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The 20 Greatest Locations to Go to in Central America (For Nature Lovers)


Making a “better of” record for any given area, nation, or continent is a thankless activity.

There’s actually no strategy to be goal, and naturally it’s unimaginable to go to EVERY place in a given vacation spot until you reside there.

So take into account our overview of 20 Greatest Locations to Go to in Central America to be a basic bucket record of scorching spots to go to, significantly when you love nature, wildlife, historical past, and indigenous tradition.

READ MORE: The 16 Greatest Mayan Ruins to Discover

Ecotourism Destination - Central America
Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize, Central America by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

Greatest Locations to Go to in Central America

  1. ATM Cave (Belize)
  2. Belize Barrier Reef (Belize)
  3. The Cayes (Belize)
  4. Hopkins Village (Belize)
  5. Arenal Volcano Nationwide Park (Costa Rica)
  6. Corcovado Nationwide Park (Costa Rica)
  7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve (Costa Rica)
  8. Tirimbina Organic Reserve (Costa Rica)
  9. Tortuguero Nationwide Park (Costa Rica)
  10. Antigua (Guatemala)
  11. Lake Atitlán (Guatemala)
  12. Tikal (Guatemala)
  13. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve (Honduras)
  14. Roatán (Honduras)
  15. Little Corn Island (Nicaragua)
  16. Isla Ometepe (Nicaragua)
  17. Coiba Nationwide Park (Panama)
  18. Bocos del Toro (Panama)
  19. Panama Canal (Panama)
  20. Soberania Nationwide Park (Panama)

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BELIZE

Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) Cave in Belize - best places to visit in central america
ATM Collapse Belize, picture by Peter Andersen through CC BY-SA 3.0

1. ATM Cave

Situated an hour from San Ignacio, this superior attraction is formally often called Actun Tunichil Muknal.

Protected as a part of the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve, it’s a wonderful journey geared toward individuals who get pleasure from energetic Central America journey.

Visiting the ATM Cave requires a hike by way of the jungle, a swim contained in the well-known underground cave, then wading a half-mile up the river.

Then there’s a mile-long hike by way of rooms of stalactites and stalagmites, with names comparable to “The Cathedral.”

Finally you’ll attain the glistening stays of historic human sacrifices the Maya folks made to their gods, in addition to pottery stays which were dated to 700-900 AD. 

READ MORE: Exploring the Historic Xunantunich Mayan Ruins of Belize

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN BELIZE -Belize Barrier Reef Moray Eel
Moray Eel on the Belize Barrier Reef by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

2. Belize Barrier Reef

Second solely to Australia’s Nice Barrier Reef, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef extends 550+ miles, from Cancun to Honduras.

The 190-mile Belize Barrier Reef, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Web site in 1996, contains round 33% of it.

It’s the nation’s #1 vacationer attraction and among the best locations to go to in Central America with Scuba diving and snorkeling drawing about half of Belize’s annual guests.

Not too long ago faraway from the record of endangered UNESCO websites, the reef’s outstanding partitions, pinnacles, holes, and reef flats are dwelling to an array of cool and bizarre ocean animals.

This contains 70 exhausting coral species, 35 mushy coral species, 500 species of fish, and a whole bunch of invertebrates. 

READ MORE: Scuba Diving the Belize Barrier Reef

Best places to visit Central America -Glover’s Reef Atoll in Belize
Glover’s Reef Atoll in Belize through Canva

3. The Cayes

With 239 miles of shoreline, greater than 200 islands (also referred to as Cayes, which is pronounced “keys”), and the aforementioned reef system, Belize is haven for many who love seashores and watersports.

The Cayes simply rank among the many finest Caribbean islands to go to, with gorgeous surroundings, some finest seashores in Central America, charming villages, and a great deal of marine life.

Ambergris Caye and its sister island, Caye Caulker, are arguably the 2 hottest. 

However smaller islands comparable to Glover’s Reef Atoll (a part of a UNESCO-protected Marine Reserve), Lighthouse Reef Atoll (dwelling to Belize’s Blue Gap), and South water Caye are higher fitted to nature lovers. 

READ MORE: The 30 Greatest Unique Islands to Go to (For Your World Journey Bucket Checklist)

Hamanasi Beach Resort Beach Chairs in Belize
Seaside in Hopkins Village by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

4. Hopkins Village

Tiny Hopkins Village is situated south of Belize Metropolis close to Dandriga, and it’s the proper place to immerse your self within the wealthy Garifuna tradition.

A lot of the residents descend from folks whose ancestry could be traced again to West Africa.

After making their strategy to the Caribbean and Central America, these “Black Caribs” intermarried with indigenous Amerindians.

At the moment, their tradition (which may also be present in northern Guatemala) presents a combination of African, Amerindian, and Spanish influences.

To be taught extra about their cultural traditions, attempt a Garifuna drumming lesson on the Lebeha Drumming Middle.

READ MORE: The 20 Greatest Cultural Festivals Across the World

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN COSTA RICA

Arenal Volcano, as Seen From Tabacon Hot Springs
Arenal Volcano, as seen from Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

5. Arenal Volcano Nationwide Park

Costa Rica is the perfect Central American nation to go to when you’re in search of dynamic landscapes, nationwide parks, and wildlife.

Dominating the verdant panorama of northwestern Costa Rica, Arenal ranked among the many world’s most energetic volcanoes till 2010.

Situated close to the city of La Fortuna, the volcano has been dormant for practically a decade now.

However the nationwide park stays a well-liked ecotourism hotspot because of pure sights comparable to Lake Arenal, the La Fortuna Waterfall, and numerous volcano-fed scorching springs (Tabacon is our favourite).

And naturally the 5,480-foot mountain nonetheless looms giant, like a sleeping big ready for the opportune second to re-awaken.

READ MORE: Ecotourism in Costa Rica: The Final Eco Journey Information

White Faced Capuchin Monkey, Corcovado National Park Costa Rica - best Central American country to visit
White Confronted Capuchin Monkey, Corcovado Nationwide Park Costa Rica by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

6. Corcovado Nationwide Park

Situated on the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica, Corcovado Nationwide Park is a nature-lover’s paradise Nationwide Geographic referred to as “essentially the most biologically intense place on earth.”

The nation’s largest nationwide park is dwelling to 13 completely different ecosystems, with in depth climbing trails by way of highland cloud forest, lowland rain forests, mangrove swamps, and sandy seashores.

The biodiversity of its wildlife is astounding, together with over 10,000 insect species, 370 hen species, and 140 mammal species (starting from a number of sorts of monkeys and sloths to jaguars and bizarre animals comparable to Baird’s tapirs).

READ MORE: 40 Superb Costa Rica Animals

Cute Coati at Monteverde, Costa Rica
Curious Coatimundi at Monteverde Rainforest, Costa Rica picture by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

7. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

Lengthy earlier than this reserve was established, the city of Monteverde was settled by American Quakers who moved to Costa Rica in quest of a extra peaceable lifestyle.

It was they who determined to guard the forest from improvement. At the moment Monteverde Cloud Forest ranks amongst Costa Rica’s finest sights, drawing 70,000+ guests a 12 months.

The reserve’s six completely different ecological zones are dwelling to round 100 mammal species, 120 reptilian and amphibian species, 400 hen species, and greater than 2,500 plant species.

It additionally has a Nature Middle, butterfly gardens, and plenty of climbing trails, suspension bridges, and ziplines.

READ MORE: The 15 Greatest Locations to Keep in Costa Rica (Resorts, Motels & Eco-Lodges)

Sloth at the Tirimbina Biological Reserve, Costa Rica
Sloth on the Tirimbina Organic Reserve, Costa Rica by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Tirimbina Organic Reserve

Although it’s not as well-known as a number of the different locations in Central America on this record, Tirimbina Organic Reserve presents probably the most instructional ecotourism experiences in all of Costa Rica.

It’s situated about 2 hours by automotive from San Jose in Sarapiquí, between the forests and rivers of the nation’s northern area.

The reserve boasts practically six miles of wildlife-rich climbing trails, together with alternatives to trek by way of cacao plantations, wetlands, and secondary forests.

There are additionally quite a lot of guided excursions accessible, together with probabilities to study bats, birds, frogs, and how chocolate is made.

READ MORE: Cano Island: Costa Rica Scuba Diving at its Best

Tortuguero River Costa Rica
Tortuguero River by Bret Love

9. Tortuguero Nationwide Park 

If you wish to go to this distant, 77,000-acre nationwide park on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast, you’ll have to take a ship or aircraft, as there are not any roads or automobiles allowed.

Tortugero boasts 11 completely different habitats inside its boundaries: As a result of labyrinth-like community of tributaries and lagoons, it’s finest to discover by boat, the place the wildlife is never far-off.

The park is finest identified for its seashores, which magnetize a whole bunch of inexperienced, hawksbill, leatherback, and loggerhead sea turtles in the course of the peak nesting season.

Take an evening hike with a neighborhood information and also you might need an opportunity to see mama turtles laying their eggs!

READ MORE: The Final Tortuguero Nationwide Park, Costa Rica Journey Information

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN GUATEMALA

Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua Guatemala - best places to visit Latin America
The Iconic Arco de Santa Catalina in Antigua Guatemala by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

10. Antigua 

A UNESCO World Heritage Web site, Antigua, Guatemala (whose identify means “outdated Guatemala”) presents an distinctive array of actions for these with a ardour for historical past and indigenous tradition.

The small city of 45,000 residents has a robust Mayan presence, particularly on the Antigua Avenue Market and Parque Central.

Followers of colonial structure will discover tons to like, from historic Mayan ruins and the enduring Arco de Santa Catalina to attractive church buildings (Antigua Guatemala Cathedral, Iglesia de la Merced, and so forth).

And nature lovers will get pleasure from birdwatching at Finca el Pilar, touring a Guatemalan espresso farm, and/or climbing the Pacaya Volcano. 

READ MORE: High 15 Issues to Do in Antigua, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán Guatemala - best countries to visit Central America
Lake Atitlán in Guatemala by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

11. Lake Atitlán

One in all Guatemala’s hottest vacationer sights amongst home and worldwide vacationers alike, Lake Atitlán additionally ranks amongst its most stunning.

The lake is inside an enormous volcanic crater within the southwestern highlands, surrounded by lush inexperienced hills, towering volcanic peaks, and charming villages.

The city of Panajachel is a bit crowded and congested with Rooster Buses for our tastes, however San Pedro la Laguna, San Juan la Laguna, and Santiago Atiltlán (which could be reached by boat) are all wealthy with Mayan artwork, conventional meals, and music.

Actions embrace touring espresso plantations, exploring the Atitlán nature reserve, and savoring the spectacular dawn and sundown over the lake.

READ MORE: 40 Issues You Ought to Know Earlier than Touring to Guatemala

Tikal Guatemala Mayan Ruins - BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN GUATEMALA
Tikal Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

12. Tikal

Even when you don’t know this historic metropolis by identify, you’ve nearly actually seen it in iconic photographs in films comparable to the unique Star Wars and the James Bond movie Moonraker.

Granted UNESCO World Heritage Web site standing in 1979, Tikal was as soon as dwelling to greater than 100,000 Mayan folks, however was deserted for unknown causes someday within the ninth century.

At the moment guests can climb quite a few canopy-piercing pyramids and discover most of the website’s structural ruins.

In between, you’ll discover a jungle crammed with wildlife comparable to howled monkeys, wild turkeys, and myriad tropical hen species.

READ MORE: 50 Fascinating Info about Guatemalan Tradition

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN HONDURAS

Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve Honduras - Best places to visit in Honduras
Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve Honduras by Caracho de corazón., CC BY-SA 4.0 , through Wikimedia Commons

13. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve

A UNESCO World Heritage Web site since 1982, this biodiverse reserve on the “Mosquito Coast” of Honduras was added to the record of World Heritage in Hazard in 2011, due primarily to unlawful fishing, logging, and poaching.

The nation’s largest protected space (1.3 million acres) boasts tropical rainforests, mangroves, coastal lagoons, and savannahs, with wildlife that features 39 species of mammals, 377 species of birds, and 126 species of reptiles and amphibians.

The realm can be dwelling to 4 indigenous cultural teams– the Miskito, Pech, Garifuna, and Ladino– in addition to greater than 200 pre-Columbian historic archaeological websites. 

READ MORE: Macaw Mountain Honduras. The Park of Residing Jewels

Mary's Place, Roatan, Honduras - best Central America vacations
Mary’s Place, Roatan, Honduras by Tourismroatan.com

14. Roatán

Situated 40 miles off the northern coast, Roatán is the biggest of Honduras’ Bay Islands.

And since the island is situated instantly atop the Mesoamerican Reef, the snorkeling and diving listed below are simply among the many finest within the Caribbean.

Its finest dive websites is Mary’s Place, which has a sheer crevasse that superior divers can discover (or inexperienced persons can dive over) to see black coral followers, anemones, big seahorses, and extra.

Not like many Latin American hotspots, Roatán is comparatively distant and underneath the radar, to not point out probably the most budget-friendly locations on this record. 

READ MORE: 40 Inexperienced Journey Suggestions (The Final Information to Sustainable Journey)

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN NICARAGUA

yemaya-resort-little-corn-island-nicaragua
Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. Photograph courtesy Yemaya Resort

15. Little Corn Island

Seeking to really get away from all of it? Little Corn Island will likely be a dream come true, with lush jungle, clear water, and no automobiles allowed.

Not like the Nicaraguan mainland, Little Corn has a Creole tradition that’s extra generally related to Caribbean islands: Locals have a combination of African, Indian, and Spanish roots.

As soon as a backpacker’s haven, the unspoiled island has expanded its eco-luxury resorts and eco accommodations in recent times.

The snorkeling and Scuba diving there’s top-notch, with nurse sharks, rays, dolphins, sea turtles, and the occasional hammerhead noticed simply off the island’s shores.

READ MORE: Little Corn Island Nicaragua: A Style of Nirvana

 

Isla de Ometepe Island Nicaragua Central America - best places to travel Central America
Isla Ometepe Nicaragua through Canva

16. Isla Ometepe

This UNESCO-recognized island is situated in Lake Nicaragua (the biggest lake in Central America), and was fashioned by two close by volcanoes.

The smaller one, 4,573-foot Volcan Maderas, is now dormant, however the 5,282-foot Concepción Volcano has erupted frequently for practically 140 years.

The realm’s fertile forests are dwelling to wildlife comparable to white-headed capuchins and yellow-napes parrots.

There are additionally quite a few climbing/biking trails, waterfalls, swimming holes, canoeing/kayaking trails, fincas (or farms), and even historic petroglyphs to discover. 

READ MORE: Isla Ometepe Nicaragua: An Epic Information

BEST PLACES TO VISIT IN PANAMA

Discover Scuba Diving at Coiba National Park, Panama
Coiba Nationwide Park Scuba Diving

17. Coiba Nationwide Park 

This UNESCO-protected marine reserve situated off Panama’s southern coast holds a particular place in our hearts: It was the place my spouse who conquered a worry of water and realized to Scuba dive.

Situated close to the famed Hannibal Financial institution, a continental shelf standard amongst sport fishermen, Coiba is a good place to see whales, dolphins, tuna, reef sharks, and big colleges of tropical fish.

On land you’ll discover some nice climbing trails, and wildlife starting from nesting sea turtles to howler monkeys, Coiba Island agouti, white-tailed deer, and extra. 

READ MORE: Coiba Nationwide Park Panama: Sharks, Crocs and Noriega Jail

Bastimentos Island National Park Panama
Coral Key on Bastimentos Island, Panama through Canva

18. Bocos del Toro

Situated southeast border with Costa Rica, this excellent archipelago has grow to be a burgeoning hotspot for Panama ecotourism lovers.

Its sights are quite a few, however you’ll wish to begin at Bastimentos Island Nationwide Park, which presents a number of the nation’s finest snorkeling alternatives.

The Smithsonian’s Bocos del Toro Analysis Station presents glorious guided excursions, with naturalists introducing friends to most of the space’s wildlife.

On Isla Colon, the privately-owned Finca los Manos botanical backyard presents instructional program and a great deal of native wildlife. 

READ MORE: Panama Photographs: Glamping, Fishing, Dolphins & Rainbows

Panama Canal
Panama Canal through Canva

19. Panama Canal

The #1 vacationer attraction in Panama can be one of many world’s nice marvels of engineering innovation.

Remark decks on the Agua Clara (on the Atlantic facet) and Miraflores (Pacific) locks provide guests superior views of ships passing by way of the canal.

And each places have glorious information in regards to the canal’s colourful historical past.

Different sights embrace Lake Gatun, wildlife-rich boat excursions alongside the Chagres River (the canal’s major water supply), an indigenous Emberá village, and two UNESCO-protected Spanish forts.

One lies in ruins, however Fort San Lorenzo nonetheless stands right this moment. 

READ MORE: 10 Latin America Ecotourist Adventures (For Your World Journey Bucket Checklist)

Wild Rufos MotMot in Soberania National Park
Wild Rufos MotMot in Soberania Nationwide Park of Gamboa, Panama, Central America through Canva

20. Soberania Nationwide Park 

Situated very near Panama Metropolis (about 16 miles away) and the banks of the Panama Canal, Soberania Nationwide Park covers roughly 55,000 acres of biodiverse tropical rainforest.

When it comes to wildlife, the park is dwelling to over 100 species of mammals, practically 80 sorts of reptiles, and over 50 amphibians.

However it’s finest often called a birdwatcher’s paradise, with round 525 recorded species.

The park’s Pipeline Street is broadly considered among the best locations to see tropical birds within the Americas!

Soberania additionally has a Rainforest Discovery Middle, which presents guests entry to a treetop-clearing remark tower. –Bret Love

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