Bucket List Busters: Best Things to do in Central America

Bucket List Busters: Best Things to do in Central America

Encompassing seven countries and two coastlines, Central America plays host to more than 100 volcanoes and is home to over 17,000 species of wildlife. The list of adventure activities and cultural attractions is equally extensive, and visiting the continent should be a bucket-list addition for every intrepid traveller and wildlife lover. History buffs will be inspired by Guatemala’s ancient Mayan ruins, underwater-explorers should flock to Belize’s colourful reefs, while shutterbugs can capture the astonishing wildlife in Costa Rica’s jungles. If any of these sound like your ideal getaway, read on for our list of the best things to do in Central America…


  1. Zip-line Through Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
  2. Discover Guatemala’s Lago de Atitlán
  3. Explore Belize’s Underwater World
  4. Volcano-board in Nicaragua
  5. Visit Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica
  6. Marvel at Mayan Ruins in Tikal National Park, Guatemala
  7. Island Hop between the Islets of Granada, Nicaragua


Zip-line Through Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

While there’s no shortage of zip-lines around the world, this adrenaline-inducing activity was invented in Costa Rica, making it the ultimate place to take your turn at soaring through the sky. Located along the Cordillera de Tilarán, the forest canopy of Monteverde Cloud Forest features a safe and extensive network of zip lines, making this easily one of the best things to do in Central America. The Cloud Forest boasts an abundance of biodiversity, welcoming 100 mammal species, 400 types of bird and over 2,500 plant variations, so keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you embark on your aerial adventure.


Discover Guatemala’s Lago de Atitlán

Guatemala’s Lago de Atitlán holds the title of Central America’s deepest lake and its turquoise waters are bordered by looming volcanoes, foliaged hillsides and local communities. A visit here can include a bit of everything; kayak across the lake itself, practice yoga overlooking it or visit some of the nearby villages for a taste of authentic Guatemalan culture and traditional indigenous life.


Lake Atitlan, Guatemala


Explore Belize’s Underwater World

Colourful sea creatures and spectacular coral reefs abound in Belize, a favourite destination for avid divers. Stretching the length of the country’s coastline, the Lighthouse Reef is the longest barrier reef in the world and the location of the famed Blue Hole, where divers can submerge more than 100 feet into the year-round warm water of the marine sinkhole. The necklace of cayes which decorate the reef offer beach retreats and barefoot luxury in-between dives.




Volcano-board in Nicaragua

One of the most out-there pursuits on our list of the best things to do in Central America is volcano-boarding, an activity unique to Nicaragua’s Cerro Negro. Hike up the side of the volcano, located in the Cordillera de los Maribios mountain range just outside León, before surfing down the sooty terrain atop a sled-like board.


Visit Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica

Arenal is undoubtedly the most famous of Costa Rica’s 60 plus volcanoes, and although it has been in a resting phase since 2010, the stratovolcano is still very much active. While it’s not possible to hike to the top, the national park surrounding it is rich in natural beauty and teeming with activities. Visit the nearby town of La Fortuna, where you’ll find numerous volcanic hot springs and hiking routes through the lava fields. Trek to La Fortuna Waterfall for a dip in its natural pool before spending the evening soaking in one of nature’s hot tubs.


Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica


Marvel at Mayan Ruins in Tikal National Park, Guatemala

Once home to a pre-Columbian Mayan civilisation, Guatemala’s Tikal National Park features impressive ruins and intricate carvings which showcase their extraordinary stone carving abilities. The ancient city was likely called ‘Yax Mutal’ and features structures which date back to the fourth century BC, including the ceremonial Lost World (Mundo Perdido) Pyramid and the Temple of the Grand Jaguar. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, allow yourself to be transported back in time by the time-worn temples and symbolic engravings of the ancient citadel, hidden deep within the Guatemalan rainforest.


Tikal National Park, Guatemala


Island Hop between the Islets of Granada, Nicaragua

Dotted across Lake Nicaragua you’ll find 365 tiny islands, forming an archipelago known as the Islets of Granada. This idyllic string of islands was formed from the ash of the Mombacho Volcano more than 25,000 years ago, and while some of them remain deserted, boutique hotels are beginning to crop up across some of the larger ones. Boat trip between the islands to learn about the diverse wildlife and see some breath-taking sunsets, or opt for a longer stay on one of these specks of volcanic confetti.


Written by Luisa Watts