Central America is a Family Vacation Paradise
PHOTO: Hanging bridges in Costa Rica.
The Caribbean and Mexico are always obvious choices when considering a family vacation south of the border, but expanding your horizons beyond these more popular destinations and into Central America could lead to an unexpected adventure. In this less-peopled region, discover exotic animals and lush flora and fauna in the jungles and on the beaches of these Central America resorts.
Costa Rica is by far the Central America country most recognized for family travel. There are an abundance of family-friendly resorts, several tour operators offer itineraries in the country and airlift is fairly straightforward.
If you are looking for an ideal location within the country to make camp with the clan, try Manuel Antonio National Park. The beachfront location and easy access to the rainforest make it versatile and there are an abundance of high-end hotels in the area as well as vacation rental properties. It also doesn’t hurt that the kids can spend the day chasing frogs or spotting howler monkeys.
Nicaragua is an eco-tourist must-see that is often under-appreciated for its family-friendly options. The country is inexpensive, the locals are friendly, it is extremely safe to travel within its borders and there are a variety of family-friendly accommodations from which to choose.
It’s a country of lakes and volcanoes as well as beaches. Some of the best excursions can be done by four-wheel drive into and around these giant craters where you will see the country’s flora and fauna on display before you and howler monkeys and birds perched in trees above.
The lakeside colonial town of Grenada is an ideal spot for families to vacation but there are also a variety of beach resorts and eco-lodges that are perfect for multigenerational experiences. Of them, Morgan’s Rock Hacienda and Ecolodge is among the most well known.
It’s teeming with sea life, affordable, safe and action-packed. Belize is also the heartland of the Maya with 1,400 recorded sites that include ceremonial temples, structures, artwork, stone and clay. The country is home to one of the world’s largest living barrier reefs and where you will find the Great Blue Hole, which has been ranked as one of the 10 most amazing places on earth by the Discovery Channel.
Travel to Belize is easy from North America and communication is easy — it’s an English-speaking country. There are an abundance of family-friendly properties around the nation and myriad activities from sailing and snorkeling to exploring Maya ruins and caves. Get to know the country’s wildlife at the popular Belize Zoo or zipline through the jungle canopy. There’s probably more to do in Belize than you can tackle in one trip.
Some say that Panama is going to be the next Costa Rica — and they might be right. It has more diverse and less crowded rainforests, beautiful sandy beaches, a wide variety of water sports and a stunning colonial center, not to mention the historic Panama Canal. Adding to its allure, the country uses U.S. dollars as their currency and English is widely spoken. Panama City can be used as a base to explore the country. There are a variety of family-friendly properties, but if you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of city life, set up shop in the Canal Zone, where the Panama Canal, Lake Gatun and the surrounding rainforest overflow with kid-friendly fun.
More by Janeen Christoff
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