It’s incredible how much can be packedin so relatively small a territory. World’s best diving spots,pristine beaches, ancient Mayan temples buried in thick jungle vines,wildlife at your fingertips, and multicolored colonial townsspreading at the foot of ominous volcanoes – that’s Central Americain a nutshell. Let’s have a look at some of the most amazing sightsto behold on a trip along this narrow strip of land joining North andSouth Americas.
Sandwiched between thick jungles and the Caribbean Sea, Belize is a mecca for both beach bums and adventurous souls. Encounters with wild animals and creepy treks to the cobwebbed Mayan sites will appeal to fearless explorers, while the less intrepid ones will find delight at palm-dotted shores and in the splendor of the underwater world.
Around a quarter of a mile (0.4km) across and 480 feet (145 m) deep, the hypnotizing Great Blue Holeis one of the most astounding dive sites in the world.
Make sure you don’t miss Caracol. Hidden in a high-canopy forest, thislargest known Mayan site in Belize covers around 30 square miles andmakes for a truly unforgettable trek into the heart of mystery.
Sun-kissed and laidback Placencia isthe best place to stretch your hammock, sip ice-cold drinks, frolicin the azure waters and get a taste of Belizean village life.
26 national parks on an area of less that 20,000 square miles (51,000 sq km) say it all. Costa Rica is a place to go if you crave close rapport with nature in all its variety. Divine coves, creepy jungles, smoldering volcanoes, crater lakes, rambling waterfalls and exuberant wildlife explain all too well why the country is called “Rich Coast”.
The youngest volcano in Costa Rica isat the same time one of the most active and threatening ones in theworld. Silent for hundreds of years, Arenal erupted violently in 1968and destroyed the small town of Tabacón. Yet in its power restsirresistible beauty … to be best admired from a distance.
Located on the wild Osa Peninsula, Corcovado National Park belongs to one of the most biologically versatile places on Earth, with fantastic rock formations, pristine beaches, majestic waterfalls and thick rainforest teeming with more than 600 animal species.
Tiny but definitely worth visiting, Manuel Antonio National Park preserves a series of charming beaches fringed by an evergreen forest. Just dig your feet into the warm, snow-white sand and watch dolphins playing in the azure waters.
Small, plagued with cataclysms, andquite ill reputed when it comes to safety, El Salvador may not havethe best PR, but beyond the screamy headlines (often exaggerated infact), there lies a country full of raw beauty, colonial ambiance,unmatchable surfing opportunities, fabulous art and the warmest ofhearts.
Surrounded by green pinegroves and coffee plantations, the little town of Perquin is home to the Museum of the Revolution, which tells the stories of El Salvador’s civil war era.
Thanksto El Sunzal and a couple of other fabulous beaches, El Salvador isslowly transforming into the surf capital of the world.
It’s a pretty good workout to climb up, but the view you can get through the famed Devil’s Door over the extensive countryside is worth every sweat drop on your forehead.
Guatemala is a place that caters to alltastes. If you want to make it rough, days long treks to ancient Mayasites abound. If you don’t feel like parting with luxury, top-notchhotels line the fabulous coast. On the one hand, the country istotally immersed in the pre-Columbian history, and on the other, it’ssuccessfully trying to catch up with modern standards.
Take in the perfectly preserved colonial architecture and authentic flair in one of Guatemala’s loveliest cities. Don’t forget two snap a picture of Antigua‘s most recognizable landmark: the majestic Volcan de Agua that appears in a delightfully orange framing of the equally famed Santa Catalina archway as you’re looking south through it.
Set off on a trek of a lifetime, makeyour way through jungle vines and stay in primitive bamboo huts to beeventually rewarded with the amazing experience of the wondrousTikal, one of the greatest urban achievements of the pre-ColumbianMaya civilization.
Lake Atitlan is the jewel ofGuatemala’s highlands. It is here that you find the Maya culture atits liveliest. About a dozen of tiny villages are scattered in theastounding landscape of monumental volcanoes and calm, sparklingwaters that reflect the towering shapes.
Although its share of turquoise waters,ancient ruins, green slopes and untraversed jungles is sufficient areason to pick Honduras for a vacation, the true measure of itsawesomeness is in fact the people who call it home. A trip through this rather overlooked spot in Central America is virtually an experience of fabulous artistic expression,inspiring folklore, simplicity of life and the kindest of hearts.
Dolphins frolicking in secret bays, howler monkeys dangling from mossy branches, and the Garifuna village of Miami built directly on the beach make a visit to charming Punta Sal National Park an thrilling natural and cultural experience.
If you love all sorts of water-related activities and don’t mind crowds of holidaymakers, Roatan will truly make your day. With some of the most gorgeous white beaches and the best diving spots in all of Central America and the Caribbean, no wonder it has turned into a tourist magnet.
Unbelievable artistic heritage is to befound in the ruins of Copan, one of the preserved centers of Mayacivilization and a major tourist attraction in Honduras. Giganticface sculptures are the major highlight here.
Poor tourist infrastructure andunstable political situation don’t make Nicaragua a likely holidaypick. But if you’re ready to look beyond the headlines and do withouteven basic comforts, the country will enchant you with its raw beautyand make you dizzy with the opportunities for extreme experiences.Swimming in a crater lake, climbing an active volcano and diving withsharks are only a handful of options to test your nerves. And if thatsounds too adventurous, there are a number of spots to wind down andtake in the authentic quality of Nicaraguan seaside life.
Rising from sparkling Lake Nicaraguaand forming Ometepe Island with a twin cone Maderas, VolcánConcepción has been frequently erupting since 1883. Thebest part is that you can climb it, although it takes a lot ofstamina to complete it.
Nicaragua has its own spot of paradise as well … or two spots to be exact. Once a haven for pirates and buccaneers, today the Little and Big Corn Islands pamper the senses of adventurous visitors with exotic smells, turquoise waters, delicate sand, splendid diving, and fabulously simple hospitality. And all this for less than a song.
21 volcanic cones, of which 5 remain active, make the awesome crown of Nicaragua – Cordillera de Maribios. Climb a few of the country’s fire mountains on a single trek and your life will erupt in a totally new quality.
Of all the extreme experiences you mayhave in Central America, Panama provides for a good share of the most spine-tinglingones. The roughest of rainforests, frequent guerrilla fights anddeadly animals scare away comfort-seeking tourists and leave groundfor the most adventurous ones. Of course, if you wish to go but steerclear of dangers, Panama has plenty to offer. Friendly nationalparks, lush hills to trek and adorable islands, to mention just afew, are perfect representations of the country as well.
The Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro maybe Panama’s main tourist magnet, but it somehow still manages toresist the temptation for growth and remains quite authentic. Anyway,if crystal clear waters, swaying palms and idyllic atmosphere areyour things, Bosas del Toro is the right place to head to while inPanama.
The fact that the 38 islands of CoibaNational Park have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site speaksvolumes of how amazing the place really is. Both the forests andadjacent waters are teeming with life, making Coiba a haven forexplorers, bird watchers and divers.
Another world heritage site of Panama, Darien National Park is a harsh but magical realm of remarkable wildlife, a staggering variety of flora and indigenous tribes, who will be happy to show you into the reality of life in the heart of the jungle.
So, where are you heading first?