Best Beaches in Central America
Central America has reinvented itself as a world-class beach destination and its unfiltered natural beauty is truly unbeatable. From stunning Pacific shorelines to sultry Caribbean isles, Central America’s beaches are the perfect setting for a family vacation or romantic getaway.
In Belize, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, travelers can unwind at legendary beaches and insider hotspots. Get ready to snorkel, swim, and relax where land meets sea in these tropical destinations and, when the urge for adventure strikes, explore mysterious ruins, spectacular dive sites and lush jungles.
Choosing the best beaches in beautiful Central America was no easy feat, but here we narrowed down the most outstanding sun and sand-filled spots.
Ambergris Caye, Belize
Ambergris Caye is a tropical island paradise containing swaying palm trees, colorful sunsets and azure Caribbean waters as well as some of the world’s best beaches. Belize’s largest island has just one town, San Pedro, and it’s completely car-free. It won’t take long to get into a relaxed groove among reggae-loving locals as you sink your toes into the perfect white sand here.
Ambergris Caye (caye means island) is surrounded by astounding reefs that are perfect for snorkeling or scuba diving. It’s home to an amazing coral reef system that’s the second largest in the world. Hol Chan, which means Little Channel in Mayan, and is a natural break on the barrier reef where ocean depth ranges from 3 to 30 feet. Here guests will enjoy seeing the breathtaking myriad of marine life and huge coral garden with flourishing stag horn corals and sea fans. Intrepid travelers can also visit famous Shark Ray Alley- a shallow water snorkel site where guests can swim with harmless nurse sharks and southern stingrays.
While staying on Ambergris Caye, go zip lining through the forest, take fascinating nature walks, sail the Caribbean waters and go cave tubing through Maya caves.
Guanacaste, Costa Rica
Sea meets jungle along this beautiful strip of coast on the Pacific side of Costa Rica.
Guanacaste’s exotic bays, white sand beaches, tropical jungles and rainforest are the perfect place to stay and play. Kensington clients can voyage off of the beaten path and discover the “Texas of Central America,” Guanacaste’s Rio Celeste and Playa Conchal. Swim in the warm tropical waters among dolphin, rays and reef fish or get pampered at a luxury spa.
Guanacaste – like the rest of Costa Rica – is an adventure traveler’s paradise. Explore volcanoes on a private guided tour, take to the waves on a surfboard, get a round of golf in at acclaimed oceanside courses or zipline through the trees. Scuba dive the Catalina Islands or snorkel Playa Conchal and witness an astounding kaleidoscope of colorful sea life. Pura Vida! See our private guided Costa Rica tours here.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
Watch small boats bob at anchor in the harbor as pelicans swoop down to perch on their bows in colorful San Juan del Sur. Though Nicaragua has two spectacular coastlines to choose from, expert beach-hunters migrate to San Juan del Sur near the country’s sunny border with Costa Rica. There are dozens of spectacular remote beaches both north and south of downtown where active surf and stunning rock formations delight beachgoers of all ages.
Brightly coloured San Juan del Sur offers a wealth of options for fun in the sun: snorkeling, surfing, sailing, sportfishing, and sunbathing, along with striking ecological beauty. Stay at the gorgeous eco-lodge at Morgan’s Rock and take your pick from amazing activities including kayaking, surfing, fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, massages, nature hiking and night hiking.
From August to February, observe endangered sea turtles nest in San Juan del Sur’s sands and get involved in their conservation through the local Baby Sea Turtle Encounter program. This activity is a perennial client favorite and a must-see on your next Central America tour.
Bocas del Toro, Panama
Frolic with dolphins and get some R&R island time in the picture-perfect Bocas del Toro. The offshore archipelago is made of 68 islands, many of which would fill a beach bum’s fantasy of the ultimate deserted isle. Embrace the tranquility & overwhelming natural beauty of the Caribbean Sea. The azure waters here are teeming with tropical fish and multicolored reefs. Unwind on quiet white sand beaches and see baby sea turtles in the wild.
Experience an amazing day of swimming, snorkeling, and pure relaxation on a tour to Zapatilla Keys, a group of two uninhabited islands on a coral platform surrounded by sparkling reefs. Located inside the Bastimentos Island National Park, Zapatilla Keys are considered the most beautiful and best Caribbean beaches of the area. These unique beaches feature tall palm trees, white sand, coral reefs and turquoise water.
Boca del Toro’s cloud forests, rain forests, breathtaking mountains and lush valleys provide a stunning backdrop your idyllic Central America tour. Fascinating local culture influenced by seven local Indian tribes, Afroantillian and Spanish Colonial history contribute to a seductive, primitive and unforgettable atmosphere.
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