This is the second part of the Kid-Friendly Natural Wonders in Central America series. In this article, you will find information about Gringa Traveling Mom’s top natural destinations of Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. For information about Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize take a look at part 1.
If you do even the laziest search about things to do in Central America, you will notice that most of those things are definitely in and around the many forests and other natural beauties. But with so many to choose from, it can be really hard to narrow them down. That is why I came up with a list of only three per country that my family has visited and loved.
Kid-Friendly Natural Wonders in Central America
1. Coral Reef (Roatan and Utila): These two islands, as well as the ones surrounding them, are part of the second largest barrier reef in the world called the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Activities for families in this area include hiking, snorkeling, cruising, and diving.
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2. La Tigra National Park: This park is located towards the center of the country. It is an extension of land dedicated to protecting the tropical cloud forests and all of the animal species living in it. You can access easily from Tegucigalpa City. Once you get to the visitors’ center, ask for information about its eight hiking trails to decide which is the right one for your family.
3. Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve: This is a large portion of land near the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Due to its kind of forest and the number of endangered species living in it, UNESCO named it a World Heritage in Danger zone. Rafting is popular in the river but it is not recommended for young kids. But that is not the only thing to do in it, you will find tours to archaeological sites that are in it and hiking tours along the forest.
1. Masaya: I have mentioned this in a previous article. That is because you don’t find an active volcano where you can drive all the way up to the crater. There are a few places where it is safe to get close to a crater and even fewer where you get to do this by car. Trust me, kids love the idea of looking into the depths of the earth.
2. Cerro Negro Surfing: The volcano is right next to the city of Leon, which is extremely well known and has tons of hotels and companies offering the sand surfing tour. During this tour, you basically hop on a board and surf down the slopes of the volcano. There are slopes with different lengths and inclinations so people of different ages can do this.
3. Mombacho Cloud Forest: This is a stunning reserve located high on the Mombacho volcano. This one is right next to the also popular tourist destination of Granada. Another stunning place to go hiking. Added bonus: you can search for monkeys overhead in the trees. You can spend all day walking on its trails and set up a picnic for lunch.
1. Monteverde: The place is known for its stunning cloud forest reserve. The huge hanging bridges, canopy tours, wildlife viewing, and hiking are the people’s favorite activities. There is also a butterfly garden where you can see hundreds of the flying creatures.
2. Tortuguero Beach: This is a small Caribbean town located right in a conservation area. It is famous for its mangroves and for being an important nesting site for sea turtles. It is one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. In this place, you can go hiking, on boat tours, see the sea turtles at the conservation center and have some fun at the beach.
3. Poas Volcano National Park: This is a similar volcano to Santa Ana in El Salvador which I mention in part 1. The difference is that its turquoise pool inside of the crater seems to be hotter because it is constantly releasing gas. There is a trail that is about 0.5km long that takes you to the lookout point. From here you get an amazing view of the crater.
1. Darién Wilderness: This is considered to be one of the last untouched wilderness regions in the Americas. The place is located in an area that isn’t as easy to access as some of the other places I mentioned. The good thing is that this makes it heaven for bird watchers. Indigenous tribes still live in it and you can visit them. There are also a few lodges within the park where you can stay to make this multi-day experience.
2. The Kuna Yala Comarca: If you prefer a beach destination you can check out this area with over 350 islands that offer white sanded beaches, mangroves, small indigenous communities. This is the perfect way to experience the true Caribbean, without huge resorts blocking the views, instead, the beach is lined by jungle.
3. Natural Metropolitan Park: If you don’t want to have to go that far from more developed areas, this is the perfect place for you. Panama City is the only metropolis with a tropical rainforest within its boundaries. There is a visitors’ center, rooms for meetings, a store, and three main hiking trails. You can inquire at the entrance about the best one for your family.