Diving the world-famous cenotes in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is one of my best ever diving experiences. It is a must!
Louisa, Original Traveller
Sandwiched between two hugely charismatic continents, Central America more than holds its own. Indeed, this relatively small area, stretching from Mexico (pedants - please forgive us for not including so Latin a country in North America) in the north to Panama at the junction with South America is anything but stuck in the middle, with a personality all its own and so vibrant that those who spend time there can't wait to go back. Throw in Cuba, the cultural hub of the Caribbean, and this intoxicating mix only gets better.
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The biggest draw, both geographically and metaphorically, is undeniably magical Mexico, home to idyllic beaches, beguiling cities, extraordinary Mayan culture, a national cuisine that recently earned UNESCO World Heritage status and much, much more.
Mexico remains an all-time Original Travel favourite, and central to Central America's charm, but the region as a whole appeals to the full spectrum of visitors from honeymooners to families, with divers, foodies, culture vultures, adventurers, wildlife buffs and watersports fans in between.
On the subject of favourites, like any decent parents we hate to admit to having any, but for a flavour of the best Central America has to offer, here are a few of the best bits. Mexico doesn't have a complete Mayan monopoly, with Tikal in Guatemala among the very finest sites. Likewise, the colonial cities of Antigua Guatemala and Old Havana are a match for Mexico's finest.
Wildlife also features heavily, with Costa Rica known as one of the most biodiverse places on earth, and Belize a dive destination of note thanks for the second largest reef system in the world. Above the waves (depending on your aptitude) Central America is also a superb surfing and kite-surfing destination, with Costa Rica and Nicaragua particularly fine destinations. Back on dry land there are a whole heap of fun activities to keep adventurous types and families busy, from zip wiring and riding to volcano treks around the region's many active peaks. A raft of seriously romantic boutique hotels across Central America means this is also a great honeymoon destination.
As you can see, there's plenty going on, but the magic sauce that makes the whole place even more delicious is the local population. There's a laidback charm to Central Americans - best summed up by Costa Rica's pura vida or 'pure life' philosophy - that's highly infectious. This is a region that had more than its fair share of troubles in the 80s and 90s - they deserve the peace and (relative) prosperity that have followed, and visitors will also be richly rewarded.