Posted by: luisabaldwin | January 15, 2011





The hotel at Los Molinos

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

La Casa Del Risco Boutique Hotel at Los Molinos


Cell: 6676-0653

Finally, the sun was out and the sky was blue.  We had forgotten what that was like for Boquete experienced a staggering 284 inches of rain this season!  Now I just want to let you know that is just about double the norm.  But it was enough to get some of the “testing Panama living” crowd to make plane reservations back to the U.S.  We, however, lasted it out and decided that this was a perfect day for a little excursion.  For a year and a half each time we drove down the volcano to David, we passed a gated community called Los Molinos which was set in way off the main road.  Each time we wanted to take a spin and check it out but the errand list was always too long.  The people that we had encountered who lived there loved it.  Los Molinos has a very good reputation.

The guard house – and they do a pretty good job at it

This quiet, exclusive, and private gated community is a 20-minute drive down the volcano from Boquete towards David.  As far as gated communities go, this one is right up there.  There is one other gated community that can boast more amenities and the next level up in house pricing.  It is called Valle Escondido.  One of these days, I’ll feature this community on my site.  But back to Los Molinos.  This location is great as it is 30 minutes from David so it’s half way in between David, where you would run your errands and seek out services, and the little town of Boquete.  At 2,400 feet, Molinos has a wonderful year-round climate.  Generally speaking, it’s about 10 degrees warmer than Boquete, gets less rain, and is less humid.

Los Molinos Houses Clustered Around the Pond

A Beautiful Molinos Home on the Pond

The development is 202 acres and it’s western border buttresses up to the foot of the Cochea River Canyon, which is an impressive canyon with several waterfalls and the Cochea River meandering through the bottom of the canyon.

The Waterfall in the Cochea River Canyon

This canyon is 360 feet deep and Hacienda Los Molinos offers a walking trail to get down into the canyon.  Think of a 40-story building and that’s how deep this impressive canyon is.  It is enormous and very dramatic.

Cochea River Canyon

It’s a little like a miniature tropical version of the Grand Canyon.  You can sit mesmerized, gazing at the breathtaking views.

Along the ridge of the canyon, the development has built a little hotel, restaurant, clubhouse, and pool.  The architecture of the hotel building is lovely and the surrounding gardens are beautifully landscaped.  A relaxed comfortable veranda wraps around the hotel for dining al fresco and lounging.  It all felt so civilized!  We decided to try out the restaurant and were surprised to enjoy a very nice breakfast.

La Casa del Risco Boutique Hotel Lobby

I hate to say it but feel I have to, most restaurants in Panama disappoint.  It’s always something – the food or the service.  Often there are long waits and then the food doesn’t get served at once so half the table has finished by the time the other half is served.  There are a few good ones and I’ll tell you about them at a later date, but this restaurant at Los Molinos didn’t disappoint when it came to breakfast.  We’ll have to give you an update when we visit the dining room for lunch and dinner.  The service was very friendly, all the food came out on time, we didn’t have to wait a long time for our meals, the food was hot, and it was pretty good.

La Casa del Risco Boutique Hotel Dining Room

We sat at the head of the canyon with our coffee, admiring the view and the charming sounds of the River Cochea.  It was very relaxing.

The Hotel and Restaurant at Los Molinos

“Hmmm, I could get used to this!” I said with a smile.  “I like it here.” I added, a little surprised at my comment for I’ve always had somewhat of an aversion to gated communities and neighborhood living.  I’m just a simple country girl and I love living in the country.

We decided to take a little drive through the community and were delighted to find some lovely ponds surrounded by fichus trees and landscaping.  Those ponds are stocked with fish, I am told.

One of the ponds at Los Molinos

Many of the well-built homes had interesting architecture and a lot of stone was incorporated into the houses for added interest.  Most of these houses had lovely views of the Baru Volcano.

Hacienda Molinos has built a Bacci Ball court and a club seems to have sprouted out of  it.  Residents enjoy getting to know each other on the Friday night cocktail hour at the clubhouse.

The Clubhouse at Los Molinos where every Friday they have a cocktail social hour

This is popular enough that people from Boquete come to socialize.  The development has special events and a lot of people come to get married at the hotel.

One of the Lovely Homes of Los Molinos

The Gardens

Panamanians book up the rooms on holidays and the association has special events like huge firework displays on Mother’s Day, a major holiday in Panama. There are hiking trails, bird watching walks, and fishing expeditions.

Best of all, we were told that the residents in this community were diverse, consisting of professional Panamanians, Europeans, South Americans, and Americans of every age.  Some are retired but the homeowners in this community are of all ages.

The Pool

We were delighted to discover this little gem of a housing development and could easily recommend it to anybody who would be interested in living there.  It is safe and if you travel a lot, a gated community is a good idea.  A little excursion to explore the neighborhoods produced an unexpected gem of a discovery!

Another Home in Los Molinos

The Condos of Los Molinos Overlooking the Canyon - Staggering Views!



  1. I don’t really have a comment. I would like to get some information on the elevation of the different areas in Ecuador. I have some breathing issues and am concerned that the Cuenca area altitude would be too high for me. Can someone help me with this?I have been googling for some time now and haven’t gotten the information that I seek.
    I have a feeling that I didn’t post where I should have but if anyone can help, please feel free to send the info to my addy.

    • Hi Terry,
      Ecuador elevation goes from sea level to 10,000 feet. Cotacachi, if I remember correctly is around 8,000 feet elevation and so yes, breathing problems would be challenged at that elevation. But there’s the whole coast line to choose from! And there’s an ex-pat community near Loja down south. It’s at around 5,000 ft. elevation (That’s about the same elevation as Denver). Hope that helps.

  2. Hello I am coming to visit Boquete and need a nice but cheap hostel or room to rent for 10 days can you help?

    • Hello Violet,

      Here’s my recommendation for you:

      Hostal Refugio del Río: a Low Budget Option to Rest & Relax

      Known in town as the “luxurious” hostel for backpackers, our students are always surprised to discover that such a beautiful house has been transformed into a hostel. This place will make you feel instantly at home. It’s only 2 blocks away from the town center yet feels like it’s miles away nestled in a quiet street along a peaceful stream.

      This “refuge by the river” has been carefully furnished and decorated and has 1 private cabin and 9 bedrooms (1 dorm room, 2 private rooms that share a bathroom, and 6 private rooms with their own bathroom). Each room is bright and welcoming.

      The communal areas are the best amongst the low budget hostels in Boquete. The kitchen is very large indeed and is fully equipped. We even have had students who do not like to cook who feel tempted to prepare their own meal when they find themselves in such a magnificent kitchen within the hostel. The laundry facilities are also very spacious with brand new appliances and the wooden furniture found in the dining room give it an intimate touch that will make you feel just at home. A TV and DVD are also available in a cozy living room to watch some good movies. And last but not least, this hostel has gorgeous terraza with chimney, a stereo system and bar, which if you stay here you will certainly spend many hours resting, chilling out and relaxing while you overlook the peaceful creek and green yard full of trees.

      The largest bedroom is a dorm room that can accommodate up to 10 guests (mixture of bunk beds and single beds). Two of the private rooms (Quetzal 1 and 2), which share a bathroom, have a bunk bed with a double bed on the bottom and a single bed on the top. One of these rooms has a single bed and the other has 2 single beds. Refugio del Rio also has two private rooms with their own bathroom and private garden terrace (Abril and Nicole). Both of these rooms have 1 double bed. And the remaining 4 private rooms also have their own bathroom. Of these last 4 rooms, one has a double bed and 2 single beds (Colibrí), another one has a double sized bed (Golondrina), and the reamining two rooms known as “Las Casitas” share a semi-private kitchen amongst them and have bunk beds with double beds on the bottom and single beds on the top.

      Along the river and overlooking our garden terrace Refugio del Rio features one complete tree-house style elevated cabana, in addition to two rooms with beautiful balconies, free Wi-Fi, cable TV and grounds views. The bathrooms are private and come equipped with a hot shower. These cozy structures are separate from the main hostel and are elevated above the ground and made of wood to create cozy treehouse-like lodging. Each cabin has a double sized bed, with its own bathroom and a small private balcony.

      To get to Hostal Refugio del Río, on Central Avenue, turn right on the road between the Delta Gas Station and Los Establos Plaza (where Habla Ya Spanish School is located) walk pass Los Establos Plaza, cross the bridge over the creek, take a right and a little bit further ahead you will see Hostal Refugio del Río on you right.
      Hostal Refugio del Rio Rates

      (I don’t know how current these rates are but well, you get the picture)

      Rates per night
      Bed in Dorm Room $13
      Private Room with Shared Bathroom $31
      Golondrina, Casita 1 and Casita 2 $36
      Abril and Nicole $36
      Colibrí, Private Cabin $36
      Ruiseñor 1 and 2 $38

      Note: rates are based on single or double occupancy (each additional person per room is $11 per night). Rates do not include Panama’s 10% Hotel Tax. Laundry service is available at $5 for wash and dry. At check-in, a $5 deposit is requested for use of towels and a $2 deposit for your room key. Your deposit will be returned to you when you return these items at checkout.


      Hostal Refugio del Río was selected amongst the best places to stay in Boquete within the low price range because it is really amazing how such a nicely furnished and comfortable hostel is priced as a low budget hostel.

      Pension Topas: a Relaxed Quiet Setting just out of Town but still Close Enough

      Pension Topas is a family owned budget hostal conveniently located just out of the center of town, allowing you to enjoy a quiet and relaxed environment but still be within a 5 minute walk to downtown Boquete and Habla Ya Spanish School.

      Once you walk through the main entrance of this hostel, you start feeling the peace and serenity that comes from a well kept garden in Boquete. The hosts at Pension Topas are the Schoeb family from Germany. Having been in Boquete for so many years they have a handful of tips about what to do, and their natural efficiency doesn’t hurt anybody’s stay in terms of having everything well mantained, clean and in working order.

      This hostel has a total of 7 private bedrooms. The rooms are basic but clean, ample enough and nicely decorated with a retro european feel. 5 of the rooms have their own private bathrooms with hot water and can accommodate up to 4 guests each. The other 2 bedrooms share a bathroom beween the both of them.

      In the outdoor area, there is also a small swimming pool for you to enjoy the sunny days of Boquete, and a nice terrace for guests to have a cup of coffee, eat breakfast (at an extra cost), or simply check your emails thanks to their wifi internet connection. Each morning by the river side garden you can enjoy a complementary cup of coffee to help start your day off.


      To reach Pension Topas: from main street, walk across the Central Park in direction of “El Municipio”, then turn right, and keep walking straight past the police station, cross the block, then walk pass the “Machu Pichu” restaurant, pass another block and walk until you see the colorful sign of Pension Topas. The entrance will be on the left side of the street.

      Pensión Topas Rates (Again, I don’t know how current these rates are but they’re going to be in your price range.)

      Single Occupancy
      Double Occupancy
      Triple Occupancy
      Quadruple Occupancy
      Private rooms shared bathroom $14 $22
      Private rooms with private bathrooms $25/$29 $38

      Note: rates ALREADY INCLUDE Panama’s 10% Hotel Tax.


      Pension Topas completes our list of hostels within a low budget range. We chose this hostel because it is located very close to the town center but far enough to feel out of it. In our opinion you receive more than what you pay for if you consider its spacious rooms and beautiful garden area in the back of the hostel.

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