Central America offers something completely different to South America. All 8 countries located on the isthmus offer something unique in regards to culture, beaches and ecological diversity. Distances between each country and destinations within each county are small, making internal travel quick and cheap. On top of this international flights tend to be a lot cheaper than its South American neighbour.
Here are some of the hightlights of each country.
Some of the best beaches to be found anywhere on the isthmus are on the Riviera Maya and the peninsula also contains some incredible Mayan ruins – Chichen Itza & Tulum to name but a few. The peninsula is also rich in quality hotels with places such as the Viceroy Riviera Maya & the Hacienda Santa Rosa leading the way.
Without question, this is the most colourful of all the Central American countries. Locals still wear their traditional dress and the country is steeped in history. It also appears to have everything; mountains, volcanoes, lakes, colonial towns as well as jungle clad Mayan ruins at Tikal.
Probably the best place for a honeymoon, Belize is small and diverse. Action and adventure can be found in The Cayo District, wildlife at Lamanai, trekking and Mayan ruins at Mountain Pine Ridge and for snorkelling, diving and relaxing on the beach you head to The Cayes.
Still very much untouched, Honduras is best known for The Bay Islands. The islands offer one of the cheapest places to dive anywhere in the world and it has an amazingly diverse reef system. On the mainland, the Mayan ruins of Copan are worth a few days and the rivers and waterfalls at Pico Bonito are unique.
Nicaragua is what Costa Rica was 20 years ago – underdeveloped and full of potential. For us this is the place to go now before it gets spoilt. The colonial towns of Granada and Leon are lovely, Omepete Island in Lake Nicaragua is a real backwater, whilst the Pacific coast at San Juan del Sur has 2 superb beach hotels; Morgans Rock and the new Mukul Resort.
Tried and tested, this is still an excellent holiday destination. Tremendous bird watching in Tortuguero, zip wiring in Monteverde and outstanding beach hotels on the Nicoya Peninsula means there is something for everyone. You can still get off the beaten track here though and the Casa Corcovado hotel on the Osa Peninsula and the Pacuare Lodge near Turrialba are definitely worth the effort.
Panama City is worth the trip alone. The beautiful Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) with its boutique hotels and funky restaurants is well worth some time, whilst the Panama Canal will always amaze. Beyond the city you will find good birding in Soberania, the curious Kuna people on the San Blas Archipelago and good beaches in Bocas Del Toro.