With chilled-out Caribbean vibes on one side and the monster Pacific swells on the other, Central America is perched between the most heavenly tropical beaches. These sun-drenched powdery sands sculpt a golden frame of a treasure chest of cultures and lush rain and cloud forests full of life. Let us take you to the most beautiful places on earth, where the world can’t find you….
Nicaragua: Colonial gems and authentic culture
Would you rather explore something new than follow the well-worn tourist trails? Then come to friendly “off the beaten track” Nicaragua. This country offers numerous natural attractions such as the many volcanoes with impressive flora and fauna but also beautiful beaches against a wall of rainforest. You’ll find a surprising variety of exotic animals, including spider, howler and capuchin monkeys, deer and an abundance of native migratory birds and reptiles, and endless sandy beaches visited by nesting sea turtles throughout the year. The big barrels of the Pacific coast are revered in surfing circles, while the clear waters of the Corn Islands are excellent for snorkeling.
What really sets Nicaragua apart from neighboring Costa Rica is its Spanish colonial and indigenous culture. The elegant streetscapes of Granada, Nicaragua’s best-preserved colonial city, have enchanted travelers with their architectural grace for centuries. The city boasts a meticulously restored cathedral, a well-maintained plaza, and perfectly kept mansions that shelter lush courtyards. The much less polished León offers a different colonial experience, where crumbling 300-year-old houses and churches are interspersed with revolutionary murals and architectural masterpieces house stores on the corner. Yet Nicaragua’s greatest attraction is probably the charm, authenticity and hospitality of its proud and vibrant inhabitants. No matter how far you go, you’ll always find friendly locals willing to share their culture with strangers.
Costa Rica: Unprecedented natural beauty
Costa Rica is known for its sustainable tourism; in a country with so much natural beauty, great value is placed on its protection. The country is largely covered in rainforest and cloud forest and has an incredible amount of bird species, special mammals, reptiles and butterflies. A tour of Costa Rica is a must for any nature lover!
Due to the relatively small surface area of Costa Rica, the various attractions are easy to combine. This makes traveling through Costa Rica very enjoyable. For example, there is El Arenal, one of the most active volcanoes in the world, where you have a great chance to see the red-hot lava flowing in the evening. Then Tortuguero National Park, where you may witness the giant sea turtles laying their eggs on the beach. Or Manuel Antonio National Park, known for its beautiful beaches and wide variety of wildlife, where you may spot the rare squirrel monkey during your hikes.
Birdwatchers will find their eldorado in Parque National Los Quetzales, one of the best parks to spot the unique Quetzal bird. A journey through Costa Rica can not be without a visit to the Monteverde cloud forest, via suspension bridges of up to 35 meters high or abseiling via cables from platform to platform, this is a unique way to see the various animals of this park high in the trees. The Osa Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean is an impressive and wild nature reserve and without a doubt one of the natural pearls of Costa Rica. The protected Corcovado located there is not only one of the country’s most important national parks because of its size and diversity of flora and fauna, Isla Caño in Corcovado Bay is also a fantastic diving destination. Pura naturaleza!
Panama: A barely discovered natural paradise
When we think of Panama, we first of all think of vibrant Panama-City and the famous canal that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and is one of the most important waterways in the world. But Panama has so much more to offer! This narrow country on the border between two continents is an absolute natural paradise that is still barely discovered. Like it’s incredible beaches, cloud forest covered mountain ranges and pristine jungle!
On the Pacific Pearl Islands, you’ll find several beautiful white, black and golden beaches that contrast beautifully with the calm blue and turquoise waters. The islands are covered with tropical forests.
Private Isla Palenque, situated in the Pacific near Chiriqui National Park, is also a must because of its whales, dolphins and most idyllic beaches. Once the island was the scene of sacred ceremonies of indigenous tribes from which it owes the name Palenque (sanctuary). Hundreds of years later, it is still a secluded place where rare primary forest and hundreds of species of plants, flowers and animals are undisturbed. You’ll find only one unique “Untamed” accommodation, Isla Palenque. With only a handful of casitas and a villa in the middle of enchanting jungle, staying here is only for the privileged few.
Bocas del Toro is an archipelago on the Caribbean coast. Here you will find crystal clear waters with beautiful coral reefs, dolphins, palm trees, mangroves and a friendly population. Although Bocas del Toro is the most visited place by tourists in Panama, it has managed to retain its authentic atmosphere.
There are between 350 and 400 small islands counted as the Caribbean San Blas Islands, 50 of which are inhabited by the native Kuna Yala Indians. The Kuna Indians themselves say that for every day of the year there is an island on San Blas. The area can be seen as an autonomous province where the Panamanian government interferes as little as possible. As a result, there is little negative influence on the interesting culture of the Kunas. They have their own language, customs and culture. The clothing of the women is stunning, as is the music and dance. This is a great destination to relax and enjoy sun, sea and beach combined with culture.
The backbone of the country is formed by cloud forest covered mountain ranges where some of the world’s best hotspots for birdwatchers are located and where a rich fauna can be discovered. On the border with the South American continent, you will find a pristine jungle, the famous Darién and its authentic forest dwellers, the Embera.
Travel to Central America and get ready for rich culture, lush rainforests and incredible beaches. Treat yourself to an unparalleled adventure. Where the world can’t find you…
Jozef Verbruggen is Director and Owner of Untamed Travelling. Untamed Travelling is a travel designer that specializes in high-end bespoke travel experiences around the globe.