One of the things that Central America does best is to offer amazing natural beauties for adventurous travelers. With so many options for all tastes and difficulty levels, it isn’t hard to find places that families can enjoy safely. Following is a list of a few of the best options in each country.
If you have been following my posts you will already know that my sons, husband and I love national parks, adventure, nature and seeing animals in their natural habitats. Luckily we live in Guatemala, where everywhere you turn there is some natural destination. The rest of Central America is the same, and we have spent years exploring it.
Each country has different natural beauties that we have truly enjoyed and would fully recommend you check out with your family. The list would be too much if I listed all of the places that nature lovers can visit on the region, so I’ll stick to mentioning only three per country.
Natural Wonders in Central America
1. Semuc Champey: This is a group of naturally-formed pools at a place where the river starts going in the ground. The place is gorgeous and surrounded by the forest. It has small pools of all depths, making it great for kids of all ages. Plus it is extremely safe because the current of the river is not strong at all.
2. Atitlan Lake: Ok, I cheated a little bit with this one, because it isn’t just one natural attraction. The lake is just the setup for a ton of fun, family-friendly activities like rock climbing, swimming, hiking, camping, bathing at hot springs and kayaking. There is a good reason why it is one of the most popular destinations in the country. It is much more than just a pretty place.
3. Pacaya Volcano: Yes, it is active, but don’t let the words “active” and “volcano” scare you. First, it isn’t too hard to climb. It takes adults and teens about 1.5 hours at a relaxed pace while stopping at lookout points. Younger kids can also join; you can rent a mule at the visitor’s center so that they can hop on whenever they get tired or to transport the food for your picnic.
1. The Barrier Reef: This one is a little like Atitlan lake. It might be just one destination but because of it, a ton of fun adventures such as snorkeling, diving, cruising, fishing, and swimming are offered. This is one of the largest barrier reefs of the world and in it live all sorts of amazing creatures.
2. Actun Tunichil Muknal: This is a limestone cave near the Chaa Creek in the Cayo District. Its name means “Cave of the Stone Sepulchre.” The cave was used by Mayan towns as a worship place. That’s why you will find ceramic pieces and other artifacts used by them. Plus, National Geographic Society declared it the number one sacred cave in the world. For safety reasons, it is best if you visit it only with teens and not small kids.
3. Mayan King Falls: This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Belize and is located only a short drive away from Placencia. The waterfall is easy to reach, so they do permit kids 5 and older. This is a fun place to spend an afternoon just playing in the water.
1. El Tunco Beach: This is a place that you definitely can’t miss if you love surfing. The beach is known for its huge waves but you don’t have to worry if you come with small kids. There are surf schools that will take you to more tranquil areas where you and your kids can learn safely. This is not a beach for relaxation but for adventure and fun.
2. Los Volcanes National Park: This protected area is home to three small volcanoes. They are Santa Ana, Izalco, and Cerro Verde. It also has a beautiful camping area with bathrooms, cabins and picnic tables with a stunning view of all of the volcano. If you have older, adventurous kids, you might also want to hike up to Santa Ana Volcano. It only takes about one hour and the sulfur lagoon in the center is a great spectacle. (Along with the views!)
3. Lake Coatepeque: This is the lake that you see from the summit of Santa Ana volcano. Activities like kayaking, boat trips, diving, and jet skiing are offered, and of course, you can go for a swim. One thing that I found curious while we were there is that the lake always seemed to be warm.
Stay tuned, because my next post will include the list of the top three natural attractions for families in Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
For now, I’d love to know: how many of these natural beauties you have visited, or want to visit with your family?