24 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN COCLE PROVINCE, PANAMA
It is hard for me to choose but I think Cocle is my favorite province in Panama. The hiking was really next level and we had some awesome adventures, far away from any tourists or crowds. It was raw, off the beaten path adventures. From epic waterfall hikes to sunrises spent on top of ridges, Cocle Province had it all! These are my favorite things to do in Cocle, Panama!
What to pack? You might want to check out my Panama Packing List to see what I think are the essentials for exploring this awesome country from the hikes to the waterfalls.
My travel insurance: One last thing before you get started! Have you got your travel insurance for Panama yet? You can Click Here to find out how I get the best deal on travel insurance, which insurance recommend using in Panama and why I never travel without it. *This blog post involves photos of my bike crash.
WHERE TO STAY IN COCLE, PANAMA
For one month, I stayed at Bodhi Hostel right in the center of El Valle de Anton. It was a great base for adventures in Cocle and many times we would go camping or on a road trip with a guide and return to El Valle de Anton afterward. Having a base was great.
Normally, that would be way too long in a hostel but this place has great vibes. Every morning starts with the free breakfast of fresh fruits and pancakes the staff cook for you as well as free coffee and tea. They also serve machine coffee and the best real-fruit smoothies at the bar.
The dorm room is large with lots of beds but the great part is it is set up in a way that you have privacy. A blind pulls across each bunk bed so you can shut it all out if you want a break. There are also lockers so you can keep your stuff safe during the day when you are hiking. I think the other great part about Bodhi Hostel is that because it is in a small town with no nightclubs, the vibe is chill and the nights are quiet. Everyone is going to sleep early to wake up for sunrise hikes so it has this real adventurous vibe with everyone in a positive mood, ready to enjoy nature. Bodhi Hostel also offers a number of private rooms, which are basic but definitely a comfortable option for couples or those who prefer a bit more privacy than the dorm.
The staff at Bodhi Hostel are always up for a chat and you can tell they are proud of El Valle de Anton. Every new guest that checks in gets the full speech about all of the cool things to do in El Valle de Anton. They receive a map and lots of suggestions. I don’t promote too many accommodations but the staff at Bodhi Hostel and the awesome memories I have of El Valle de Anton have all centered around the hostel and the nearby adventures.
If you would like something a step up from Bodhi Hostel there are two hotels that I personally visited and am happy to recommend.
The Golden Frog Inn and Caracoral Boutique Hotel & Spa were both beautiful hotels and if you have a little bit more to spend they would be a great place to relax after some seriously good adventuring in El Valle de Anton. I didn’t stay at either but toured both properties throughout the month randomly and Caracoral Boutique Hotel & Spa, in particular, was a beautiful boutique property that would be my number one choice for a luxurious getaway in the valley.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN COCLE PROVINCE, PANAMA
LA INDIA DORMIDA ‘THE SLEEPING INDIAN’ HIKE
La India Dormida hike is one of the most popular sunrise viewpoints in all of Anton Valley. The hike only takes about 45 minutes to summit from the town, making it a perfect way to start your morning. The loop trail takes you along the edge of the beautiful mountains of the crater, which resemble the body of a sleeping person. This is where the hike gets its name and we will delve into the Legend of the Sleeping Indian in this blog post as well as everything you need to know about hiking La India Dormida to enjoy an epic sunrise.
Legend has it that Luba, known as ‘Airflower’, was the youngest daughter of heralded Chief Urraca. Urraca was the leader of one of the many Guaymi Tribes in Anton Crater. Luba was a rebellious girl and despite her tribes fighting with the Spanish for years, she fell in love with a Spanish official who lived in the town. Yaravi was a brave warrior from the tribe who loved Luba but she didn’t love him back. Yaravi couldn’t handle this and took his own life, throwing himself off of a mountain while Luba stared in a perplexed fashion. Luba didn’t want to betray her town and in a desperate panic of crying and mourning she loses herself in the bushes and dies
Need more information? Full blog post: HIKING LA INDIA DORMIDA FOR SUNRISE
CERRO CARA IGUANA
My first hike in Cocle was a short, sweet and eventually very wet trek to the summit of Cerra Cara Iguana. Anton Valley is actually a giant volcanic crater. It is said to be the only volcanic crater, which is inhabited. It’s pretty crazy to think that at some stage a key-decision maker decided that the best place to set up camp was inside a volcanic crater.
What you have now is a beautiful town surrounded by epic mountains. In short, the Anton Valley unintentionally placed itself as a future adventure tourism destination. Cerro Cara Iguana gives you a great view of this crater. The ridge of Cerro Cara Iguana extends out towards the middle of the crater, more than any other point and it was great to do this hike early in my stay in Anton Valley. It gives you a great idea of the layout of the town.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO CARA IGUANA HIKE
Often labeled as ‘The toughest hike in Panama’, Cerro Gaital hike will definitely challenge you while making your way up to the epic viewpoint.
Cerro Gaital leads you through a tunnel of the dense forest before hitting you with intense vertical rock-climbs into the foggy summit. The hike takes less than three hours depending on how long you spend at the top. It is possible to walk to the trailhead from Anton Valley Town or you can catch a bus to the trailhead for $1.
From the top of Cerro Gaital, you have views over the whole valley and beyond. I sat atop the small cement hut eating my lunch enjoying yet another empty mountain in El Valle de Anton!
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO GAITAL HIKE
CERRO LA GAITA
Although it is not directly in El Valle de Anton, Cerro La Gaita is only a short drive or even a bus trip away from the town center. This makes it one of the best things to do in El Valle de Anton or at least nearby.
Every mountain in Anton Valley seems to surround you as you emerged from the jungle to rise above the canopy on a wooden platform. For an hour you trek up the slippery path and then the stairs that pierced through the dense jungle. You will reach the summit of Cerro La Gaita and the view over Cerro Picacho and San Carlos Lake was is beautiful.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA GAITA HIKE
POZO AZUL WATERFALL CANYON
In what seems to be the middle of a quiet farmland region is one of the wonders of Panama. A lot of places around the world get hyped up but surprisingly Pozo Azul was spoken of as a nice spot but I didn’t expect to encounter such an epic location. In the depths of the jungle, a series of waterfalls flow down from one level to the next into crystal clear azure pools. Rock climbing, cliff jumping and the ultimate waterhole await you at Pozo Azul in Cocle, Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: POZO AZUL WATERFALLS
HOT SPRINGS (POZOS TERMALES)
The hot springs are an interesting one. I saw many people come into the hostel and the first thing they wanted to see was Pozos Termales. This is good for a rainy day but don’t pick it over anything else on the list. It is more a man-made spring that is a fun afternoon rather than a beautiful natural hot spring. Nevertheless, it is a great place to enjoy with some apparently great health benefits!
CHORRO EL MACHO
Chorro El Macho is the most popular waterfall in El Valle de Anton. It is a 35m high waterfall and one of the few easily accessible in the region. Many visitors to El Valle will visit the waterfall and do a hike all in one day. It wasn’t even in the top 20 of the waterfalls I visited in Panama for natural beauty but I was there for 100 days, so my standards were high. It is a good little adventure but don’t expect Niagara.
CERRO LA SILLA
Cerro La Silla is a short journey to an epic viewpoint atop the mountains to watch the sun rise over the horizon with views of Valle de Anton and beyond! It’s interesting that Cerro Cara Iguana and India Dormida hike are the most suggested but you don’t hear a lot about Cerro La Silla. Having experienced all three I would say it is hard to separate them all but La Silla possibly has the best views.
Just before the sun was about to break over the horizon we made it to the summit where we sat down beneath the giant cross, which seems to be common at viewpoints in Valle de Anton. We could see all the way back into the crater of Valle de Anton but also out to Cerro Picacho.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO LA SILLA ‘THE ARMCHAIR’ SUNRISE HIKE
SEE THE NATIONAL FLOWER OF PANAMA AT LA ORQUIDERIA
Normally, I wouldn’t suggest orchards in an adventure blog. But the national flower of Panama is very unique. It almost looks fake. At La Orquideria, they have lots of interesting plants but if you are lucky they will have the national flower on display. It looks like a dove is blooming from within the flower. Definitely check it out if you have a spare moment between the hikes! It is a non-profit run by organization Aprovaca who helped us run our Adventure Bag clean-up. They are great people and I believe the entrance fee is only $1-2.
CERRO PICACHO IN SAN CARLOS
Overlooking San Carlos Laguna, the Cerro Picacho hike in San Carlos (West Panama) is one of the best viewpoints in the region. It is a steady incline through the dense forest, which leads you over roots, through muddy paths, and underneath a beautiful canopy. The tropical conditions mean that as per usual you will be sweating, hot and searching for air when you reach the summit.
There are two viewpoints to Cerro Picacho in San Carlos. The first is a really cool boulder that sticks out of the trail and gives a great vantage point of the lake and the other peak. The other peak is incredibly steep although I have seen a video of someone sitting on top of it. From the boulder lookout, we could see other hikes like Cerro La Gaita platform. It is a great spot to check out the other mountains in the area.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO PICACHO HIKE IN SAN CARLOS
CERRO TUREGA HIKE
Cerro Turega is an epic trail that leads you past waterfalls before up an intense incline to reach the three peaks at the summit with panoramic views! The hike is only a 6km trail. However, the hike is regularly touted as a 4-hour journey and this is because the terrain is incredibly steep and slippery making it very slow going.
There are three epic peaks but as far as I know, you can only reach the first where you can see us standing in the photos. They are very steep and I would be surprised if peak two and three are accessible. The views are beautiful and we got a few glimpses amidst the fog and stormy clouds.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO TUREGA ‘THREE PEAKS’ HIKE
ISLA FARALLON DAY TRIP
Isla Farallon is a unique island off the coast off Farallon on the southern coast of Panama, only a couple of hours drive from Panama City. We ventured down on three buses from Valle de Anton in about an hour and enjoyed a day of soaking up the sun, exploring Isla Farallon and beach volleyball on Farallon Beach. This is a family-friendly beach with nothing but chill vibes, sun, and salt!
It only took us just over an hour to reach Farallon Beach from El Valle on two buses. Farallon Island only takes another fifteen-minute boat trip from there. I thought it would be handy in this guide as sometimes in El Valle de Anton, you forget what the beach looks like when you go on daily hikes!
Need more information? Full blog post: ISLA FARALLON AND FARALLON BEACH
AGUILA FALLS AND CANYON
Aguila Waterfalls is one of those locations that takes you into another world. I found myself wading through knee-deep in crystal clear blue water while staring up at huge walls of ferns and vines as sunlight crept in through the canopy, lighting up the canyon. This is an Indiana Jones type of adventure.
Need more information? Full blog post: AGUILA WATERFALLS AND CANYON
CERRO TRINIDAD HIKE
Cerro Trinidad is a steep hike through the jungle to an epic viewpoint out over Capiro. It isn’t very popular and subsequently, the trail is quite rough and very steep in some parts. A guide is highly suggested and hikers not in good physical condition may decide to give this hike a miss due to the incline.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO TRINIDAD HIKE IN EL CACAO
CERRO CHAME SUNRISE HIKE
Cerro Chame is a collection of ridges and rolling hills overlooking the region of Chame. The hike takes just over an hour until you reach the cross at the summit, although you can continue on much further along the ridges, which makes it a much longer hike.
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO CHAME SUNRISE HIKE
30KM TIFE WATERFALL TREK
A journey of 30km with over 2000-meters of incline through the forest of Omar Torrijos National Park to reach the epic Tife Waterfall in Panama. It isn’t for the faint-hearted but it is an incredible experience and off the beaten path to say the least! If you are game the adventure to Tife Waterfall challenges you!
Need more information? Full blog post: 30KM TREK TO TIFE WATERFALL
Filipinas waterfalls is a series of five different waterfalls easily accessible along a short, but interesting trail that leads you through the jungle to each spot!
The fifth and final waterfall is a double-tiered beauty. At the end of a short but narrow canyon, a slim waterfall shoots down into a little pool of blue water. It is possible to climb up the left side but it is very slippery and can be quite dangerous. However, if you do make it to the top the view is beautiful!
Need more information? Full blog post: FILIPINAS WATERFALLS IN SORA
NATIVA WATERFALL IN SORA
Nativa Waterfall is an amazing wall of water like nothing else in Panama! It’s a really unique waterfall as it is a rounded wall that pours into a tiny little pool and then shoots off sideways down the river
This huge water wall was one of my favorite waterfalls in Panama because it is just so different from the regular style of a waterfall. It’s deep enough to swim in the pool below, even though it is only a 3-meter wide pool!
Need more information? Full blog post: NATIVA WATERFALL IN SORA
LOS VALLES WATERFALL CLIFF JUMP
Los Valles Waterfall cliff jump is by far one of my favorite places to hang out in all of Panama. Taking in the sun while laying on the rocks in between massive cliff jumps is heaven on earth for me!
The biggest cliff jump is 15m and other spots are possible to jump from throughout the watering hole. The biggest factor to point out that this is not an easy place to cliff jump. In fact, the day I was there a guy almost died. He cracked open his head and broke his arm as he slipped and fell down the rock wall. The biggest issue is that on almost all of the jumps you need to clear some rocks on the wall below. It’s not hard but as we saw, mistakes happen and the rock wall is unforgiving. Especially on the big 15-meter jump, you need to run and really push off to reach the middle of the pool below. It is dangerous if you are scared and only do a small jump or back out halfway. Don’t take this place lightly.
Need more information? Full blog post: LOS VALLES WATERFALL: THE BEST CLIFF JUMP IN PANAMA
The waterfalls of Ola are a spectacle that could be argued to be among the best series of waterfalls in Panama. Two huge waterfalls are accompanied by many smaller cascades and watering holes, which on clear days boast beautiful blue waters.
The main waterfall was a sight to behold. It was aggressive and the pool it flowed down into was a scene of carnage. Huge rocks were littered everywhere from previous falls most likely and the water smashed down onto one of the rocks spraying up with pure force.
Need more information? Full blog post: THE AMAZING WATERFALLS OF OLA
CERRO PICACHO SUNRISE HIKE IN OLA
Sitting in the long grass on top of Cerro Picacho in Ola, we slowly watched the illumination of the epic ridges all around us until we had become ants amidst a golden glow in what is one of the most beautiful viewpoints in Panama.
The sun rises directly in front of you lighting up the valley, which is littered with other epic mountains. Fog circled many of the bigger mountains and in combination with the layers of mountains, the view was incredible. However, the real view is right beneath you as the ridges of Cerro Picacho slowly take light and you can see the sharp ridges in all of their glory. It reminded me a lot of Kauai and the Na Pali coastline with the severity of the drop-off and the sharpness of the ridges.
Because of these sharp ridges, Cerro Picacho hike in Ola became one of my favorite hikes in Panama. It was only short but the view was just breath-taking. It is like nothing you ever expected from Panama. I think this morning is one of my favorites photography wise as well.
Manglarito Waterfall in Chame begins with an insane canyon drop, which flows down into an amphitheater with the main waterfall. Both of the waterfalls are beautiful and this jungle atmosphere is one of my favorites in Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: MANGLARITO WATERFALL IN CHAME
LOS CAJONES DE CHAME
Hidden in the depths of Chame is a masterpiece from mother nature. Los Cajones de Chame (The draws of Chame) is one of the most unique land formations in Panama. Only 90 minutes from Panama City, it is one of the most remarkable and popular spots to visit in Panama.
Need more information? Full blog post: LOS CAJONES DE CHAME IN PANAMA
CERRO DE LA CRUZ SUNRISE HIKE
We waited in the cold, curled up behind boulders atop Cerro De La Cruz with the almighty cross the towering above us. It had been an early wake-up call at 2 am and we were now patiently shivering our way towards a beautiful sunrise in the Campana National Park on the Cerro De La Cruz viewpoint hike. After patiently waiting for an hour, the sun finally started to break its way through and we started to see how beautiful the view was with the sun streaming into the valley and up onto the mountain.
This viewpoint, which is at 905 meters of altitude, was one of my favorite lookouts in Panama. Standing beneath the cross with such an epic drop below us was an insane way to start the day!
Need more information? Full blog post: CERRO DE LA CRUZ HIKE IN ALTOS DE CAMPANA NATIONAL PARK
I hope you enjoyed this guide to one of my favorite places in the world. With all of these epic things to do in Cocle Province, you definitely need to spend a couple of weeks to totally enjoy the whole region and everything it has to offer!
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