I was recently talking to a friend about places to go in Central America, one of our favorite regions to visit. She was primarily interested in Costa Rica, which is a wonderful place, no doubt. But as I was about to write to her, I decided to do a round up of our trips in Central America. You can't go wrong with any of these destinations. They are all wonderful in their own ways, but below are our favorites to date.
I think the big gem of Latin America is Roatan (island in Honduras). We had the best time there: great beach, warm water, amazing snorkeling, jungle access. Flight there was convenient and affordable (red eye through El Salvador). I can’t think of any Con at this point. We are hoping to go back to Roatan later this year (which is very unusual for us to go to the same place twice, so this says something!)
Even during the rainy season, this was a highlight for us. Tortuguero is Wow! Amazing! Great jungle; turtles (at the right time of year).
When we went there, we added 2 days in the South East part of Costa Rica (beach is OK; we visited a cute rescue center; which they now have across the country). We also went to Monteverde Cloud Forest, where you can walk in the tall bridges in the middle of the rainforest. It was not my favorite though.
All these regions are somewhat easy to reach from San Jose (a few hours drive). To go to Tortuguero, you have to drive all the way to the dock (via bumpy road) and then take the boat. It’s an adventure in itself.
A great mix of sea shore with great snorkeling and diving, jungle and history (Tikal). Despite the travel involved from the coast to Tikal and back it felt like one of the most relaxing vacations we had.
While we didn't stay in Panama very long - and we know there is a lot more to explore, we had a great time exploring the sea shore and adventuring in the jungle. We also enjoyed visiting Panama City and the very famous canal, which made for a one-of-a-kind trip.
This region offers a great mix of history, cenotes (caves to swim in), sea shore and amazing food. When you can avoiid the crowds, it's amazing. However, the most popular attraction can be pretty packed.
Pros: Nature; Wild life; Weather. The Osa Peninsula is beautiful and still very much untapped. You can find a mix of activities, beetween the jungle and the sea side.
Cons: Travel (no direct flight from SFO; connections are not great. Once you are in San Jose, there is still some driving involved to go to the good destinations). Beaches are not always great for swimming (I think there are some great beaches, though, but not the ones we went to. If you go to the places with great nature, the beach might not be the best).
Again, you can't go wrong with any of these destinations. As we visit more areas in Central America, we will add to the list. Will the ranking change?