If you are planning a trip to Central America, don’t miss out on the charming town of David in Panama. Located in the western part of the country, David is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by travelers.
However, this town has plenty to offer, from its vibrant culture to its stunning natural attractions. In this article, we’ll guide you through the top things to do and see in David, Panama.
In practice, there’s no real need to do this when travelling from Santa Catalina. This is because the regular shuttle bus service from Santa Catalina travels straight to Boquete with just a short stop in David.
Getting to Know David
David is a city with a rich history and culture that dates back to pre-colonial times. The indigenous Ngäbe-Buglé people have lived in the area for thousands of years, and their influence can still be felt throughout the region today.
With a population of around 150,000 people, it is the third-largest city in the country.
When it comes to getting around David, there are plenty of options available. The city has a well-developed transportation network, with buses and taxis readily available. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding countryside, renting a car is also a great option.
We were dropped off our bus at the north end of the city, and walked down to the center. It wasn’t too far to walk, and considering the amount of traffic crawling along the road into town, this was probably the best way of travelling.
However, it’s difficult to find street names, so our GPS map turned out to be useful.
Exploring David’s Historic Landmarks
David is home to several historic landmarks that offer visitors a glimpse into the city’s rich past.
Parque Cervantes is a beautiful park located in the heart of David. The park is known for its impressive statue of Miguel de Cervantes, the Spanish author of the famous novel, Don Quixote.
Parque Cervantes is a great place to relax and enjoy the local culture, as it is often used for outdoor concerts and festivals.
Museo de Historia de David
The Museo de Historia de David is a small museum that showcases the history and culture of the town. The museum has exhibits that date back to pre-Columbian times, as well as displays that highlight the colonial period and the town’s development over time.
Sendero Los Quetzales
Sendero Los Quetzales is a popular hiking trail that starts in the town of Boquete and ends in Cerro Punta. The trail is named after the rare and beautiful quetzal bird, which can be spotted along the way. The trail is approximately 9 kilometers long and takes around 5 hours to complete.
Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriqui
Parque Nacional Marino Golfo de Chiriqui is a national park located off the coast of David. The park is known for its beautiful beaches and diverse marine life. Visitors can go snorkeling or scuba diving to see colorful coral reefs, sea turtles, and schools of tropical fish.
Things to do in David, Panama
If you’re planning to spend some time in David, there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.
Visit the Boquete Coffee Plantations
The town of Boquete is located just 30 minutes north from David, and is known for its coffee plantations. You can take a tour of the plantations and learn about the process of growing and harvesting coffee beans. You can also sample some of the world-renowned coffee that is produced in the region.
Explore the Chiriqui Highlands
The Chiriqui Highlands are a group of mountains located near David. Visitors can go hiking or horseback riding to explore the region’s stunning natural beauty. The highlands are also home to several small towns, where visitors can learn about the local culture and try traditional foods.
Go Bird Watching
David is a great place for bird watchers, as it is home to a wide variety of species. The town is surrounded by lush forests and is located near several national parks, making it an ideal location for spotting rare and beautiful birds.
Attend the David International Fair
The David International Fair is a yearly event that takes place in March. The fair is a celebration of the town’s culture and traditions, and features live music, food, and exhibitions. Visitors can try traditional dishes and see displays of local crafts and artwork.
Explore the Gulf of Chiriqui
The Gulf of Chiriqui is a beautiful area located off the coast of David. You can take a boat tour to explore the region’s stunning natural beauty, which includes secluded beaches and hidden coves.
The gulf is also home to several islands, where you can go snorkeling, kayaking, or simply relax on the beach.
Where to Stay in David, Panama
There are several accommodation options in David, ranging from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Our hotel of choice was the Hotel Residencial Cervantes, located in the center of town.
Hotel Residencial Cervantes David
The room we were given at the hotel was a bit old-fashioned, with a dated airco system. But the bed was comfortable and there was cable TV. Our room cost $42 for the one night, including taxes but excluding breakfast.
Since we arrived late afternoon, it was already getting dark when we found a Romero supermarket close to the hotel. We bought some snacks there to eat back at the hotel.
Early the following morning we took a look around the area close to the hotel. David, officially San José de David, is the capital of the province of Chiriquí. We were located close to the Parque Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
Right next door to our hotel we found a bakery where we ordered pasties and coffee. Nearby, there was a lot of commercial activity around the busy Parque Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
You can also visit the Parish church – Parroquia La Sagrada Familia.
Chiriqui’s Indigenous People
More noticeable in David than in other places we visited in Panama were the Ngäbe – Chiriqui’s indigenous people.
The women and young girls often wear the traditional brightly colored cotton dresses with shoulder and neckline adornments, and embroidered bands around the waist and bottom. These are called naguas, and are usually made at home.
The triangular and straight-line designs represent the mountains and rivers of Comarca.
The Ngäbes have distinctive high cheekbones, broad faces, full mouths, thick straight black hair, tanned skin, short stature and stocky body size.
Onwards to Boquete via David Central Bus Station
The main bus station in David is on Paseo Estudiante, just 10 minutes walk from the Hotel Residencial Cervantes.
The bus station platforms are clearly marked. Luckily, we were among the first to board our minibus to Boquete. The bus rapidly filled to capacity, with not even standing room. We were planning to spend 4 days up in the mountains of the extensive Boquete region.
However, our first priority would be trying to explain to the bus conductor exactly where we wanted to get off…
If you like David, Panama, check out our full Panama Roundtrip. You may also like: