A Millennial’s Travel Guide to Central America
There is nothing like the excitement of traveling, but there’s always that moment when you feel stuck in the touristy confusion of not knowing what to do when you get to the end of your itinerary. Expand your vacation and scope of the world as MiLLENNiAL provides a travel guide of the top “must-do” global experiences by continent.
Combing the Americas
This week our stop is Central America. The strip of land tucked right between North America and South America consists of seven countries that offer tons of culture and outdoor exploration set on a perfect tropical backdrop. Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama provide the perfect island paradise for nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.
A site of rich history and connecting of different countries, the Panama Canal has served as a neutral international waterway since 1977. At the Miraflores Visitor Center, guests can “learn about the past, present and future of this marvel of engineering that unites the world by connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. The Miraflores Visitor Center is the perfect place to witness how the Panama Canal works. From the observation decks, visitors may watch the lock gates open and close as vessels begin or end their transit.” If you’re not so interested in hearing the history, experience it instead at the Panama Canal Museum just across the way.
El Tunco Beach in El Salvador
El Tunco beach is a great place for surfers to ride the waves. While beginners can find classes up and down the shore, more experienced surfers can enjoy the tide. The black sand and pebbly shore don’t make El Tunco great for lounging, but the beautiful rock formations just off the beach and the picturesque sunsets are worth the trip. Enjoy the scenery from one of the many restaurants on the coast.
Antigua is a colonial city that is home to beautiful Spanish-style architecture, Mayan Archaeology and more. Experience the culture the city has to offer through an organized tour for only $20.00 per person. For a more adventurous excursion, you can choose from a variety of activities Antigua has to offer, including Mule riding along coffee plantations ($25 per person), Paragliding (prices vary), and a tour of the pacaya volcano water spa ($25 per person).
Dive the “Blue Hole” in Caye Kaulker, Belize
Caye Kaulker is a tiny island off the coast of Belize which “has only five trucks for deliveries, and the main modes of transportation are feet, old fashioned one speed bikes and golf carts.” The laid back feel of the island makes it perfect for a romantic getaway of hammocking or lounging on the beach in the cool island air. However, Caye Kaulker is not short on adventure. Just one mile off the shore, visitors can dive the “blue hole”—the Belize Barrier Reef, a recognized world heritage site. Visibility on the reef is excellent so divers can enjoy seeing dozens of fish species, sponge life and the vibrant colors of hard and soft coral.
Zip lining in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a beautiful country offering vast rainforests perfect for nature lovers. Keep it simple and enjoy a hike through the forests, witnessing tons of different wildlife, or up the energy and experience the rainforest from above as you zip line over the lush jungle canopy. Various different companies offer zip lining tours, each unique in its own way with some offering purely canopy views and others including river tours.
Sail San Blas, Panama
According to the San Blas Islands website, “this beautiful archipelago of 378 islands is located in the North of Panama connected to the Caribbean Sea. All the islands are spread over 100 square miles along the coastline.” The geography of these islands makes them great for day sailing trips from one to the other. Charter a small yacht or sailboat to a neighboring island, or get more interactive and rent a kayak or paddle boat for some fun on the water. Sailing in San Blas takes your ordinary beach day up a notch, offering more than just sun bathing and sandcastle building.
Corcovado National Park
Noted as the “crown jewel” of Costa Rica’s National Park System, Corcovado is home to 103,290 acres of tropical rainforest. Activities here include whale-watching tours, snorkeling, diving with dolphins, bird watching, and riding horseback through the national park. The abundance of outdoor activities is a nature lover’s dream.
Ometope Island, Nicaragua
According to the Ometepe Nicaragua website, “Ometepe, an island composed of two volcanoes, emerges from the Cocibolca, the great Lake of Nicaragua. Joined by a thin, flat isthmus the two volcanoes shape the island like an hour glass.” The Northern half of the island is home to Concepcion, a cone-shaped active volcano. Maderas, an extinct volcano, dominates the Southern half, even housing a lagoon in its crater. Viewed as the “oasis of peace,” as it feels isolated from the rest of the world, Ometope is a paradise for backpackers looking for adventure. While it may seem isolated, the island is easily accessible by a short ferry ride from the main coast of Nicaragua.
Copan is located in western Honduras and is the site of a small Mayan ruin. The site is famous for its sculpted decorations and the portrait stela, both different kinds of monuments made by the Mayans who lived here centuries ago. The city offers beautiful Spanish style architecture and also lends itself to many archaeological expeditions.
Comayagua Street, Honduras
If you’re a family who prefers to travel during Easter, Comayagua Street in Honduras is the perfect destination during this time. The usually quiet village becomes a sea of activity and color as its street carpet tradition gets into full swing. Artists color the streets with large paintings of biblical scenes using sawdust, rice, flower petals and other natural materials. Once the huge carpet paintings are complete, the community then reenacts the events of Jesus’ crucifixion by dressing up in costume and using the carpets as guides. Central America is a land of magical outdoor adventures, tropical paradises and wildlife galore. For the Avid explorer, the region offers the experience of a lifetime. Aside from some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, visitors get to experience the culture and lifestyles that make Central America unique.
Naja Rayne is an ambitious journalism major with a concentration in news-editorial.