5 Central American Vacations To Take This Winter

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If the forecast of snow and ice has got you down, then it’s time to pack your swimsuit and head south to Central America. Why put up with the winter chill when you can find a secluded beach in Belize or snorkel in the warm waters off the coast of Honduras? There’s no time like the present to take a fantastic winter vacation to one of these five tropical Central American getaways.

Swim with the Sharks in Ambergris Caye

Belize

Clear blue water with homes on shore with palm trees in Belize Cayes
Credit: Simon Dannhauer/ Shutterstock

Belize has become a popular winter getaway. And if you’re looking for an out-of-the-way tropical destination, then you'll love Ambergris Caye. This gorgeous island off the coast of Belize is home to remarkable mangrove swamps and the second-largest barrier reef system in the world. The cay is a divers' haven with 4 of the 5 best dive sites in Belize. You can swim with sharks and rays and relax on breathtaking private beaches. The food is fresh and tasty, and the best place to gobble up some of the freshest sushi around is Blue Water Grill, complete with breathtaking views of the reef. A stay in a beachfront thatched-roof cabana at Ramon's Village Resort will recharge your batteries.

Commune with Nature in Monteverde

Costa Rica

Hanging Bridge, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Credit: J. L. Levy/ Shutterstock

Costa Rica’s cloud forest is the perfect winter vacation for the nature lover in all of us. Monteverde is tucked in the mountains of northwestern Costa Rica, and offers a rich and diverse ecosystem that’s a result of the constant clouds that hang low over the vegetation.  Forget shoveling snow and hike to beautiful waterfalls, spot abundant wildlife in the nature reserves, and lose yourself in the amazing butterfly gardens. If you're up for an adventure, have one of the local guides take you on a night hike to hang out with some friendly sloths, or zipline through the canopy. You’ll work up an appetite while hanging out in the trees, so check out the San Lucas Treetop Dining Experience, an intimate and unique experience that offers Costa Rican farm-to-table fusion dinner served among the trees. Stay at the rustic “Tica House” designed Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast Monteverde, and enjoy unforgettable views from your private patio.

Enjoy the Solitude of Caye Caulker

Belize

Aerial view of Caye Caulker Island in Caribbean Sea
Credit: photosounds/ Shutterstock

If you are ready to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and just need some peace and quiet, catch a 45-minute water tax ride from Belize to the tiny island of Caye Caulker. This narrow island is truly a paradise far from the cruise ship crowds. The serenity of the cay comes from the fact that cars are not allowed on the island; people get around on bikes and electric golf carts. The motto of the island is “go slow,” and you’ll be reminded of that wherever you go. There are tons of water-related activities, like snorkeling with manatees in the Blue Hole or kayaking through the serene mangrove swamps. When you get hungry, just stop by any eatery, and you’ll be offered Caye Caulker’s specialty—fry jacks—a fried tortilla stuffed with scrambled egg, cheese, and bacon. Book a night at the best spot on the beach at the Seaside Villas. You can sit on your veranda at sunset and watch the gulls flock to the fishing boats as they come in with their daily haul of fresh fish.

Explore the Mayan ruins of Flores

Guatemala

Maya Tikal Ruins in Guatemala
Credit: Simon Dannhauer/ Shutterstock 

Flores is a scenic little village located on a small island on Lake Peten Itza in Guatemala. The island is small (you can walk it in 20 minutes), but it’s packed with some amazing views and tons to do. Its proximity to Tikal National Park has made it a backpacker's haven, and many use Flores as a gateway to the surrounding Mayan ruins of Tikal and Uaxactún. Visitors should also check out Ixpanpajul Natural Park, where you can watch for local wildlife as you hike through the dense jungle, swing through the forest on a zip-line, and walk along the sky way.

Lay on the Beaches of West Bay, Roatan

Honduras

Beach and crystal clear water with cliffside in West Bay, Roatan
Credit: Adventure_Photo/ iStock

Even though West Bay tops many travel magazines' lists of must-see beaches in the Caribbean and Central America, it remains surprisingly under frequented.  Featuring a mile of white sand, palm trees, and crystal-clear calm waters, this beach remains relatively empty so you'll have plenty of space to stretch out and enjoy. The coral reef comes within a few yards off the shore, making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or catching a charter boat to explore nearby islands. After a day of relaxation or fun in the sun, head to the most popular place to eat around, Beachers. This iconic hot spot is famous for its seafood and views of the Caribbean from its patio. To make this winter vacation complete, stay at the Infinity Bay Spa & Beach Resort, where all of their rooms boast balconies with views of the pool, exotic gardens, and turquoise water.

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