Wedged between two polar opposite continents, this subcontinent offers the best of both worlds: rural villages, modern cities, beach resorts and thrilling attractions.
Visit Mexico and the Central American countries for fabulous beaches and much more. Find history, culture, ancient ruins and delicious food.
Mexico’s beaches are justifiably famous. On the western Pacific Ocean coastline, see cliff divers in Acapulco, stay in a private bungalow with a pool in Puerto Vallarta and watch marine wildlife in Cabo San Lucas. Cozumel and Cancun on the eastern Yucatan peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico offer lovely sand beaches with access to reef diving and nearby Mayan ruins.
Moving south, appreciate impressive art and architecture in Mexico City. See the folk ballet and visit museums ranging from anthropological to artistic, including the famed Museo Frida Kahlo. Eat spicy meals on a food tour and purchase hand-crafted silver jewelry. Climb the 2,000-year-old pyramids of the pre-Columbian site, Teotihuacan.
Continuing south from Mexico, visit Guatemala. Here, find places across the nation where you can wake to watch the sun rise over Mayan temples and pyramids. See numerous volcanoes across the country and swim in blue-green limestone pools in the isolated area of Semuc Champey.
Snorkel, learn to dive or add to your scuba certifications through dive programs on Roatan and Utila off the coast of Honduras.
Although Costa Rica is relatively small, the country has 20 national parks. Join an ecotourism tour to observe wildlife and natural vegetation. Watch nesting sea turtles, fish for tarpon and venture into the rainforest.
Nicaragua is a narrow country with beaches on both east and west coasts. Inland, see volcanoes, islets and old Spanish cathedrals. Stay in Granada to kayak on Lago Nicaraugua and visit the Mombacho Volcano.
In Panama, learn about the long and difficult path to the construction of the 48-mile (77-kilometer) Panama Canal. Watch huge ships move through the locks of the 100-year-old structure that enables a marine “shortcut” between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Enjoy the variety of cuisines across the countries. Sample fresh seafood, stuffed empanadas, peppery sauces and desserts made from sweetened milk.
If you’re staying in any Central American country for a lengthy period, take an immersion language program in Spanish at the beginning of your travels. Since Spanish is the primary language for the entire region, you will be able to speak with friendly local residents as you cross borders between countries.