Sizzlin' Hot Destinations in Central America

Pack your map of Central America and take a journey around the region to visit some of the most spectacular sights each country has to offer, including Belize, Costa Rica and Guatemala.

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Barrier Reef, Belize

Belize’s most popular tourist attraction is its 190-mile series of coral reefs. The Belize Barrier Reef is a hot destination for scuba diving and snorkeling, attracting half of its 260,000 visitors each year.

Roatan Island, Honduras

Located between the islands of Utila and Guanaja, 37-mile-long Roatan Island is surrounded by one of the world’s largest barrier reefs. It’s a great destination for snorkelers and divers who can experience face-to-face encounters with marine life, including sea turtles and eagle rays. We recommend spending an hour or 2 walking along the beautiful beach near Turquoise Bay.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

Hike a path that leads to impressive lava flows from the still simmering but young Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Since October 2010, Arenal’s volcanic activity has been decreasing and explosions have become rare. Enjoy the picturesque scenery and take a fun road trip around Lake Arenal located nearby.

Cangrejal River, Honduras

Feeling adventurous? Experience the rapids of the Cangrejal River, one of the best places in Central America to go white-water rafting. Experienced rafters can brave the river’s challenging class IV and V rapids.

Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua

The Concepcion and Maderas volcanoes form Isla de Ometepe, a jungle island that’s home to 35,000 people, countless birdlife, cattle and howler monkeys. The island is sacred ground. Archeology buffs will enjoy spotting rocks carved into figures and pre-Columbian petroglyphs found all around the island, including its lush tropical forest.

Panama Canal, Panama

Visit the site in Panama City where the Atlantic Ocean intersects with the Pacific Ocean. One of the largest and most difficult engineering projects, the 48-mile Panama Canal was built as a safe shortcut instead of taking the Cape Horn route around the southernmost tip of South America.

Granada, Nicaragua

The Iglesia de La Merced stands high above Granada’s multicolored one-story cottages and townhouses. We recommend taking a stroll along the town’s cobblestone streets to see the opulence and history of the old Spanish Empire.

Costa del Sol, El Salvador

Sample fresh seafood at a restaurant while witnessing an amazing sunset in Costa del Sol, El Salvador. It’s the largest beach in the country and there several activities to keep beachgoers active, including sailing, horseback riding, jogging and playing a couple rounds of beach volleyball.

Ambergris Caye, Belize

Travelers visiting the islands in the western Caribbean should not miss Ambergris Caye, the largest island in Belize. Go kite surfing in Caye Caulker, snorkeling in Shark Ray Alley, bird-watching at Lalas Bird Sanctuary and golfing at Caye Chapel Golf Resort & Marina. End the day by sitting on the pier while the waves lap at your toes.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Once a funky beach town, Tamarindo is now a prime spot for commercial development, including a variety of shops, bars and hotels. Most tourists and locals flock to the town’s beaches. We recommend heading to Playa Langosta or Playa Grande for swimming and surfing. Other outdoor options include diving, sports fishing, wildlife watching and canopy tours.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Guatemala’s Dulce River flows out of Lake Izabal and is a popular destination for sailboats. Surrounded by a lush forest, the entrance to the river is the Castillo de San Felipe de Lara, a Spanish fort once built to stop pirates from entering the lake from the Caribbean when this part of Guatemala was an important shipping port.

Antigua, Guatemala

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Antigua has several ruins of colonial churches as well as well-preserved Spanish Baroque-influenced architecture. Visit Cerro de la Cruz for the best view of the city or mingle with the locals around the newly reconstructed water fountain located in the city’s Parque Central (Central Park).

La Libertad, El Salvador

Experience the gritty vitality of La Libertad, El Salvador. The small port town has a steady flow of tourists because it is known as the country’s surf capital, hosting regional and international surfing championships. The town has a serious drug problem and in some cases, foreigners are easy targets for theft and assaults. So keep your guard up and travel in numbers when possible.

Panama City, Panama

With a blend of old Baroque architecture and modern skyscrapers, Panama City’s landscape tells a tale of 2 cities. The city’s Casco Viejo neighborhood is steeped in rich colonial history whereas the city’s Punta Paitilla neighborhood is thriving with office towers, banks, hotels, restaurants and shops. We recommend visiting Playa Kobbe, a beach less than 20 minutes from downtown, and taking a stroll through Parque Natural Metropolitano to see more than 200 species of birds.

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