Central America

Located in the southernmost part of North America is Central America. This area consists of seven countries and takes up just over 200,000 square miles. The seven Central American countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Many of the countries within Central America are home to volcanoes and rough terrains to hike through and lakes, rivers and hot springs to wade in. Visitors are drawn to Central America for the wide variety of adventure activities as well as the richly diverse culture and vast assortment of culinary options found throughout the region. 

BELIZE

Blue Hole

Things to do:

  • Cave tubing – Cave tubing is one of the most popular activities to do in Belize.  On this trip you will generally hike for about 30 minutes through the Belizean rainforest or be driven to the water where you will tube down the Caves Branch River through spectacular cave systems. One thing to note- when the tour guides shout “Butt’s up!” be sure to listen!
  • Diving in the Blue Hole – The Great Blue Hole located off the coast of Belize is said to be a scuba diver’s paradise.
  • Zip lining– There are several zip line tours available in Belize one of which has 10 lines that go at the same time!

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Diving is the most popular adventure sport in Belize, but there are lots of water sports and land activities to choose form here. The best place to dive is the Great Blue Hole located off the coast of Belize.  Snuba, which offers the ability to see the diverse world of sea life and coral reef under water with the security of an attached oxygen line, is also a popular option for those who don’t dive but want to see the same magnificent underwater sights!

COSTA RICA

Scenic Poas Volcano

Things to do:

  • Arenal Volcano National Park– located in Alajuela, this park features such activities as horseback riding, hiking, white water rafting and wildlife viewing.  In addition to majestic views of the imposing often snow-capped volcano, there are also several hot springs to take a dip in as you hike through this volcanic area.
  • Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park – Dubbed “The Cream of the Cream of the Rainforest” by National Geographic,  the private reserve offering rainforest eco adventures borders La Amistad International Park which is shared by Costa Rica and Panamá.  The most popular draws to this park are the sky-tram ride through the rainforest canopy, the walking trails, breathtaking waterfalls and hanging bridges throughout the rainforest and the opportunity to soar like an Eagle on the original Zip Line Tour!
  • Get steamy and bubbly at Rincon de la Vieja National Park – The main draw of this park is the large steaming volcano that has caused such natural features as craters, vapor vents, bubbling mud pits and hot springs. The plant and wildlife in the park add to the reasons that this park is considered one of the best places to visit in Costa Rica.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Getting crazy close to volcanoes is probably the most exciting thing to do in Costa Rica, but sky diving here is a close second. Imagine seeing all that the rugged terrain has to offer from the air and then free falling towards the Earth at a rapid pace before pulling your chute and gliding safely to the ground.

EL SALVADOR

El Tunco

San Salvador is the nation’s capital as well as El Salvador’s most heavily populated and largest city. The rich culture and beauty of old buildings such as the churches here are a real treat for tourists. Other must see cities include Metapan, Santa Ana and San Miguel.

 Things to do:

  • Climb the Boqueron Volcano – There are few places you can actually hike up a volcano and then stand on its rim looking down at its massive crater. Not only is this an exhilarating activity, it’s said to be one of the most budget friendly in the country.
  • Visit museums and take in the culture – Two museums to consider are the Museum of Popular Art and the Military History Museum. Between museum visits be sure to check out all the amazing architecture of the country.
  • Go surfing – The surfing off the coast of El Salvador is said to be some of the best in the world.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Climbing volcanoes and surfing are the most exciting things to do in El Salvador. But there are also other exhilarating adventure activities to engage in such as hiking and swimming in the Impossible National Park which is one of El Salvador’s largest and most lush national parks that is teeming with wildlife.  Other options include Bird-Watching in the Bahia de Jiquilisco and the untouched natural beauty dominating the area as well as Zip Lining over a coffee farm near the town of Apaneca on the Ruta de las Flores (Flower Route) circuit.

 GUATEMALA

Scenic Tikal

Things to do:

  • Shop at the Chichicastenango Market – Usually called the “Chichi”, this market is the top shopping destination of Guatemala. It will take about three hours to get there from Guatemala City. Here you will find everything from textiles and pottery to fireworks and hand-crafted items. The market is also known for being the center of attraction for several festivals and feasts throughout the year.
  • Explore the Mayan ruins of Tikal – The area will take a minimum of two days to fully explore and will allow you to get up close and personal with wildlife such as monkeys, parrots, deer, macaws and other interesting species.
  • Discover Lake Atitlan and Explore the Surrounding Local Villages – While the awe-inspiring natural beauty of Lake Atitlan is reason enough for a visit, the real charm of the lake is having easy access to numerous local lakeshore villages and towns that are spread out along the lake and conveniently accessed by water taxi.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

The most exciting and yet the most dangerous activity in Guatemala is hiking the Pacaya Volcano. Although the trails here are open to the public, it is an activity that must be well prepped for and carefully thought out before taking it on. Many tourists enjoy roasting marshmallows over the hot lava on the trails.

 HONDURAS

West End Beach Roatan

Things to do:

  • Swim with Whale Sharks – The Bay Islands is one of the top diving destinations in the world and it just so happens to also be a prime locations to slip into the water and swim among these gigantic yet docile fish that can measure up to more than 30 feet in length.
  • Go Spelunking – If you have ever desired the chance to go spelunking (cave exploring), then Honduras and more specifically the Cuyamel Caves near Trujillo, is the places to do it. It is highly recommended that you bring a guide with you because it is easy to get lost trying to get in and out of the caves.
  • Go Bird-Watching at Pico Bonito National Park – along with white water rafting and kayaking, this park is said to be one of the best places in Central America to bird watch.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

The most exciting adventure activity in Honduras and one of the all-time greatest adventures in all of Central America is the 12 Day White Water Rafting Trip down the Rio Platano.  The journey starts high in the mountains of Olancho, covers Class III and IV rapids while affording unprecedented wildlife sightings galore, before ultimately culminating at the Caribbean coast. This amazing journey should be on every adventure traveler’s bucket list!

 NICARAGUA

Beach of Ometepe Island

Things to do:

  • Take a dip in Lake Nicaragua – Lake Nicaragua is the largest freshwater lake in Central America and is considered to be among the top 20 freshwater lakes of the world. In this huge body of water you can swim, fish or do a combination of the two
  • Kayak at the Apoyo Lagoon – Located near Managua, The Apoyo Lagoon is a large body of water surrounded by a plethora of tropical vegetation. If kayaking doesn’t sound appealing you can also fish or swim in the water or hike around the surrounding area.
  • Hike Ometepe Island – This extraordinary island was formed by two volcanoes. It’s one of the most difficult hikes in Nicaragua, but you will be rewarded with encounters from entertaining monkeys. If hiking sounds too hard consider a bicycle tour of the island instead.
  • Snorkel or Dive the Corn Islands – Boasting beautiful turquoise blue waters and magnificent coral reefs but without the crowds plaguing premiere Caribbean Island destinations, the Corn Islands offer a spectacular variety of marine life to be seen.  Whether going on a dive or snorkeling the shallow waters of the bays, you are likely to see spotted tiger rays, black-tip sharks, stingrays, spider crabs, spider fish, barracuda and more!

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

One of the most exciting things to do in Nicaragua is go volcano boarding. Yes, you read that correctly. On this tour you will climb Cerro Negro and then be handed a snow board to glide down the volcano.

 PANAMA

Pacific Queen - Esclusa de Gatun2

Things to do:

  • Visit the Panama Canal – Called the Eighth Wonder of the World, the 48-mile Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and is the most popular attraction of Panama. While there are many great opportunities to see the man-made wonder of the Panama Canal, the most popular way is to take an Ocean to Ocean Panama Canal Full Transit Tour.  Staring at the entrance to the Canal on the Pacific side, your vessel will venture north under the Bridge of Americas until arriving at Miraflores Locks where the ship is raised 18 meters in two distinct steps.  At Pedro Miguel Locks the ship is raised another 9 meters and then passes through the famed Gaillard Cut, the man-made Lake Gatun, before descending a total of 26 meters in three chambers at Gatun Locks on the Atlantic side of Panama.
  • Take a guided walking tour of Historic Casco Viejo with a stop by the Palacio de las Garzas (the President’s Palace) – Located in Casco Viejo, the President’s Palace has been the residence and main office for nearly all of the Panamanian presidents. Often called the White House of Panama by American tourists, the palace is a large and beautiful Spanish mansion. If you are lucky there may be a tour available to enter the Palace and possibly even meet the President of Panama!
  • Veragua Rainforest Research & Adventure Park– Shared by Costa Rica and Panamá, this park is located 40 minutes from the Limón. The most popular draws to this park are the sky-tram ride through the rainforest canopy, the walking trails, breathtaking waterfalls and hanging bridges throughout the rainforest.

Most Exciting Adventure Activities

Boquete in the western highlands of Panama is renowned as the adventure sports capital of Panama. The range of exhilarating adventure activities is virtually limitless from hiking Los Quetzales, one of if not the best hiking trail in Central America; embarking on a thrilling 13-Line Zip Line Tour with Zips as long as 500 meters; white water rafting the Chiriqui Viejo River which meanders along the Costa Rica border; and the granddaddy of them all – hiking to the peak of 11.500 ft. Baru Volcano where on a clear day you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the same time!

 Best Time to Visit Central America

Central America benefits from a tropical climate year-round, but the dry season is the most pleasant time to visit. In Belize and Panama the dry season is usually February until about April. Nicaragua and Honduras dry season runs from February until March and the dry season in the other countries of Central America runs January through March.

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