Adventure Ideas within Central America

A list of the some of the best adventures to be on a look out for when travelling to Central America.

1. Swim with Whalesharks

(Utila, Honduras or Cozumel, Mexico)

Swimming with Whalesharks

Swimming with Whalesharks

A 20 minute boat ride from downtown Utila and you are in suitable Whaleshark watching waters. Utila is said to be one of the few places on earth where Whalesharks can be spotted all year around. There are definite main seasons though, between the months of March-April and August-September.  For US$20 you can hope on a boat with one of the dive centres for a chance to go snorkeling with these fish (plus a $20 ‘tip’ if you get in the water with a Whaleshark). Tours normally last for about 3-4 hours. Read More Here.

2. Visit Shark Ray Alley

(Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker, Belize)

At Shark Alley you can swim up close and personal with Nurse Sharks and Southern Sting Rays. Tour organisers place feed in the water to attract these animals – then it is up to you to get in there alongside them. Read More Here.

Shark Ray Alley, Belize

3. Learn to Freedive

(Utila, Honduras)

The art of holding your breath for an extended period whilst swimming deep underwater. Sounds like fun no? Freediving is a fast growing sport and a fantastic beginner course is run out of EcoMariners Gunter’s dive shop on Utila (as well as advanced and master courses). Once you have finished there are plenty of opportunities to hone your skills in the rest of Central America and the Caribbean.  Read More Here.

Freediving11

4. Camp Overnight on the Side of a Volcano

(Antigua, Guatemala)

Just outside of the town of Antigua in Guatemala lies Acatenango Volcano – it will take you 8+ hours to scale for which you will be rewarded with views of the sunset and a chance to camp on the side of the volcano. The benefit of climbing this 13,000 foot beast is that you get to look down on it’s neighbour – the smaller active Fuego volcano. We lucked out with a mostly clear day and a Fuego that was showing off with eruptions almost every hour. If you can’t make it to Guatemala, Volcano hiking is also pretty popular in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Read More Here.

Acatenango Volcano

Camping on the side of Acatenango Volcano

5. SCUBA Dive in a Cenote 

(Tulum, Mexico)

Tucked away along the Yucatán Peninsula of south-eastern Mexico is an absolute gem for scuba-divers – thousands of caves and caverns filled with fresh-water, known locally as Cenotes. An amazing new experience for divers who are used to open water salt water diving. The water can get incredibly clear in some of these Cenotes, swimming in such water is described as flying by divers. Read More Here.

Cenote near Tulum, Mexico

Cenote near Tulum, Mexico

6. Explore a Mayan Sacrificial Cave

(San Ignacio, Belize)

An hours drive from the town of San Ignacio in Belize is one of the more unique tourist offerings in this part of the world, Actun Tunichil Muknal. A narrow cave system which according to archaeologists was viewed by ancient Mayans as an entrance to the underworld. Which meant that when things got bad (drought or natural disaster wise), the Mayans would enter the cave to present offerings and sacrifices to their gods (offerings being food in a big ol’ clay pot and sacrifices being of the human variety). Today Actun Tunichil Muknal offers exceptional tours to the small number of tourists that visit it daily. Read More Here.

Inside Actun Tunichil Muknal (the ATM tour)

Inside Actun Tunichil Muknal (the ATM tour)

7. Go Volcano Boarding

(León, Nicaragua)

In 2004 the owner of Leon’s Big Foot hostel rode a picnic table down the slopes of nearby Cerry Negro volcano and a new tourist activity was born. Almost ten years later, and with an improved sit-down toboggan, Leon’s Volcano Boarding is the must-do activity of Nicaragua. Featured in the #2 spot on CNN’s “Thrill Seekers Bucket List” and the #4 spot on Reader’s Digest “10 Death Defying Travel Destinations”, Leon’s Volcano Boarding is an increasingly popular activity, attracting dare-devils from all over trying to break the current speed record of 90 km/h. Read More Here.

Volcano Boarding near Leon8. Sail from Panama to Colombia, via Beautiful Tropical Islands

(San Blas Islands, Panama)

365 low-lying tropical islands waiting to be discovered. Some inhabited by the Indigenous people’s of Panama (the Kuna) – most not. Spend 3 days exploring these islands before 2 days legging it over the open ocean to Colombia, a highlight of many people’s trips. Catch fresh fish for dinner, sail beside dolphins, spends your days lazing under the sun, land on uninhabited tropical islands, at night build fires on empty islands. Read More Here.

Chilling in the San Blas Islands, Panama

9. SCUBA Dive in the Great Blue Hole

(Great Blue Hole, Belize)

The infamous Great Blue Hole – popular for those looking for an otherworldly experience and impressive underwater stalagmites. If you are not that keen on SCUBA Diving, you can also charter a plane and enjoy the Great Blue Hole from above! Read More Here.

Overlooking the Great Blue Hole, Belize

Overlooking the Great Blue Hole, Belize

10. SCUBA Dive with Hammerhead Sharks 

(Cocos Island, Costa Rica)

Located almost 500km (300 miles) off Costa Rica are the Cocos Islands. Famous for its large schools of hammerhead sharks. These islands can only be accessed via sleep aboard boat trips  (lasting up to 8 days and including many dives). And yes, not cheap. Read More Here.

Hammerhead_shark, Cocos_Island,_Costa_Rica
11. Enter the Darien Gap (at least some of the way)

(Darien Gap, Panama)

Central and South America aren’t connected by a nice highway – instead there is 100km stretch of dense rainforest which is looked after by Colombia Rebels and Paramilitary Forces. It might be a little reckless to go entirely into the Darien, but safe trips to the out edges of the Darien can and have been done. Read More Here.
Darien Image1

12. Visit Colombia, on a Tropical Island off the Coast of Nicaragua

(San Andres Island, Colombia)

San Andrés Island is a left over remnant from the days Panama was a part of Colombia. Today this island, located off the coast of Nicaragua, remains Colombian land. So if you want to visit a South American country without all the effort of heading all the way south, here is a good opportunity. Read More Here.

San Andrés Islas
13. Amongst The
Worlds Cheapest SCUBA Diving

(Utila,  Honduras)

The diving in Utila is cheap, amongst the cheapest in the world. Meaning it is a great place to do courses. Not looking forward to paying for your Dive Masters? Consider doing it in Utila because you can get some excellent prices (and a trip overseas at the same time). Read More Here.

Cheap SCUBA Diving in Utila

Cheap SCUBA Diving in Utila

 14. Swim In A Volcanic Crater Lake

(La Fortuna, Costa Rica)

Above the town of La Fortuna lies a dormant Volcano called Cerro Chato. After a decent hike to reach it is possible to swim in this deep emerald pool that fills Chato’s hollowed crater . Read More Here.

Cherro Crater Lake

Crater Lake, Cerro Chato Costa Rica

15. Multi-Day Solo Hiking

(Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica)

Corcovado National Park is considered one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, thanks to the Central and South American wildlife that overlaps here. A little remote, but multi-day solo hiking can let you see some amazing wildlife during the day and stay in rangers stations at night. Read More Here.

Tapir in Corcovado National Park
16. Visit an Indigenous Tribe

(Embera Village or San Blas Islands, Panama)

Panama is home to several different indigenous groups and cultures. Groups include the Guaymí, Ngöbe-BugléBokota and the Kuna (in the San Blas Islands). Some of these groups will allow visitors (pre-arranged). Read More Here for the Embera Village and Here for San Blas Islands.

Panama_Embera0605


17.
Surfing In El Salvador

(La Libertad & Surrounding Beaches, El Salvador)

The surfing in El Salvador comes highly recommended.  Read More Here.

Surfers in El Tunco, El Salvador

Surfers in El Tunco, El Salvador

18. White Water Rafting

(La Ceiba, Honduras)

Rated as the best White Water Rafting in Central America (and cheaper than Costa Rica). The Cangrejal River offers class II, III and IV rapids, amongst lot’s of drops, waterfalls, and narrow passages. Read More Here.

WhiteWaterRafting

19. Motorbike Around A Volcanic Island

(Ometepe Island, Nicaragua)

Omotepe is an island within a massive lake in Nicaragua, made up of two cone-shaped volcanoes. It also makes for a convenient place to go motorcycling. Grab a bike from the main town and the island is yours to explore.  Read More Here.

Motorbike

Photo Credit: Hannah Watkins

20.Visit the Crash Site of a Drug Smuggling Plane

(Utila,  Honduras)

In 2009 a plane running cocaine to the US crashed  on the eastern side of Utila. Today you can find the wreckage of this drug smuggling plane lying amongst thick jungle – ready for you to explore if you wish.  How to get there: Head to the eastern end of the Airport runway, the site is approximately 250m directly north  (if you want to cheat, it lies at the coordinates 16.117345°, -86.874931°). Read More Here.

Overlooking the Island of Utila

Overlooking the Island of Utila

21. Swim Up Close With Green Sea Turtles

(Akumal, Mexico)

Okay so this is one of the least adventurous activities to make the list, but still enough fun to make the list. Just north of Tulum in Mexico is the beach of Akumal. Here it is an almost certainly you will get some swimming time up close with Green Sea Turtles.  Read More Here.

Green Sea Turtles at Akumal

Green Sea Turtles at Akumal

22. Hike Across Panama

(Many Places, Panama)

My impression of Panama is that it is one of the less appreciated countries in Central America. It has natural environment and array of wildlife up there with Costa Rica, some amazing tropical Islands  along its Coastline, many impressive indigenous cultures and the best skyline in Central America. You can hike across the country yourself or if you willing to part with your money, this mob organise tours. Read More Here.

Old Town, Panama City

Old Town, Panama City

 

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