Central America, without stating the obvious, is the region between southern North America and Mexico, and South America. This delightful part of the world comprises seven different countries: Panama, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. Be sure to take a hat and some sun lotion with you when you travel to them because it gets mightily warm out there.
This post takes a look at Central America and some of the best places to visit by boat in this magnificent region. All those shores… all those ports… to not jump in a boat and experience them is to miss out. First on the list, Bahia Jaltepeque, in El Salvador.
Bahia Jaltepeque, El Salvador
El Salvador is a land of colonial cities, black sandy beaches, Mayan ruins, and more. One of the best ways to enter it is via Bahia Jaltepeque. Ideally, you should have a local guide with you to help you navigate sandbars and weather the breakers. Once you’ve made a safe entry, you can anchor securely in the lagoon and Bahia Jaltepeque will provide you with a superb starting point from which you can begin to explore the rest of the country.
El Salvador itself is the smallest country in Central America. You can drive from the western border with Guatemala to the eastern one with Honduras in just five hours. The backbone of the country comprises more than twenty volcanoes and the capital, San Salvador, offers plenty of shopping opportunities, which you’ll welcome if you start to miss your commodities. Getting groceries entails jumping in a dinghy for twenty minutes to visit the nearest store at San Luis la Herradura.
San Blas Islands, Panama
The San Blas Islands are a common destination on the bucket list of anyone visiting Central America, and with good reason. The islands provide you with plenty of scopes to get out on a boat, which you can do with a company like Borrow a Boat.com and sail from island to island.
While out on the water, you may wish to go snorkeling or stand-up paddleboarding, which it’s perfectly possible to do on your visit to the islands. If you happen to be traveling from Panama City, don’t believe any horror stories you hear about long, uncomfortable journeys. They’re most likely exaggerated. The journey is quick, comfortable and you’ll be glad you made it when you reach the islands.
Puerto Limón, Costa Rica
Puerto Limón lies on the eastern coast of Costa Rica and isn’t a tourist destination, which is a good thing, giving you the opportunity to experience life here at its most authentic. In fact, Puerto Limón is a little different from the other cities in Costa Rica in so far as that it maintains a slightly stronger Afro Caribbean culture. The local languages are English, Spanish and Caribbean patois.
If you happen to be visiting the Día de las Culturas, which takes place on Columbus Day, you’re in for a treat. There are parades and lots of music and the atmosphere is generally a thrilling one. On any other day, though, you’ll still experience a lively social scene in the evenings. If you’ve come more to explore than to party, you can head out to the Tortuguero National Park or the Cahuita National Park and use Puerto Limón as a place to stopover.
Puerto Quetzmal, Guatemala
Puerto Quetzal, in Guatemala, is one of the country’s main ports and is a gateway to exploring the rest of Guatemala. While sailing over, you should be sharpening up your haggling skills for use in the local markets, where haggling is all part of the game. Traders will be most surprised if you just hand over the money without negotiating the price.
Make a short commute from Puerto Quetzal and you can visit Antigua Guatemala, which is the former capital of the country and has long been a World Heritage Site. The city has experienced a turbulent history, having had to rebuild itself several times after political turmoil and natural disasters, and is well worth a visit to see how it has turned itself around.
Roatán, Honduras, is a long, thin island, but an absolutely splendid one. A diverse coral reef fringes just about the entire coastline. So, you’ll find it heaving with tropical fish. So if you like to go diving and experience sea life up close, Roatán can make it happen.
The island is less of a budget tourism destination than neighboring Utila. There are parts of it, such as the wild eastern part of the island. That remain relatively untouched and are ideal for exploration. Over on the western side, meanwhile, the Carambola Botanical Gardens offer well-kept trails through 40 acres of protected forest that extend up the hillside of Carambola Mountain. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Utila from the top.
Getting out and about feels like too much hard work. Though, it’s always possible to just laze around on the white sandy beach of West Bay and soak up the sun.
Central America is a stunning region. No one would blame you for hopping onto a boat and getting out there to explore it. Several of its locations offer you a gateway to the wider destination country or create scope for you to travel from island to island and get the most out of your trip. Seize every chance you get to make it happen.