Find the best locations in Central America to visit on your next vacation.
Central America is home to one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Untouched rain forests and beaches in its seven countries make for the most incredible biology lesson of your life.
It is a paradise where active volcanoes can be a stones-throw from some of the most breathtaking, remote beaches, and where coffee plantations are tucked away in the clouds. Sun yourself with a margarita in hand on the white sand beaches of Playa del Carmen, explore Mayan ruins in Tulum (you might want to head to the beach there, too!), enjoy a car-free paradise on Caye Caulker, or visit the remote fishing village of Santa Catalina whose natural beauty has gone relatively untouched.
Explore our top 10 destinations in Central America.
With the world’s second longest barrier reef, Belize is a dream for divers and snorkelers. Stingrays and nurse sharks congregate in Shark-Ray Alley, while Gladden Spit is renowned for whale sharks. Float amid coral gardens at a trio of atolls, ply the depths of the Blue Hole, and splash below waterfalls at Rio on Pools. Back on dry land, you can hit the trails of Rio Bravo Conservation Area and Cockscomb Basin Forest Reserve, where jaguars roam.
Manatee River consists of two parts in Belize. One is on the western side of the Southern Lagoon and the other is on the Eastern side by the Caribbean Sea. There are beautiful beaches on both sides of the river’s mouth where various types of sea turtles nest. Although this is a very remote part of the country, cruise ports are located nearby with some amazing excursions to this area of the world.
To find the best Costa Rica has to offer, just look up. Toucans paint the trees of Cahuita National Park, mischievous howler monkeys frolic in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, and suspension bridges dangle in Arenal Volcano National Park. After exploring the Caribbean beaches for green sea turtles at Tortuguero National Park, lie back at one of the country’s famous surf breaks and enjoy “pura vida”.
Stretching along the Caribbean Coastline, this region is considered to be one of the most pristine and lush areas of Costa Rica. With about 125 miles of shoreline between Nicaragua and Panama, this destination has scenic white-sand beaches lined with coconut trees creating an ultimate tropical paradise. As one of Costa Rica’s most geographically diverse regions, Limon features remote mangrove wetlands to soaring mountains. Again, cruises and tours highlight the region in spectacular form.
Tourism is blooming along El Salvador’s Ruta de las Floras, a 22-mile route that meanders past coffee plantations, a famed weekend food market in Juayua and authentic local handicrafts in Ataco and Salcoatitan. On the Balsamo Coast, bask on black sand beaches or hang ten in the surf. Tune in to nature at Parque Nacional El Imposible, rife with waterfalls and swimming holes, and Bahia de Jiquilisco, with its bay beaches and nesting sea turtles.
Experience the thrill of climbing an active volcano like Santa Maria or Pacaya, and explore the volcanic mountain caves of Languin, Candelaria or Kan’Ba. Relax with a cruise on Lake Atitlan, an azure gem cradled by an extinct crater, or soak in the sight of cascading waterfalls at Los Siete Altares and Semuc Champey. Brave the rapids on the Cahabon River, and step back to Mayan times in ancient ruined cities like Tikal, Yaxha, and Quirigua.
Honduras is the second-biggest country in Central America housing colonial villages, ancient Maya ruins and beautiful natural parks. Both to the East and West boast Pacific and Caribbean coastlines with great beaches and coral reefs where snorkeling and diving are exceptional by any standard. Although luxury hotels are rare, the developing destination is becoming a hotspot for dive trips and culturally oriented vacations.
With 24 volcanoes and countless lakes, rivers, and lagoons, Nicaragua is known as the “Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” Only in Nicaragua can you navigate through rivers and lakes all the way from the Caribbean to the Pacific. This region has a tremendous ecological diversity offering more than 70 unique eco-systems. Along with the beautiful landscapes, many religious celebrations take place throughout the country. These events are often joyous celebrations that attract large crowds with dance and music. Each city and town has an official Saint which are honored with gifts in exchange for blessings. A few beautiful resorts capture the essence of Nicaragua but you can also find comfort on the many cruise lines that dock here.
The Panama Canal was completed in 1914 but that is only one reason it's considered a feat of engineering prowess. It is a must-see when visiting Panama, but Comarca de Guna Yala beach and Bocas del Toro beach are amazing locales as well. In this growing region, the culinary scene is exploding! Ropa vieja, arroz con pollo, empanadas, and seafood stew are among some of the local food favorites but fine dining restaurants are growing across the nation.
This cosmopolitan city is a fascinating tourist destination in itself. It is also an inquisitive blend of old Spain, modern America along with the marketplace atmosphere of the East. Best known for the Panama Canal, this lively Latin American city also borders one of Central America’s iconic rain forests. This is also one of the safest cities in the Americas. There are three areas of Panama City to be discovered: the historical ruins of the 16th century Panama Viejo, the 17th century Spanish Colonial Casco Viejo and the modern skyscraper area with its business district and a city center full of cultural delights.
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