Central America is home to 7% of the world's biodiversity, despite only accounting for a mere 0.1% of its surface area. This obviously makes the region popular among travelers who love nature, but you can also expect to find people exploring ancient Maya ruins, seeking adventures and thrills, or relaxing along the Caribbean or Pacific coastlines. Central America is the southern-most region of the North American Continent and includes seven countries: Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama.
Belize is a spectacular country filled with staggering natural beauty, and it’s no wonder why the locals refer to their home country as “The Jewel”. Belize offers beautiful Caribbean waters and has the second largest coral reef in the world. The reef is the perfect location for diving, snorkeling, fishing and many other activities. The Belize mainland is not to be missed either. This small nation actually had a larger population during the peak of the ancient Maya Civilization than modern-day Belize has today! As a result, there are a number of spectacular Mayan sites that travelers can explore today. The official language of Belize is English, so it is easy for visitors to communicate with the local people and get a feel for the vibrant culture. Belize is full of natural adventures that will excite any traveler.
Costa Rica is the most popular travel destination in Central America for a reason. Costa Rica has it all: beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, and 5% of the entire world's biodiversity! There are beautiful resorts all over the country, and plenty of opportunities to experience the culture and its 'Pura Vida' state of mind ("Pure Life" in English). This destination is great for all types of travelers, from families to solo adventure seekers. With Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, Costa Rica is wonderful for those who enjoy the beach and water sports. But don't miss the inland adventures! Costa Rica is arguably the adventure capital of the Americas, and inland you will find volcano hikes, zip lines, hanging bridges, ATV tours and much more.
Home to 33 volcanoes, the southern half of Guatemala is one of the most mountainous regions in Central America. Most notably though, the crown jewel of this tropical country is that it's the heartland of the ancient Mayan civilization. Dating between 300 B.C. and 900 B.C., over 200 Mayan sites and ruins are open to exploration. Despite Guatemala's turbulent history (their civil war lasted from 1960 - 1996) and resulting poverty, most Guatemalans are quite courteous and respectful to tourists. Their profound and genuine hospitality combined with the country's one-of-a-kind cultural legacy, makes this an astonishing natural beauty for traveling.
Situated on the Caribbean Sea, Honduras offers a spectacular 520 miles of coastline. There are no shortages of spectacular beaches here, with crystal-clear water that is perfect for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving all year round. You will also find a beautiful mangrove region that stretches up into Guatemala, which makes for a unique adventure. Honduras is also bursting with culture. They are known for their coffee as they are the second largest producer in Central America and their cuisine, which consists of dishes like conch soup or carneada, a meat-based dish.
Nicaragua is one of the most geographically diverse countries in Central America. Its landscape consists of lakes, volcanoes and beaches, offering something for every traveler. The country is filled with small villages and tight-knit communities that keep the culture of Nicaragua alive. Whether you enjoy surfing, kayaking, hiking, or diving, Nicaragua offers adventures for every person. This nation is slowly becoming more and more of a tourist destination, and once you visit, it's easy to see why.
Panama is the most southern Central American country and travelers may be surprised to find the capital, Panama City, to be quite comparable to Miami. In the last couple of years Panama has experienced a big increase in the number of hotels and resorts in the city and in its main tourist destinations. And, if water sports is your forte, you'll be pleased to hear that Panama has 5,637 kilometers of coastline and more than 1,518 islands. In addition, over a third of the country's land is protected. Bisecting it all is the Panama Canal, the world's most concentrated highway of commerce and one of the engineering marvels of the modern world.
El Salvador is a small, densely populated country located on the Pacific Coast of Central America. The total area of the country is 8,124 square miles, making it slightly smaller than Massachusetts. El Salvador, like many Central American nations, has a mountainous landscape littered with volcanoes - most notably, Izalco, which is still very active. The country also has beautiful rainforests that are home to fantastic zip lining, hikes and eco tours. While El Salvador is without a doubt naturally beautiful, its capital San Salvador is lively and brimming with culture. While there, be sure to enjoy a pupusa, a famous dish consisting of a corn tortilla filled with meat and cheese. El Salvador is certainly not to be missed.