I love Central America & the Caribbean, from the music that is blasted in the buses to the colorful houses, there are so many great sites to visit in Central America. Here are some of the highlights of my visits (in a random order).
Havana had been on my bucket list for several years, so when I booked a trip to Mexico I immediately wanted to do a combo with Havana. Havana definitely did not disappoint, it is such a unique destination, as it is super safe but some neighborhoods completely consist of ruins. I didn’t realize the old cars would cause the city to smell, but despite of the smell it felt so special to finally be in Havana. I particularly loved the little cafes with music, the pastel colored houses and the amazing photography light.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
I especially went to Bocas del Toro to visit the “Starfish” beach, as one would expect, this is a beach where a lot of starfish are lying around. You actually had to watch where you walked, so you would not step on the starfish. Super cool! Bocas Town itself is also a lot of fun, it is a super small town, with some hotels built on poles, it is a quintessential reggae town with great restaurants. When you want to go to actual beach from Bocas Town you have to take a boat though!
Panama City, Panama
Panama City has a beautiful old town, which has been restored in its old grandeur quite a bit. If you cannot make it to Havana, Panama City can be a nice (more clean) alternative.
Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
Puerto Viejo is one of the best beach towns I have ever visited. There are no high-rise buildings, only small ho(s)tels. It has a black beach, lots of surf-shack style restaurants and you can have your drink in a coconut almost everywhere. What else would you want?
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
I visited Tortuguero in the turtle hatching season. It was super special to watch a giant turtle lay an egg; it was such an intimate moment to be part of. Tortuguero itself is a little jungle village, which did not have mass tourism, but did have all the comfort of good restaurants. I was super surprised that you could eat so well, in a location in the middle of the jungle, in a part that you could only reach by boat.
Merida still feels like a hidden gem in the popular Yucatan region. It is a typical colonial town, with an amazing food culture. In the evening everybody meets up at the central square and there is lots of entertainment. On the other hand, you do not have to make reservations for the popular restaurants and it does not feel overcrowded. Nearby, there is lots of good activities, we visited Chitzen Itza & an enormous cenote on a day trip. We loved Mercado 60, an outdoor foodhall where you can eat delicious national & international meals, while being surrounded by cool decorations and murals.
Isla Holbox, Mexico
Isla Holbox was a tropical surprise! We went here to swim with the whale sharks, but fell in love with the island as well. The island is surrounded by super blue water, uncrowded beaches, amazing photo opportunities and a beautiful sunset each day. The whole town is super sandy, so you feel like you are at the beach everywhere and you can rent golf carts to get around. We also took a kayak tour, where we got amazing views of the flamingo’s from a beautiful lagoon.
This colorful, colonial town is also part of Central-Americas’ highlights. Granada is close to several volcano’s, which you can visit on daytrips, so you can have a perfect combination of nature and culture while visiting Granada. We also loved our daytrip to Laguna de Apoyo, where we bumped into a giant local storm, refer to pictures below.
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Isla de Ometepe is an island in the middle of a lake which has stunning nature, beaches and volcanos. We explored it by horse and by bike, from the cabin on the organic finca where we stayed. Our favorite activity was visiting Ojo de Agua, a natural pool in the jungle for the perfect cooling down. We went twice! Isla de Ometepe has lots of free roaming little pigs 😉
Cerro Negro, Nicaragua
You can do volcano boarding from this volcano, which was a high adrenaline activity. Walking up the volcano with a big wooden board was super exhausting, but you will be rewarded with amazing views.