is impeccable. To our delight we discovered that the friendly, efficient manager, Melissa, whips up and serves to-die-for strawberry margaritas and pina coladas as just one of her many talents.
The staff are eager and willing to make your stay as comfortable as possible, even to organizing activities, charters, and guided tours. Conveniently, Gone Fishing Lodge, located right next door, will provide everything that you require in that regard.
To the opposite side of Seagullcove Lodge sits another small resort. Bocas del Mar was the dream of a Belgian couple who have built a lovely establishment featuring an ocean front thatched roof villa in a stunning tropical setting. Guests are accommodated in large, airy bungalows, virtually at the water’s edge. Swim in one of the two large infinity pools or soak up the rays and the spectacular view on the large poolside terrace. Enjoy a delicious meal in the onsite restaurant or relax with a cold beverage as you watch the sailboats making their leisurely way toward the outlying islands.
Bocas del Mar boasts its own dock from which you can board their private excursion boat for a tour of the area or a beach-hopping interlude.
Whereas Seagullcove Lodge exudes a more intimate “old world charm”, Bocas del Mar provides a contemporary, though serene, atmosphere.
Whether seeking a secluded retirement home, a restful, scenic haven in which to unwind and relax for a few days…or weeks…or months, or an exciting, heart pumping adventure, Boca Chica and the surrounding islands have it all, including close proximity to all the modern conveniences. This as yet mostly undiscovered treasure has recently been called the single best place to buy real estate in Central America. Investment potential is wide open and beckoning. Several magnificent retirement homes have already been built and businesses are popping up with more regularity than ever before.