Best 5 Travel Destinations in Central America

Central America may be one of the smallest regions in the world but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in charm and character! Central America is for the most part pretty laid back and offers ample opportunities for fun activities such as zip lining, surfing, water sports, jungle hikes and archaeological tours.

As far as places to visit, Granada, Volcan Baru (highest peak in Panama), Tikal, Arenal Volcano and Roatan are probably  Central America's most popular tourist destinations. Having said this, there are a few more travel destinations in Central America worthy of inclusion. They are as follows:

Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Costa Rica

Costa Rica is home to many gems but the beach town of Puerto Viejo is, by far, one of the most beautiful spots in Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo is nestled within the beautiful Gandoca-Manzanillo ‎Wildlife Refuge (right by the border with Panama) and it’s only 30 miles away from the bustling city of Limon.

A few other reasons that make Puerto Viejo de Talamanca one of the best 5 travel destinations in Central America are the spectacular beaches, lively atmosphere, blend of indigenous and Afro-Caribbean cultures, inexpensive accommodation and great surfing waves such as the famous “Salsa Brava” waves.

San Blas Islands, Panama

Central America boasts a fair number of stunning cast away islands, though none are more enchanting and charming than the San Blas archipelago (home to the Kuna people).

The San Blas Islands of Panama offer a nice opportunity for relaxing under the sun and enjoy fun water sports such as boat rides, sailing and snorkeling. Getting to the San Blas Islands is also fairly easy since the islands can be reached by plane or road, although you'll need to either rent a 4x4 or hire a shuttle van service from Panama City to reach San Blas.

Another great thing about San Blas Islands is that accomodation options mostly consist of Kuna-run eco lodges and huts with pretty basic amenities like outdoor shower buckets and sleeping hammocks.

Esteli, Northern Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan town of Esteli is a popular place to retire in Central America and a fantastic destination for a family vacation. Esteli is one of the least commercialized towns in Nicaragua and it's one of the best 5 travel destinations in Central America to find an authentic Amerindian atmosphere with all the modern amenities.
Best 5 Travel Destinations in Central America

Esteli is home to banks, shops, nightclubs, restaurants, museums and even a cigar factory where you can enjoy a guided tour.

Besides taking in the local sites, sampling Esteli's local culinary cuisine and enjoying the nightlife, Esteli also offers the opportunity to wander off in nature not far from the town. Within the town's vicinity you'll find the natural reserves of Miraflor and Tisey Estanzuela where you can enjoy hiking, horseback riding and ranger-led hikes.

Puerto La Libertad, El Salvador

La Libertad is another beautiful Central American coastal town where you can enjoy a fun and inexpensive beach vacation. Puerto La Libertad boasts a nice range of accommodation options like hostels and beach resorts that cater to both families and the younger crowd.

A couple of other reasons to include La Libertad on the list of best 5 travel destinations in Central America are the town's bohemian lifestyle and regular surfing competitions held at nearby Punta Roca and Playa El Tunco. The most popular surf contest is the “El Salvador ISA World Masters Surfing Championship” in the month of October (16-23).

Mosquito Coast (La Moskitia)

The Mosquito region of central America spans eastern Honduras and northern Nicaragua and it's home to one of the most pristine rainforest areas outside of South America’s Amazon Basin (see. 7 Things to Expect on a Trip to the Amazon Rainforest).

Mosquito Coast is home to a huge variety of plants and wildlife and it is a fantastic destination for adventurous ecotourism. Flying is the most convenient way to get to the La Moskitia, though you can also do it with an organized tour and by cargo ship.

Traveling by cargo ship is slow but it's cheap and offers one the most amazing boating experiences you'll have for sure! You can negotiate prices with cargo captains in La Ceiba, though most charge no less than $60 (~1180 lempiras) per person. Mind you, the entire journey to Puerto lempira takes roughly 3 days but it’s totally worth it!

Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker is another Central American island that you can escape to without having to burn a hole in your pocket. Compared to the Caribbean, Caye Caulker is relatively cheap and boasts some of the best waters in the world for diving and fishing. Best of all, Caye Caulker is relatively untouched by mass tourism (unlike most of the Caribbean).

If you’re a fan of water activities, you’ll definitely enjoy taking full day snorkeling trips, fishing excursions and relaxing under the sun!

By the way, if you’re planning a trip to Caye Caulker, be sure to visit during the annual Lobsterfest (last week of June). Not only you’ll get to sample all kinds of lobster dishes but also enjoy one of the best live events of Belize's calendar year.

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