Around the World with HOLR: Central America (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras)

This week in Around the World with HOLR, we explore Central America taking a closer look at the nations of Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Honduras. We have compiled a list of the top 12 locations and things to do while visiting each of these wonderful countries.


Beautiful Belize brims with bountiful natural beauty and is a hot spot for eco-tourists. With the world’s second-largest barrier reef, the diving and snorkeling scenery is absolutely stunning. Additionally home to the dense jungles of the Yucatan peninsula with howler monkeys and jaguars. The landscape ranges from mountain pine forests to palm-fringed beaches featuring bonefish flats, rivers, numerous caves, and coral atolls which are rimmed by fish-rich reefs. The people here and the historic significance of the country incorporates Mayans; Mennonites; English; Creoles; Mestizos; and the Garifuna people. As a previous British Colony, the language widely spoken is English. There are many Mayan cultural activities and relatively untapped archaeological sites here. Here are our top 12 locations in Belize:

The Belize Zoo Belize City Placencia Peninsula Turneffe Islands Atoll
Altun Ha Archaeological Site The Cayo District’s Archaeological Sites Lighthouse Reef Atoll and the Blue Hole Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Ambergris Caye & Hol Chan Marine Reserve Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar Preserve Caracol Natural Monument Reservation Lamanai Archaeological Reserve


Though a cultural hot spot in Central America, Guatemala offers a diverse physical experience from tropical jungles, active volcanoes, mountain lakes, cloud forests, coral reefs, and beautiful beaches. While you may also enjoy the gorgeous colonial architecture and cobbled streets of Antigua Guatemala or explore the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Lastly, there are many picturesque small towns in the highlands and on the shores of the beautiful Lake Atitlan which offers a unique experience. Here are our top 12 locations in Guatemala:

Mayan Ruins of Tikal Antigua Guatemala Quetzaltenango Semuc Champey
Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán) Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala City Pacaya Volcano, Antigua Chichicastenango Market
Livingston on the Caribbean Coast Museo Ixchel del Traje Indigena (Museum of Mayan Costumes), Guatemala City Archaeological Site Grutas de Lanquín (Lanquín Caves)Monument Reservation Monterrico and the Biotopo Monterrico-Hawaii (Nature Reserve)


This diamond in the rough dazzles travelers with the diverse wildlife and the sheer beauty of the landscape. Like many of the other countries on this list, you will find idyllic Caribbean beaches, jungles, and bird-rich lakes. However, a little more unique to Honduras is the Mosquito coast shared between Honduras and Nicaragua. Honduras holds some of the finest Mayan sites in the world, in addition to the beautiful Bay Islands, ringed by vibrant coral reefs. Other famous adventures include birding tours, rafting trips, dolphin encounters, and a chance to swim with gentle whale sharks – a life-changing experience. Here are our top 12 locations in Honduras:

Roatán, Bay Islands Cayos Cochinos Utila, Bay Islands Lake Yojoa
Dolphin Encounter, Roatán Institute for Marine Sciences Museum of Mayan Sculpture, Copán Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, Mosquito Coast Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas
Museum of National Identity, Tegucigalpa La Tigra National Park Copán Ruins Archeological Site Lancetilla Botanical Gardens

El Salvador

Although the smallest country on this list, El Salvador boasts incredible national parks, long stretches of beautiful beaches, and numerous inland attractions. El Salvador is also one of the safest countries in Central America. The country has a unique history compared to its neighbors, as more and more tourists begin to explore this small paradise. Here are our top 12 locations in El Salvador:

San Salvador La Palma Suchitoto Joya de Cerén
Santa Ana Tazumal Lake Coatepeque La Libertad
Ruta de las Flores Ruta de Paz San Miguel Cerro Verde National Park


As the largest country on the list, Nicaragua has the most untouched wildlife and natural beauty than the rest. This place is an Outdoor adventure enthusiast’s dream with crater lakes in dormant volcanoes or sledding down mountains of ash. Nicaragua is also home to many protected reserves which houses everything from jaguars to howler and white-faced monkeys and hundreds of species of birds. The surf scene is also plenty with its long coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific. While the rest of Nicaragua is speckled with colorful colonial architecture and churches. Here are our top 12 locations in Nicaragua:

Isla Ometepe Corn Islands Masaya Volcano Cerro Negro
Granada Lake Nicaragua San Juan del Sur Leon
Bosawas Biosphere Reserve Mombacho Volcano Nature Preserve Reserva Natural Miraflor Somoto Canyon National Monument

Costa Rica

This small nation can be traversed in 4 hours. Some sections are so close, you can even dip your toes in the Caribbean then walk across the country and swim in the Pacific Ocean at the very same hour. Like many of the other countries on this list, Costa Rica is filled with wonderful natural attractions of volcanoes, beaches, cloud forests, and unique wildlife. The capital city, San Jose homes the country’s best museums and lovely squares. While many of the best treasures lie in the forests and small coastal villages. Strongly recommended to check out both the vibe in the Pacific coast and the Caribbean. Here are our top 12 locations in Costa Rica:

Manuel Antonio National Park Arenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal) Monteverde and the Cloud Forests Tortuguero National Park
Dominical Tamarindo Jaco La Paz Waterfall Gardens
Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park The National Theater in San Jose Irazu Volcano National Park Braulio Carrillo National Park


Containing one of the world’s most important canals, this small country packs a diverse range of landscapes, interesting towns and cities, and the metropolis that has become Panama City. Like other countries here you will find beautiful beaches and islands, and a wonderful mountainous interior with coffee plantations, small towns, waterfalls, wildlife, and some hiking trails to explore. With much to do in the City Centre and out, there are many adventure and relaxation opportunities in Panama. Here are our top 12 locations in Panama:

Panama Canal Sunset Coast San Blas Islands Playa Coronado
Beaches of Bocas Del Toro Hiking & Nature in Boquete Casco Viejo in Panama City Surf at Santa Catalina
Santa Fe and San Francisco Kitesurf at Punta Chame Swim in the River at Los Cangilones Parque Nacional Coiba