If there’s any region in the world that’s quickly moving up in the ranks for me, it’s Central America. Although Europe (and then Asia) were my true first travel loves, the sunny skies, warm weather, interesting cultures, and—perhaps most importantly for me—close proximity of Central America to my home country is making it a favorite in my vacation repertoire.
Coming from a northern clime, there’s positively no better time to visit Central America than in the winter. Escape the cold & shake your winter blues with one of the these amazing Central American destinations…
While it’s hardly a household name yet, I can’t help but recommend a visit to the lovely highland town of Boquete in Panama, one of my favorite Central American countries. This town is a huge favorite for expats and it’s not hard to see why!
The weather in Boquete is brilliant all year round. Unlike other destinations in Panama, it doesn’t get so blazing hot (like Bocas del Toro) that you can’t sleep or breathe during midday. Nor does Boquete ever get too cool. Like Medellin in Colombia, Boquete is a city of “eternal spring,” with temperatures hovering in the mid-70s to 80s.
And it’s certainly not just about the pleasant temperatures here.
In spite of its laid-back nature, Boquete isn’t a place where you’ll ever go bored. Boquete’s positioned itself as Panama’s go-to adventure destination. Activities are plentiful ranging from adrenaline-pumping zip-lining high up above the town in the cloud forest & visiting coffee plantations to hiking in search of colorful bird & tackling the summit of Volcan Baru, a volcano that’s Panama’s highest point.
El Tunco, El Salvador
Backpackers and surfers have long known about El Tunco, a small town along the Pacific coast of El Salvador. Even with its “growing” popularity, El Tunco doesn’t feel overly commericalized, and is still relatively unknown to the masses. There’s no doubt that a winter trip here, even if only for a couple days on route to other Central American hot spots, is well worth your while.
Most of the travelers passing through El Tunco are interested in one thing: hittin’ the waves. There are some incredible surfing spots around El Tunco for both intermediate and advanced surfers (beginners may find the rocky areas are little too challenging).
Even non-surfers, however, will love staying here. El Tunco offers a small local feel with plenty of restaurants catering to a variety of whims. The sunsets along the Pacific Ocean here are also among the finest you’ll see just about anywhere in the world.
On top of that, with El Salvador’s smaller size, El Tunco’s one of the safest places to base yourself to explore the country more in depth on day trips. Other top places to visit in El Salvador like the Ruta de Las Flores, Santa Ana Volcano and Lake Coatepeque are just a short ride away from El Tunco.
If there’s only one city you make it to in Guatemala, it’s gotta be Antigua. This lovely Spanish colonial town, nestled among three volcanoes, is among the prettiest in all of Central America, and is must-visit when scouring the region.
There’s plenty of things to do & see in Antigua from slipping in & out of historic churches to digging into the local culture through the city’s markets. Outside Antigua other activities like visiting coffee plantations and hiking up active volcanoes (yep, you heard that right!) are possible.
If you want a little extra bonus for your winter trip to Central America, Antigua is one of the best places in the region for learning Spanish. Many of the language schools in Antigua will arrange homestays for students to give you a little extra practice speaking with & getting to know the locals.