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best places to visit in central america

So as people who have been following this blog for a while will know at the end of last year I started my Latin American Adventure where I solo backpacked through over 11 countries.While each place I visited had something about it that made it great, there are always those places that just stand out from the rest and when looking back on the trip were my favorite. So with that I present

My Top 5 Best Travel Destinations In Central America! 

This list is based of the places I visited and experiences I had.

5. El Tunco (El Salvador)

The rocky surf beach of El Tunco

No 5 on the list is El Salvador’s sleepy pacific island surf town of EL Tunco, located on the pacific coast of El Salvador a 40-minute drive from the city San Salvador, This surfers paradise is best known for its killer waves accompanied by sunny tropical weather,a myriad of beachside bars and restaurants.

Grab a board and hit the surf in El Tunco

Also with the added benefit of everything being in walking distance of each other, it makes for a nice laid back holiday destination for anyone who like’s surfing, rock climbing  or just relaxing by the pool and watching the sun set over the pacific while having an icy cold drink and eating some good food.

Watch the sunset on the beach as you sit back and have a drink

Grab a feed from the many cafes’s, restaurants and shops. Or if you’re a chip fanatic like me drop into the Jaguar Cafe for some of their “Jaguar Fries.”

 To find out more on El Tunco check out My Unexpected Journey in El Salvador

4. Playa Del Carmen (Mexico)

The beautiful beach of Playa Del Carmen

Coming in at 4th is the city of Playa Del Carmen, Located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean sea with its beautiful white powder beaches and crystal clear blue water. Sit back in a deck chair and take in the sun with a bucket full of Corona’s and limes or an icy cold Pina Colada.

Relax on the beautiful Caribbean white sand beach and enjoy a breathtaking sunset

When the sun goes down enjoy a nice meal in one of Playa’s beachside restaurants or walk a couple of block’s off the main tourist strip to get a cheaper more authentic Mexican dinner experience. All before heading out to enjoy Playa’s booming nightlife where you can dance the night away in one of its many clubs that are open till 5 am.

Party it up in one of the many club’s in Playa Del Carmen’s amazing nightlife

If all of that wasn’t enough a ferry leaves to the nearby island of Cozumel where you world famous scuba diving and even more amazing beaches await.

Sit back and enjoy an icy cold Corona or Pina Colada as you take in the sun 

Find out more about My visit to Playa Del Carmen

3. Antigua (Guatemala)

Main Central Park in Antigua

At number 3 is the Guatemalan City of Antigua or La Antigua, This beautiful colonial city with it’s Spanish influenced architecture, ruins and cobblestone streets are amazing to walk through.

Watch the Sunset over Antigua from Earth Lodge up in the hills above Antigua

Besides its numerous church’s and museums, one of which being a chocolate museum where you can learn how the Maya’s used Cacao to make chocolate.  The city has many roof top restaurants and bars where you can sit back and look out over this gorgeous city and it’s three large volcanoes which dominate the horizon around Antigua. (One of which being active)

Enjoy the beautiful Central park in the main square of Antigua

 The city is also a great launching pad for many other tourist locations such as Lake Atitlan, Semuc Champay and the Mayan ruins of Tikal.

Or if you want something a bit more adventurous take a day trip and climb the nearby active volcano Pacaya and toast some marshmallows

Walk around and explore the beautiful Spanish inspired architecture in Antigua

 

2. Caye Caulker (Belize)

The beautiful Rastafarian Island of Caye Caulker

At number 2 is the chilled Rastafarian island of Caye Caulker in Belize.  Located in the Caribbean a short 20 miles (32km) Northeast of Belize city by water taxi. With no cars on the island except for motorized golf carts and the island only measuring 5 miles (8km) long and less than 1 mile (1.6km) wide it’s very easy to get everywhere by foot or by renting a bicycle from one of the many bike rental places on the island.

Snorkel on one of the many reef’s around Caye Caulker

The main things to do on Caye Caulker are snorkeling,diving or fishing on one of the many reef’s that surround the island, Which of course include the world famous blue hole.

Dive the great blue hole!

If these aren’t your thing there are many mouth watering seafood restaurants on the island where you can get a good feed. Or go down to the split and relax by the water having a few drinks while you enjoy that sweet Caribbean sea breeze.

For me though what made Caye Caulker so appealing was how laid back and chilled the lifestyle and the people on the island were. I spent over a week here where most of my days consisted of relaxing in a hammock and just taking it all in.

 Find out more about my visit to Caye Caulker

1. Lake Atitlan (Guatemala)

The Beautiful Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlán)

And finally at number 1,  My favorite Central American destination is Lake Atitlan.  This Giant Crater lake is the deepest in Central America and besides being visually spectacular. What makes the lake such an amazing place is the numerous small town’s nestled upon its banks, all with different styles and personalities and just a quick ferry ride away from each other.

Visit street market’s, wander around the many small shops during the day and enjoy the party life in San Pedro’s many bars and restaurants.

Visit the main village of San Pedro La Laguna, which is considered the party village of the lake. With its active night life and very active backpacker scene. this village has a very different feel compared to its more quiet meditation focused village neighbors.

On San Marcos they even have fresh goats milk delivered to your door!

If your looking for something more quiet and peaceful. Find your hippy spiritual side in the mostly westerner run town of San Marcos with it’s numerous meditation,Yoga and Spiritual healing centers. your bound to get in touch with your spiritual side.

Or if you want to try something truly unique  drop in and pay a visit to the Chocolate Shaman for one of his regular Cacao meditation ceremonies

Enjoy a relaxing stay and watch the sunset over the lake at the tiny laid back town of Santa Cruz.

Another small village that’s worth  checking out is Santa Cruz La Laguna. A small traditional mayan mountainside village,It’s also the home of the hostel “La Iguana Perdida” a laid back hostel that provides communal meals a bar and amazing views out over the lake.

Take a ferry ride and take in the amazing scenery and beauty of Central America’s deepest lake.

 Find out more about my visit to Lake Atitlan where I found my spiritual side.

And there you have it my top 5 best places to visit in central america, Stay tuned for an upcoming post in the future where I go through my top 5 South American travel destinations. In the mean time If you think those places are interesting  you should check out these many similar vacation destinations when planning your next great travel adventure.

What places in Central America did you find to be the best or most memorable and why? I would love to hear about it in the comments below 🙂

2017-08-29T01:43:14+00:00 21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Katie May 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    I am so glad you posted this! I am so excited to go to all of those places when I set off on my travels. Antigua is where my trip is going to start- this post just excites me more! Sad that Bocas del Toro isn’t on your list though- one of my favorite backpacker towns (so far!)
    Cheers!
    Katie recently posted..Bocas del Toro’s Mouthwatering Chocolate TourMy Profile

    • Brendon May 30, 2013 at 4:50 pm - Reply

      Hey Katie, Antigua is an amazing place :). I was in Bocas Del Toro for christmas last year. I found it alright. It didint help that it rained pretty much the whole time. It was a pretty cool place but seemed a little too touristy for me. but then again I was staying on the main island. Maybe I’ll have ot give it another shot on one of the smaller islands when it’s not raining 😉

  2. Roisin May 31, 2013 at 2:33 am - Reply

    All these places look amazing 🙂 Caye Caulker seems like such a relaxed place and still seems to be a lot to do, and the food looks great 🙂
    Roisin recently posted..Beautiful Henley BeachMy Profile

    • Brendon June 6, 2013 at 8:02 am - Reply

      Caye Caulker really is a relaxing place and the food omg!. There is also street food that is super cheap and delicious as well that you have to try.

  3. Digital Nomads May 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm - Reply

    We only did 2 countries in SA during our 6 months (2 months in the Galapagos) and missed all of the above, maybe we can do some in our next trip there. Belize looks great and would love to visit.
    Digital Nomads recently posted..Taste Coffee as You Taste Wine in BañosMy Profile

    • Brendon June 6, 2013 at 8:03 am - Reply

      Wow Digital nomads 2 months In Galapagos is a long time. I’m so sad I missed out on Galapagos on my trip (Was a little bit pricey for budget I was on) Belize was beautiful I need to return also as I really only saw Caye Caulker.

  4. Agness June 6, 2013 at 7:35 am - Reply

    I have heard a lot of positive feedback on Playa Del Carmen in Mexico and after reading your post I feel like going there. The beach looks super cool. Just hope it’s not too busy and touristy.
    Agness recently posted..Lo-Fi Nomad Competition by GlobalGrasshopper.comMy Profile

    • Brendon June 6, 2013 at 7:51 am - Reply

      Playa Del Carmen is pretty touristy, Not as touristy as Cancun though. I was lucky enough to go during low season which made it even better as it wasn’t super packed 🙂

  5. Frank June 26, 2013 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Beautiful, thanks! Did you go to Isla Omepete? Just curious that it didn’t make the list: http://bbqboy.net/isla-omepete-nicaragua/
    Good job with the blog, will follow you on twitter!
    Frank (bbqboy)
    Frank recently posted..Montreal – Visiting the Botanical Gardens and InsectariumMy Profile

    • Brendon June 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Fran, Nah unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see much of Nicaragua except Leon due to having to rush down to Panama for a boat. It looks amazing though and I heard good things about omepete. I need go to back and do Nicaragua properly one of these days

  6. Samantha June 28, 2013 at 4:39 am - Reply

    I second Frank, Nicaragua (in my opinion) is always sorely skipped over because people think it’s not as nice or not as safe but it is gorgeous!! Super humid but very very beautiful.
    Samantha recently posted..Arenal PalaceMy Profile

  7. Georgia June 30, 2013 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks for this – some absolutely amazing pictures. Central America is somewhere I’m dying to visit once I’ve saved up enough for another long trip.
    Antigua definitely tops my list of where I most want to go to.

    Just found your blog and really loving the Central America posts.
    Georgia
    Georgia recently posted..Graffiti in Granada – and why you’ll love it.My Profile

    • Brendon June 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Thanks Georgia, Glad your finding my Central American posts useful :D. I loved Antigua such a beautiful city, Can’t wait to go back and re-visit it

  8. Best holiday destinations January 14, 2014 at 7:10 am - Reply

    Nice pics!!!!!!!!!!! looking a delicious food and fantastic market.I will surely plan my upcoming vacation to this place.
    Best holiday destinations recently posted..Planning An Amazing And Romantic Honeymoon Trip To The Sauble BeachesMy Profile

  9. Daniel Grimes May 23, 2014 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    Been to 3 out of 5 whilst on my bicycle. Really looking forward to El Salvador. I felt Playa was too touristy, just slightly south is Lake Bacalar which is a must see!

  10. Rineeb May 24, 2015 at 8:36 am - Reply

    Great write up! Having been to all these places last year, I loved it so much I have booked a 1way ticket back and leave in 2weeks!!! I found El Salvador surprisingly beautiful and laid back. Juayua and El Cuco being my favourite places, and both places I can’t wait to go back to!

  11. Jaynie July 4, 2015 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    I am surprised Panama and Costa Rica aren’t on your list. I saw your comment about rain in Bocas and we had the same experience visiting Caye Caulker. Three days of pouring rain and I couldn’t wait to move on.

    • Brendon July 5, 2015 at 7:22 am - Reply

      Yeah, Unfortunately I didnt get to spend much time in Panama and Costa Rica due to being on a tight budget :(. I heard amazing things though especially about Costa Rica. Maybe my next trip 🙂

  12. Jempi November 11, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Cool list Brendon! I guess that El Salvador is/will be my favourite. Our bucket list has just grown with a few places. Thanks a lot for your advice. Cheers, Jempi & Nina
    Jempi recently posted..The totally random and utterly cool guide to Rotterdam (with 10 cool things to do)My Profile

  13. Burma travel March 20, 2017 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Nice tourist spots, I’ll add them to my upcoming trips list. I hope have the next exciting trip

  14. Samantha June 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Great post and amazing pics. Belize is on our bucket list and I can’t wait to visit one day. Thanks for sharing the great stores and pictures.
    Samantha recently posted..Top Free 7 Things to Do in Daytona Beach FloridaMy Profile

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