Sexy Central America
Gracefully bridging the Old World mystique in the south and the modern wonders of the north, Central America doubles up on the attractions. Ancient Mesoamerican heritage sites are hidden amongst the lush interior landscape, while offshore, the islands of the Caribbean are tropical gems in a league of their own.
Though not technically a continent, Central America is unique from its neighbours. Linguistically, they lean more towards the predominantly Spanish-speaking south, with the exception of Belize.
Prior to the arrival of British colonisers and Spanish conquistadores to stake their respective flags, Mesoamerica had already housed several generations of advanced cultures, from the Olmecs, Mayans, and through to the Aztecs. Remnants of these complex societies can be found in fascinating ruins and the plentitude of museums across the region.
Central America is a mixed bag of tricks, a vibrant blend of colourful culture, a sylvan interior, mystic ruins, and stunning islands. El Salvador, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua are all Central American nations worth exploring, but the facilities developed to cater specifically for visitors have made the countries of Belize, Costa Rica into destination hotspots.
Interesting Facts about Central America:
- Belize is the only country in the region that does not border the Pacific Ocean, and the only Central American country with English as their official language.
- It was a British – Sir Nicholas Lawes – that planted the first coffee bush in Jamaica in 1730, a country which has since given back to the world its Blue Mountain roast.
There are few countries in the world that countless others haven't discovered before, but Belize is one that manages to maintain an intimate vibe at its attractions.
The former capital of Belize City is where the majority of visitors touch down, a bustling seaside town with myriad landlubber activities to entertain cruise guests who disembark at the busy port of call.
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef – the 3rd longest in the world – fringes the length of Belize's Caribbean coastline. Where there is coral, there are little fish in all shades of Crayola colours, and where they are little fish, there are even bigger sea creatures. Of course, a riot of colours and interesting marine life on display can only mean a diver's playground.
The Great Blue Hole, a collapsed sinkhole, provides an intriguing exploration opportunity for dive enthusiasts, while the shallow reef offers ample sights to keep the snorkelers mesmerised.
The highest waterfall in Central America cascades down the Hidden Valley Falls, and elsewhere in the jungle, visitors can zip through canopy tours, kayak down meandering rivers, and explore mysterious caves where the Mayans once performed rituals.
Temple ruins and former cities once inhabited by the ancient culture can also be visited, with Caracol being the most well known, with bragging rights including triumph over mega-city Tikal in neighbouring Guatemala.
With over a quarter of the country deemed national parks and reserves, Costa Rica is like a massive zoo, housing 4% of the world's plant and animal species and one of the first countries to embrace eco-tourism.
Add to that mixture a pinch of colourful culture, a dollop of fine beaches, a generous peppering of volcanoes, and voilà – this is the beauty of Costa Rica in a nutshell.
Nicoya Peninsula boasts several beaches, varying in vibe from surfer cool to artistic chic and family friendly. The fresh sea air and the active beach lifestyle may very well have something to do with why this peninsula is 1 in 5 regions in the world where it's common for citizens to live a healthy life past 100 years old.
Caribbean-dotting Tortuguero is one of Costa Rica's most visited islands, with hiking trails, canal tours, and a handful of other activities if visitors are able to drag themselves away from the clear ocean waters.
On a more tumultuous front, mother nature flexes its muscles with active Arenal Volcano providing mini firework displays every night and knocks fire red rocks tumbling down its slopes. Dormant volcanoes provide a more sleepy attraction, with emerald water residing in sleepy craters.
Villa Holidays in Central America
Central America is a multi faceted destination, home to the biodiversity and ancient cultures that the Mesoamerican region is famed for, and boasts the caliber of beaches and islands that the Caribbean is world renowned for. Choosing a villa rental for your next holiday ensures that the accommodation of choice will be on par with the inspiring surroundings.
Travel & Transport
All Central American countries have a national carrier, with most arrivals landing in the respective capitals of each country. The region has a convenient network of flight routes, and many of the more popular Caribbean islands also have their own airstrip.