Imagine relaxing in a natural hot spring in the mountainous jungles of Panama. You can hear birds chirping and a river flowing nearby as you soak in 38°C water. Sounds pretty magical, right? It is!
On our recent family trip to Boquete, Panama we drove about 45 minutes from the town center to Caldera Hot Springs. Caldera Hot Springs is an off-the-beaten adventure but was one of our favorite activities of the entire vacation.
If you’re interested in visiting Caldera Hot Springs near Boquete, Panama this travel guide will tell you everything you need to know. Starting with how to get there, what to bring, the cost of entry, and other helpful things to know before you go.
Quick facts about Caldera Hot Springs, Panama
- Distance from Boquete: 45 minutes by car
- Road conditions: High clearance or 4×4 vehicle recommended
- Cost of entry: $7 USD per person as of July 2023 cash only
- Time spent there: 2 to 3 hours on average
- Location: Google Map pin (but Google Maps will not take you there properly. See directions below.)
How to get to Caldera Hot Springs
To get to Caldera Hot Springs you can either drive your own vehicle or hire a tour guide. There are colectivos or public buses that go from Boquete to Caldera. But the buses operate infrequently and the drop-off area isn’t close to the springs. For this reason, a tour guide or your own vehicle is your best bet.
A tour guide should cost you around $35 to $50 USD per person depending on the number of people in your group. We drove to Caldera Hot Springs in our rental car we got in David. We highly recommend getting a rental car if your budget allows. Most of the activities we did in Boquete required a 15 to 30-minute drive and it just gave us the freedom to travel more comfortably.
Most people will be traveling to Caldera Hot Springs from Boquete. Google told us it would be a 30-minute drive to get there. However, we quickly realized road conditions would turn what should have been 30 minutes into 45 minutes.
The drive starts on Highway 10. This is a paved pothole-filled two-lane highway that winds through the mountains of Boquete. After about 25 minutes we reached the town of Caldera (which translates to boiling pot). This is where things got tricky for us.
Google Maps wanted us to travel through private property that was blocked off by a locked gate.
There was a well-marked sign saying “no entre, propiedad privada” (which means private property, no entry). So obviously, that wasn’t an option. Luckily, there were locals nearby to give us the correct directions to get to the springs.
Below are the correct directions to the springs. I had to add personal pins to Google Maps (no matter how hard I tried I could not get Google to re-direct or send us this way). So unfortunately I cannot share the route. However, if you follow these directions. You should get there without a hitch!
We drove about 2 minutes back up Via Caldera where we eventually saw a blue sign on the side of the road that said “pozas calientes”, meaning hot pools in Spanish. We took a left at the blue sign (following the directions the sign indicated) and drove about 5-7 minutes on a now dirt and bumpy road until we got to a hydroelectric dam.
This section was super confusing to us, but we continued straight over the suspension bridge. The worker there confirmed we were going in the right direction. 🙌🏼 We drove for a few more minutes before running into another suspension bridge.
From here we followed the road toward Caldera Hot Springs which took us about another 10 minutes to drive. This section of the road was quite steep with much larger ruts and rocks and took us a while to traverse. This section of the road in particular is why we recommend having a 4×4 or high-clearance vehicle. We were in a sedan car rental and bottomed out a few times. But we made it!
There was a small parking area at the top of a hill with a sign that said no vehicles permitted beyond this point. So we continued by foot. It took us about 15 minutes to walk to the hot springs area passing several beautiful fields with cattle and small river crossings.
Caldera Hot Springs is located on private property. We were greeted by the owner where we paid $7 per person (children were free) to enter and he showed us where each spring was located.
Looking for more awesome activities to do in Boquete? Check out some of the recommended tours below.
What to bring to Caldera Hot Springs
Caldera Hot Springs near Boquete, Panama is located at a slightly lower elevation in the mountains of Panama. The temperature in this region is temperate, with cooler days and evenings. However, Caldera’s lower elevation means it will be notably warmer than the nearby town of Boquete.
Rain in this area is common during the rainy season (June to November). Showers frequently come and go with little to no warning. It rained on us three times while we were there!
It was magical feeling the cool rainwater on our faces while staying warm in the hot spring. But it wasn’t great for our belongings.
If you want to keep your stuff dry, pack a dry bag. There is a small area to put your belongings near a hut at the top of the hill, but you won’t be able to see your stuff while soaking. If you want to keep an extra eye on your belongings a dry bag will allow you to keep your things with you without risking them getting wet. (Although it’s worth mentioning theft isn’t a big concern in this area).
Since this activity will require walking on a sometimes muddy path and traversing down a short but rocky trail to the hot springs, wear a good pair of water shoes like Chacos. Of course, you want to pack or wear your bathing suit and have a towel with you. Don’t forget a change of clothes for after soaking.
Important safety tip: We were told by a local that jaguars like to hang out near rivers in the jungles of Chiriqui. In June of 2023, a jaguar attacked and killed a lone hiker (middle-aged man) in the middle of the day. For that reason, don’t venture off solo in the forests here. If you want to go off-path, it’s best to explore in groups of 2 or more.
There are no refreshments or services here. So bring any snacks or water you want for drinking. Whenever soaking in a hot spring it’s a good idea to drink lots of water. We love using LMNT hydration packs to keep our electrolytes up without adding tons of nasty ingredients or unnecessary sugars. You can add it to this reusable water bottle.
Get the gear here:
- Water shoes
- Dry bag
- Packable quick-dry towel
- Bathing suit (nudity is not permitted here)
- Reusable water bottle
- LMNT hydration packs
What to expect at Caldera Hot Springs near Boquete Panama
There are three natural hot springs to soak in at Caldera Hot Springs. Each pool is a naturally formed pool made from rocks. The three pools have different temperatures, all of which are heated by geothermal activity from the nearby Barú Volcano.
The pool temperatures at the time we were visiting (July 2023) were 38°C (100°F), 40°C (104°F), and 45°C (113°F). We stayed in the two “cooler” pools at the bottom of the property which were nestled in the jungle and a short walk hike from the Caldera River.
The setting at the pools was absolutely incredible! We saw a frog hanging by the pool along with several birds and heard so many cool jungle noises while soaking.
The waters are rich in minerals and sulfur (thankfully there was no odor from the sulfur). It is believed the waters have healing properties to them. Many locals come here regularly to help with ailments and injuries. We can’t personally speak to the healing benefits of the pools, but we can vouge for how relaxed you will feel after.
There truly is nothing better than relaxing in a tropical forest while hanging out in a natural hot spring.
The second hot spring we visited (40°C) was located just around the corner from the hut where you can keep your belongings. This pool had taller rock walls that intertwined with a tree. It was a completely different vibe than the other one we had been hanging out in.
We could see bubbles rising from the ground as hot sulfur escaped from the earth. We loved sitting under the canopy of the tree but we didn’t last long in the hot water.
Definitely take time to cool off in the Caldera River between dips. The water is chilly and the perfect counterbalance to the hot waters of the springs. Plus, the smooth rocks on the river and the lush tropical jungle that surrounds the riverside make the most picturesque view.
Reminder: Caldera Hot Springs is located on private property. The property owner has very graciously opened up these incredible pools for the public to enjoy. Follow his rules (bathing suits and/or clothing is required to soak) and no alcohol is permitted. Always leave no trace and please, leave it better than you found it.
During our three-hour visit, we only met one other family. We couldn’t believe we had this place virtually all to ourselves for the majority of the visit!
We absolutely loved our visit to Caldera Hot Springs and highly recommend this day trip for hot spring lovers or those looking for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
Let us know if this guide was helpful in your visit to Caldera Hot Springs in the comments below.
CHECK OUT MY OTHER BOQUETE PANAMA GUIDES
- A Complete Guide to Hiking The Lost Waterfalls Trail – A great hiking guide for one of the top hikes in Boquete.
- How To Take a Coffee Tour in Boquete, Panama (Complete Guide) – Great guide for coffee lovers who want to get to know the process of growing, processing, and roasting coffee more intimately.
- Your Guide to Hiking El Pianista Trail in Boquete, Panama – A great hiking guide if you want to venture into a cloud forest.
- 10 Must-Do Activities in Boquete, Panama – The perfect travel bucket list to help you plan your vacation to Boquete.