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 ZooBelize CityPlacencia PeninsulaTurneffe Islands Atoll
Altun Ha Archaeological SiteThe Cayo District’s Archaeological SitesLighthouse Reef Atoll and the Blue HoleMountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve
Ambergris Caye & Hol Chan Marine ReserveCockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary & Jaguar PreserveCaracol Natural Monument ReservationLamanai 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 TikalAntigua GuatemalaQuetzaltenangoSemuc Champey
Lake Atitlán (Lago de Atitlán)Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala CityPacaya Volcano, AntiguaChichicastenango Market
Livingston on the Caribbean CoastMuseo Ixchel del Traje Indigena (Museum of Mayan Costumes), Guatemala City Archaeological SiteGrutas de Lanquín (Lanquín Caves)Monument ReservationMonterrico 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 IslandsCayos CochinosUtila, Bay IslandsLake Yojoa
Dolphin Encounter, Roatán Institute for Marine SciencesMuseum of Mayan Sculpture, CopánRío Plátano Biosphere Reserve, Mosquito CoastParque Nacional Jeanette Kawas
Museum of National Identity, TegucigalpaLa Tigra National ParkCopán Ruins Archeological SiteLancetilla 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 SalvadorLa PalmaSuchitotoJoya de Cerén
Santa AnaTazumalLake CoatepequeLa Libertad
Ruta de las FloresRuta de PazSan MiguelCerro 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 OmetepeCorn IslandsMasaya VolcanoCerro Negro
GranadaLake NicaraguaSan Juan del SurLeon
Bosawas Biosphere ReserveMombacho Volcano Nature PreserveReserva Natural MiraflorSomoto 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 ParkArenal Volcano (Volcan Arenal)Monteverde and the Cloud ForestsTortuguero National Park
DominicalTamarindoJacoLa Paz Waterfall Gardens
Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National ParkThe National Theater in San JoseIrazu Volcano National ParkBraulio 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 CanalSunset CoastSan Blas IslandsPlaya Coronado
Beaches of Bocas Del ToroHiking & Nature in BoqueteCasco Viejo in Panama CitySurf at Santa Catalina
Santa Fe and San FranciscoKitesurf at Punta ChameSwim in the River at Los CangilonesParque Nacional Coiba