There are many reasons why it’s worth going to Central America’s Caribbean region. The beaches aren’t crowded, and you’ll be spoiled for choice from the recreational opportunities that abound. You can surf the rolling waves, dive in turquoise waters and surrounded yourself with colorful sea life, admire Mayan archaeological sites, and indulge in the art of relaxation.
Not sure where to point your compass next to relish the essentials of sun, sea, and sand for your next beach or diving holiday? Check out these top five destinations in Central America that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list.
1. Bocas Del Toro, Panama
If you’re looking for a beach that isn’t teeming with tourists who fight for every square meter of sand, then this is the right place to be. This small archipelago consists of six islands and has become an increasingly sought-after destination, located only 32 km from the border with Costa Rica. Isla Colón Island is the most populated island, and it’s where the airport and the main town of Bocas del Toro are also located. When it comes to pristine beaches, Boca del Drago is the destination to while away sun-drenched days amid a paradise setting. In recent years, the development of tourism has risen, but the locals have managed to maintain and preserve the unique identity of nature and sea.
2. Puerto Viejo Talamanca, Costa Rica
There’s something distinctly Afro-Caribbean in the small town of Puerto Viejo. Just a short distance from the border with Panama, you can stroll along the main streets, intoxicated by the scent of coconut, and explore Creole culture. This city also offers opportunities for relaxation in large portions. Puerto Viejo became famous thanks to the surfers’ paradise of Salsa Brava, which is not for amateurs. A combination of large, crashing waves and coral shoals, Salsa Brava isn’t a destination for people who aren’t prepared physically for surfing. You can, however, go snorkeling or spend time at the beach in the late afternoon or sipping a cocktail with cane alcohol in the evening around a bonfire.
3. Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Isla Mujeres is located off the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, just 11 km from Cancún. It’s only eight kilometers long and less than a kilometer wide. The beaches are secluded and filled with traditional Mexican charm, with opportunities to go diving and hiking. To soak up the island’s history and culture, enjoy a visit to the Mayan site at El Meco, or walk among the ruins of the former residence of Fermín Antonio Mundaca de Marechaja, a 19th-century slave trader who lived at Hacienda Mundaca. After a day of soaking up the sun and culture, be sure to enjoy the red halo of the sun touching the sea at sunset in a prelude to a dazzling night sky.
4. Islas de la Bahía, Honduras
Those who like to dive in the waters of the world’s oceans know very well that the three Bay Islands (Islas de la Bahía) – Roatán, Utila, and Guanaja offer the second best dive site in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. The sublime waters present a kaleidoscope of sea life in the island’s reefs, which make up a part of the second-largest barrier reef on earth. The Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center provides snorkelers an amazing opportunity to locate one of these gentle giants on routine trips and be among them in the sea. Although many visit the area because of its fantastic diving and snorkeling opportunities, there are other forms of adventure to experience such as kayaking, sea fishing, zip lining, and horseback riding.
5. Corn Islands, Nicaragua
If you’re searching for isolated, tropical islands set amid crystal-clear water and a variety of flora and fauna, then the Corn Islands is the destination to head to. The two islands, Big Corn and Little Corn, are relatively remote from the modern hustle and bustle of mainland Nicaragua. You can tour Little Corn by foot within one hour, while on Big Corn you can test out water sports or simply stroll along the edge of the jungle that meets the Caribbean Sea.