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Matthieu
Avignon, France

Central America, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama

Which Central American country is the coolest for a 1 week long trip?

Looking for a country to spend 1 week in south of Mexico and north of Columbia! Surf and rock climbing would be a must, as well as reasonable budget. Thank you!


21 Answers

top answer by
Ciara from London

I had a blast in Nicaragua, it was definitely my favourite country in Central America. There is a great surf culture on the Pacific Coast in places like San Juan del Sur. You can take a trip out to Isla De Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua to hike some really impressive volcanoes. There is do much more to do I could go on for ages, but to top it off its also incredibly cheap to travel. Enjoy!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
  2. San Juan del Sur (city)
  3. Isla De Ometepe (attraction)
10 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ross from Fort Collins

Hello friend! I can help, I have been through most of Central America. Ok so here's the truth, Mexico Belize Guatemala is an option. It will be more expensive in this area but flights into Cancun are prob the cheapest. It is prob the most beautiful area in C.A. That being said it is very touristy and not very authentic until you reach Guatemala, once in Guatemala it may be a little to authentic lol! I did this trip for Tikal and had a blast.  

Costa Rica is another great option, the most out door activities by far, grat surf, and it's super easy to get around. It is more expensive and not as authentic as it used to be but very comfortable. But I'm going to agree with some others and say Nicaragua would be my pick!  

Let me know what you decide and I can help with itinerary


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Central America (region)
  2. Mexico (country)
  3. Belize (country)
  4. Guatemala (country)
  5. Cancun (city)
  6. Tikal (city)
  7. Costa Rica (country)
  8. Nicaragua (country)
9 thanks


answered by
Anthony from Vancouver

Panama is nice, cheap, safe, well-organized country with lots of different terrain from mountains and waterfalls to surfing beaches on both the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean shores.  If you fly into Panama City (Panama) you take direct daily buses to everywhere from the central bus station, especially popular tourist party spots like Bocas del Toro Island in the north Caribbean area, hike up the Volcán Barú near the town of Boquete in the central mountains or maybe take some of the leisurely boat tours out to the small white sandy island resorts in the Caribbean San Blas Islands. No trip to Panama would be complete without taking the train tour of the Panama Canal to watch the ships navigating the locks. US dollars directly accepted. ATMs take all major bank cards. It helps to know some basic Spanish though since that's the official language although English is commonly spoken too by all the travel and tourist operators.  There are many clean inexpensive hostels located throughout Panama.  Great cheap food. One week is very short to "see it all" though....


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Panama (country)
  2. Panama City (Panama) (city)
  3. Bocas del Toro (region)
  4. Volcán Barú (attraction)
  5. Boquete (city)
  6. San Blas Islands (island)
  7. Panama Canal (city)
7 thankscomments (1)


answered by
Ed from Salt Lake City

Belize has the world's 2nd longest barrier reef so you won't find surfing there, but the snorkeling is great .  The waves only come ashore north of Akumal.  Most of the Yucatan is flat, so the only rock climbing is maybe scrambling up Mayan pyramids where it is allowed.   There is a lot of spelunking (cave tours) because it is limestone.  Much of the terrain in Central America is limestone and volcanics, and much of that is covered by jungle.  I can't really guide you to what you are asking for but I hope elimination of some of the ground may be of help.  I've enjoyed my trips to Yucatan, Belize and ventures into Guatamala to see Calakmuland Tikal, but the reports I get from travelers who have gone on beyond lead me to believe you could spend a week wherever a dart landed and not be disappointed.  Belize is maybe the most expensive country, but you can get by very cheaply, even there.  Costa Rica is probably next most expensive.  Low budget is easy in the whole region, your airfare will probably be half or more of your total expense.  But I don't recall seeing surf boards or meeting anyone down there who came to climb.  The farther south you go more you get out of the Mayan territory, and, of course, the hotter the temps.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Akumal (city)
  2. Calakmul (attraction)
  3. Tikal (city)
5 thanks


answered by
durand from Costa Rica

I'm french and live in Costa Rica. One week is too short to come from france to go to central america (Nicaragua, costa Rica, Panama) if you want to surf. You have to stay at least 12 days 


4 thanks


answered by
Tania from New York City

Nicaragua is amazing.One of our most popular season on www.bookertravels.com, we were there during Xmas time and had a wonderful time. We flew into Managuaand spent the night at Hotel Camino Real Managua near the airport. On the next day, we rented a car and went straight to Popoyo.We spent most of our time staying at a place called Popoyo Beach Lodge which as you can see, is right in front of the beach. And most of our time there was spent surfing up and down the coast.The trip is definitely an adventure. The ride is rough, crossing rivers by car, and trying to pass police stations which are notorious for stopping foreigners for some extra cash. But so worthwhile! Most of the area is underdeveloped, the people are extremely friendly and the beaches are beautiful and clean. After Popoyo, we made a couple of stops which I also recommend: Masaya and Granada (Nicaragua)

We have tons of extra tips are available on http://bookertravels.com/tips/nicaragua-tips/.

Enjoy Nicaragua - if you make it there!



Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
  2. Managua (city)
  3. Hotel Camino Real Managua (hotel)
  4. Popoyo (neighborhood)
  5. Popoyo Beach Lodge (hotel)
  6. Masaya (city)
  7. Granada (Nicaragua) (city)
4 thanks


answered first by
Ian from United Kingdom

I've never been to Central America, however I do know several people who have.  The country they all say to visit, above all else, is Costa Rica - safe, beautiful, interesting.

A quick bit of cross-checking reveals it has good surf at Guanacaste, and there are zip-lines in the rainforest so that suggests that rock-climbing should be possible.

Not sure how much help I am, but it certainly sounds like a country to hone in on though.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (country)
  2. Guanacaste (region)
3 thanks


answered by
Jorge from San Diego

I'm from Nicaragua, though live in the USA; I've also lived/visited GuatemalaCosta Rica. You can't go wrong with any of these places or other Central American countries; for your interests (rock climbing & surfing); I'd lean towards Nicaragua or Costa Rica. The key difference (IMHO) is one is less developed & lower cost than the other. The experiences in Nicaragua tend to be less "packaged", therefore, more adventurous/spontaneous, so bear this in mind as you decide. Enjoy your time there, I'm sure you'll enjoy it !


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
  2. Guatemala (country)
  3. Costa Rica (country)
2 thanks


answered by
Mitch from Kuwait City

I would definitely recommend Panama!  It is just as beautiful as Costa Rica however it is much less expensive.  If you have just 1 week, I would do 2 days in Panama City (Panama)and visit the Panama Canaland a few other highlights, then I would take a short flight to Bocas del Toro and spend the rest of your vacation in the rainforest, beautiful beaches, and around the island communities in this area. I would do 3 nights at Eclypse de Mar Restaurant in an over-the-water bungalow then 3 nights at La Loma Jungle Lodge sleeping in a treehouse in the rainforest. I've been all over the world, and this is one of my top 3 places to visit.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Panama (country)
  2. Costa Rica (country)
  3. Panama City (Panama) (city)
  4. Panama Canal (attraction)
  5. Bocas del Toro (state)
  6. Eclypse de Mar Restaurant (restaurant)
  7. La Loma Jungle Lodge (hotel)
2 thanks


answered by
Jeffrey from Los Angeles

I spent 3 weeks in Belize for our wedding.  We started in Orange Walk to explore some ruins.  We went to San Pedro for the wedding.  You could skip that place, it was nice but it also has the reputation as the "Cancun of Belize"  If you want to go to that area go to Caye Caulker instead.  We then stayed a week at a place in the jungle, right by some river caves.  It was awesome for hiking and playing around in nature.  We then spent a week by Dangriga which had the great beach but also had mountains for climbing.  We did a hike to a huge sink hole where we had to repel 300 feet to the cave bottom where there was its own ecosystem.  Not sure about the surfing but I have to think there is some somewhere in the country.  The whole country is very reasonable but I cant compare it to other Central American countries.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Belize (country)
  2. Orange Walk (state)
  3. San Pedro (city)
  4. Caye Caulker (island)
  5. Dangriga (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Jenna from Scituate

I highly recommend Nicaragua!  I spent a couple of days in San Juan del Sur and loved it.  While I didn't surf or climb, I saw plenty of surfers and mountains around.  There were also lots of cool budget accommodations within walking distance to the beach.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
  2. San Juan del Sur (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Audrey from Philadelphia

Belize is a great option- if you go, definitely check out the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave- incredible Mayan sacred cave!  Not much surfing in Belize, however- Costa Rica has great surf- depending on when you are traveling, try Puerto Viejo de Talamanca for good waves and a great Caribbean vibe, or there are also lots of surf spots on the Pacific Coast (Tamarindo area).  Rock climbing does exist in Costa Rica but I would not recommend it as the rocks here are very porous so it can be dangerous- but there are some great rappelling options for a similar adventure- try Pure Trek Canyoning in La Fortuna - great rappelling through waterfalls!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Actun Tunichil Muknal (attraction)
  2. Puerto Viejo de Talamanca (city)
  3. Tamarindo (city)
  4. Pure Trek Canyoning (attraction)
  5. La Fortuna (city)
2 thanks


answered by
Lola from Leitrim

I would suggest Panama I am originally from the city and it's very cosmopolitan with good restaurants, a decent nightlife and interesting sites. if you like shopping, we have malls and boutiques with reasonable prices. Casco Viejo is an artsy neighborhood which has a french influence so the architecture is lovely. You can visit the Panama Canal which is quite a site and you can do a day tour if you have the time. 

Panama has beaches on both  the Atlantic and Pacific sides. It is very easy to get to either side. I recommend Playa Blanca or Playa Santa Clara for beautiful clear blue waters and white sands. You can check out Kuna Yala islands and learn about the native indian culture of Panama. Colón Island in Bocas del Toro will give you a taste of the caribbean side. You have tours, surfing, nightlife and relaxation in all of these locations. Kuna Yala would be the most secluded one.

We use the USA dollar. A large part of the younger generation knows english. You can manage visiting my country if you are on a budget. Wherever you may go have a great time!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Panama (country)
  2. Casco Viejo (attraction)
  3. Panama Canal (attraction)
  4. Playa Blanca (attraction)
  5. Playa Santa Clara (attraction)
  6. Kuna Yala (city)
  7. Colón Island (attraction)


answered by
Sarah from Global Gypsy

Nicaragua is the best country in Central, especially for surfing. Take a look at my blog www.coffeewithasliceoflife.com i have lots of posts and pictures of Central and South America. Colombia is literally the best country in the world, the people are amazing, iit is beautiful and cheap. You HAVE to go there


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
1 thanks


answered by
Rachel from Kuwait City

The best vacation my husband and I ever took was to Panama We really loved the Bocas del Toroarea.  We stayed at two different place Eclypse de Mar Restaurant in a hut over the water and at La Loma Jungle Lodge in a tree house type place in the rain forest.  Go to Panama...you won't regret it.  


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Panama (country)
  2. Bocas del Toro (region)
  3. Eclypse de Mar Restaurant (restaurant)
  4. La Loma Jungle Lodge (hotel)
1 thanks


answered by
Kathy from Wilmington

Costa Rica for surfing and adventure. Pacific coast abounds with spots for long swell waves. Quepos in the south or further north along the coast for the best waves. Prepare for some rustic roads to the best spots. Latitude 10 was a favorite resort for us...and there are others in that area


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (country)
  2. Quepos (attraction)
1 thanks


answered by
Rocio from Costa Rica

Hello Matthieu! For outstanding surfing, I recommend Playa Santa Teresa and Malpais, both located in Costa Rica (Central America). Both host some of the best surf spots in Central America. There are a variety of world-class breaks with ideal surf conditions throughout the year. I have heard the main surf beach is Carmen Beach (it is on the border between Santa Teresa and Malpais -check on internet for further details-

For the best lodging in the area I recommend Villas Hermosas. A place owned by Canadians who offer comfortable and family-friendly accommodations. Outstanding homemade food and excellent service.

 Hope this helps!

Pura vida!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Playa Santa Teresa (attraction)
  2. Malpais (city)
  3. Costa Rica (country)
  4. Carmen Beach (attraction)
  5. Villas Hermosas (attraction)


answered by
Candace from Sydney

Hi Matthieu,

We spent 5 months travelling through Central America last year and while each country is worth a visit, Nicaragua really won us over. Check out our blog to see all the places we recommend visiting. If you only have one week, I would say had straight out to the coast from Rivas to a place called Guasacatesurf / Popoyo Beach. Our suggestions: http://wp.me/p4sxIg-7d and http://wp.me/p4sxIg-7K

Cheers!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicaragua (country)
  2. Guasacatesurf (hotel)
  3. Popoyo Beach (attraction)


answered by
Veronica

I went to Guatemala last April and i can tell it was amazing! What a beautiful country and its very cheap! If you decide to go i recomend you to go to antigua, which is a well kept colonial city, atitlan lake and tikal is a must. From Tikal you can go to Belize, is just 4 fours by car maybe 5 on bus. Besides, im from Colombia!! If you are planning to go cartagena is a must but also Bogota, Medellín, and the coffee cultural landscape. Dont miss santa marta where the Tayrona National Natural Park is and the lost city. Please let me know if you need more information, i will be pleases to help!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Guatemala (country)
  2. Tikal (city)
  3. Belize (country)
  4. Bogota (city)
  5. Medellín (attraction)
  6. Tayrona National Natural Park (attraction)


answered by
Tal from Hollywood, Florida

Costa Rica is absolutely amazing and beautiful. But its a bit pricey.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (country)


answered by
Ashley from Calgary

Soft spot for Costa Rica, really chill naturally beautiful!


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Costa Rica (country)




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