Getting Away to Our Weekday Refuge in Boca Chica, Panama

I’m sitting on the lanai (veranda) of our bungalow, looking out over the glistening waters of the cove at several small islands a few hundred yards away. How lucky we are to be in Boca Chica, in Panama’s Chiriquí province.

Morning sunlight is just beginning to spill over the treetops to my left and illuminate the sailboats anchored in the cove. On the right side of the cove, an early morning fishing charter is leaving and going out for a day of sport fishing. The sound of the outboard motor, small waves crashing on the shoreline, and the songs of several species of birds, can be heard rising up the hillside to our bungalow. A zipping hummingbird just arrived at two bright red hibiscus flowers for some early breakfast about eight feet from where I’m sitting. The diverse wildlife and scenery available only a few hours from home are one of the reasons my wife, Abbe, and I love living in Panama so much.

Our two-day visit to Boca Chica, on the Pacific Ocean, was something we just decided to do a few weeks ago. In Pedasí, where we have lived full-time for the past 18 months, the ocean is only three miles away, and we go to the pristine, deserted beaches a few times per week with our two Panamanian rescue dogs, Riley and Sophie. The Pedasí coast is relatively flat, with many long and wide beaches. In Boca Chica, sloping tree-covered hills lead down to the water’s edge, creating a more rugged shoreline. Small islands with only a few homes perched high above the water form a very different perspective for us.

Boca Chica, Chiriquí is a small fishing village only one hour away from David City and just over a four-hour drive from our home in Pedasí.

Life here centers on water activities: Whale watching (July to October on a private boat for only $120 for four hours), snorkeling, scuba diving, island hopping to pristine and empty beaches on Boca Brava Island ($6), half-day island tours to private white-sand beaches ($135), and some of the best deep-sea fishing in Panama. Anglers come from distant places to pursue and catch giant yellow tuna, marlins, snapper, and other fish. Many boat captains live in town and brightly colored orange lifejackets hang on clotheslines drying in the sun. There are a few fondas (local restaurants) where you can enjoy delicious fresh seafood just caught that day for less than $15, and have a cold cerveza or other beverage for only $1 or $2.

There are also plenty of free activities in the area such as nature walks, bird watching, or just relaxing on Playa Hermosa beach.

We stayed in a bungalow in Seagull Cove Resort. It’s a small and intimate place. There are only four loungers at the pool—not forty. No need to rush out early and save a chair with your towel. Yesterday we floated around the pool all by ourselves for nearly two hours. For landlubbers, the knowledgeable staff will arrange horseback riding ($25), yoga classes ($15), or a relaxing massage ($65 on your own patio).

These types of mini-vacations to beautifully diverse geographic areas—only a few hours from home—are one of the reasons we love living in Panama.

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