Central America is a land bridge connecting the North American Continent to the neighboring continent of South America. Travel Central America to see Caribbean blue waters, volcanoes, raging white rivers, serene cloud forests, and pristine coastal preserves teeming with exotic wildlife that fill the 7 countries spanning the map of Central America.
Home to Central America's most metropolitan capitol, San Jose, Costa Rica seems to have it all. An array of climates, 2 ocean shores, incredible beaches and erupting volcanoes make this a place where you can experience the best of Latin America all in one place. Geological features like the volcanoes, lakes, caves, and waterfalls are the top draws if you visit here as you travel Central America. In fact, most visitors can find some of the top attractions in Costa Rica northwest of the capitol. The area to the east of Lake Arenal is Arenal Volcano, which is an active volcano that has several small eruptions per day.
If you were to stay at the Tabacon Hot Springs, you could sit at one of the sulfuric pools at gaze at summit of Arenal glowing in the night sky. Beyond this area, on Nicoya Peninsula, is the splendid Gulf of Nicoya and Tamarindo Beach, on the coast. Tamarindo is easily one of Costa Rica's top spots. Miles of perfect beaches and a waterfront filled with villas to rent, surf, fishing and snorkeling shops, and the best seaside living in Central America make this spot an irresistible draw.
Guatemala and Tikal
This country borders Belize to the west. Mayan ruins, simmering volcanoes, indigenous culture and colonial Spanish towns fill this country. Antigua is a well-preserved remnant of the Spanish culture that left its influence on this country and throughout the region.
Tikal has some of the most incredible Mayan sites, with over 3,000 structures, including carved, towering pyramids and ancient plazas. It was once home to over 100,000 people and a seat of the powerful Jaguar rulers, whose images you will find carved into the stone monuments.
Forty years of civil war that ended in 1996 has left a mark on this country, but visitors brave the unpredictable but relatively calm countryside to discover its other glories on a Central America vacation. If you explore Coban, an area filled with humid cloud forests, glittering waterfalls and caves that beg to be explored, you will very likely see the Quetzal. This bird was sacred to the Mayans. Once your own gaze falls on its resplendent beauty, you might be inspired to a state a reverence, as the indigenous cultures who first glimpsed it were.
This laid back Caribbean paradise is a magnet for cruise ships that carry sun-loving travelers to its seaside resorts and jungle eco-lodges. Tourism has surpassed agriculture to become the biggest industry in this small country. The Belize barrier reef is easily explored in the 80+ degrees water that has 100 or more feet of visibility. The main attraction of Belize is its water front treasures. Ambergris Cay is one of the most picturesque shorelines of the Caribbean. Other magnets on a Central America tours to this country are Toledo, on the southern shores of Belize. Rainforest, caves, and tropical wildlife draw visitors to this area's main city, Punta Gorda. Beyond the picturesque eastern Caribbean beaches, miles of roads await your exploration. You will find a map of Central America will help you if you're looking to continue past the border of Belize and into the neighboring Latin America country of Guatemala.
El Salvador has seen its share of strife and difficulty, most recently in a civil war, which ended over 10 years ago. It is still not a safe tourist haven. To earn the reward of El Salvador's natural and manmade wonders on your Central America vacation, you have to be vigilant against carjacking and the random violence and pick pocketing that visitors can be subject to. Mayan culture makes its influence felt here, and the Mayan town of Joya de Ceren was covered, like Pompeii, in ashes from a volcanic eruption in 600 AD, which has kept it impeccably preserved. La Palma and Ilobasco are places you can see modern crafts and folk art, for a taste of El Salvador's modern creations. Sites that tempt visitors as they travel Central America are the mountains and volcanoes of the Cerro Verde National Park, the stunning beaches at Costa del Sol, the nature preserves of Montecristo and El Imposible National Parks.
Honduras is one of the larger countries in Central America, with tons of places to explore. Its resorts at the Bay Island are a haven for beach lovers, snorkeling and diving. Copan is a ruin explorers dream, while Honduras's north coast and the rainforest lures adventure tours and eco-tourism. Travel here can be a challenge, with unpaved roads and amenities often of only the very basic kind. While it has been free from war and instability like its neighbors Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala, this country was devastated by hurricane Mitch in 1998. Braving these challenges and visiting Honduras on your Central America vacation will reward you with the unspoiled beauty of this rugged country.
This country, which is now politically stable since a series of revolutions which died over a decade ago and also a victim of Hurricane Mitch's 1998 fury, is now coming to the forefront as one of Central America's tourist destinations. The year of 1999 was the first time a cruise ship docked here, and since then, the capitol of Managua has burst with new shopping malls and hotels. An abundance of lakes, more than any other in Costa Rica, are frequented by visitors; especially Lake Nicaragua. Low prices make this a very accessible place for a Central America vacation, giving you a chance to experience the biodiversity of the region, which has many areas that have now become protected nature preserves. This somewhat wild and untamed country is great for going off the beaten path, but its best experienced through a guided tour.
This long narrow country has all the gifts of Central American heritage - Spanish influence, historic ruins, coral reefs, and lush rainforest. The Panama Canal is a modern engineering feat that sets this country apart from the others. This feature draws cruise ships and sailing vessels to this bustling gateway of tourism and industry in Latin America. After gaining full control of the canal in 1999, Panama has taken this opportunity to improve its infrastructure in order to meet the needs of its many visitors who come to travel Central America. New roads and luxury hotels are springing up everywhere. You should definitely make a visit to Panama part of your Central America tours. Its low prices and lack of crowds sets this apart from the popular country of Costa Rica, which borders it to the north.