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I’ve wanted to do this post forever but just kept putting if off for some reason but today is the day. Today I’m working on my Central America bucket list!
I love Latin America and while I’ve only been to Ecuador in South America, I cannot wait to go back to all of Central America and explore and see as many things as possible.
While my US bucket lists are more nature focused, this still will be, there will probably be a lot more city/town stuff on this list. It’s a mix of things I’ve already done and things I would very much like to do.
There are a few things that I also don’t necessarily want to do myself but know they’re must-have’s on any Central America bucket list. This is a combo personal bucket list/general bucket list.
There are so many amazing things to do in Central America, it’s going to be a long list. Also, I know Mexico is usually part of Central America backpacking trips, but I’m giving it it’s own bucket list because Mexico is huge and not technically Central America.
Travel Services I Recommend:
AllTrails – This is my favorite hike tracking app.
Discover Cars – I recommend Discover Cars for rental cars.
Booking.com – This is great for finding and booking hotels.
Get Your Guide – I recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours.
National Park Obsessed – This is the best national park planner.
Skyscanner – Skyscanner is great for finding and booking flights.
See all my resources here.
Bucket list posts
Belize bucket list
I only spent three or four days in Belize and I only stayed in San Ignacio, but I really enjoyed my time there. The drive from Chetumal, Mexico to San Ignacio felt like we were in Jurassic Park.
While I wasn’t there too long, I was able to visit the ATM Cave, the Cahal Pech ruins, and Monkey Falls but would love to go back and do even more, especially visit the islands of Belize.
I want to visit the islands, see all the ruins with my new-found love and appreciation for them, go to all the national parks, and even try snorkeling (I’m determined to learn to like it).
There are so many great things to add to your Belize bucket list, I know I’ll need all kinds of time there to do even a good portion of it. Also, Belize is expensive. The tours aren’t very budget friendly, but knowing that going into it can help you plan even more.
- Visit the ATM Cave
- Explore San Ignacio
- Visit St. Herman’s Blue Hole National Park
- See the Xunantunich ruins
- See howler monkeys at the Community Baboon Sanctuary
- Visit the Cahal Pech ruins
- Snorkel with manatees at Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary
- See the Lamanai ruins
- Visit Placencia
- See El Pilar ruins
- See Butterfly Falls at Hidden Valley Reserve
- Visit Mayflower Bocawina National Park
- See Big Rock Falls
- Visit Rio On Pools
- Visit Billy Balquedier National Park
- Relax on Caye Caulker
- Snorkel Caye Caulker
- See Monkey Falls
- See Thousand Foot Falls (the tallest waterfall in Central America at 1,600 feet tall!)
- Scuba dive the Blue Hole
- See the Altun Ha ruins
- Take a helicopter over the Blue Hole
- Go sailing
- Hike Tiger Fern Trail
- Visit the Barton Creek Cave
- Do some cave kayaking
- Visit the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary and hope to see a jaguar
- Relax on Ambergris Caye
- Visit Laughing Bird Caye National Park
- Visit Hopkins
- Go cave tubing
- Visit Rio Frio Cave
- Canoe the Macal River
- See/do the Black Hole Drop
- See the Caracol ruins
Guatemala bucket list
I. Love. Guatemala. So. Much. I spent about three weeks there and it’s probably the number one place I think about going back to (and Taiwan and Japan). There are so many things I still want to do there, it’s crazy.
It’s second on here just because I went in order from north to south, but Guatemala is the number one place on my Central America bucket list for so many reasons.
It’s beautiful, the towns are amazing, there are tons of Mayan ruins, there is so much hiking, and volcanos! Ugh. I’m just making myself want to go back even more now.
- Hike El Mirador (on your own or with a group)
- Visit the Tikal ruins at sunrise
- Swim at Semuc Champey
- Do the candlelight cave tour at Semuc Lampey
- Visit Laguna La Chua
- Surf in El Paredon
- Visit the Nakum ruins
- Visit the Uaxactun ruins
- Hike Corazon de Agua
- Hike Indian Nose at sunrise
- Visit Quetzaltenango (Xela)
- Visit El Ceibal ruins
- Visit the Chichicastenango market
- Tour a coffee farm
Explore the Panajachel market
- Rock climb in Panajachel
- Hike to Finca Paraiso in Rio Dulce
- Hike Chicabal Volcano and Chicabal Lake
- Scuba dive in Lake Atitlan
- Visit Castillo de San Felipe
- Visit the Quirigua ruins
- Kayak on Lake Atitlan
- Relax in Las Fuentes Georginas hot springs
- Channel your inner hippie in San Marcos
- Climb Volcan San Pedro
- Visit Siete Altares
- Take some Spanish lessons
Walk around Antigua
- See the Iximche ruins
- Hike Pumpatin Canyon
Explore the market in Antigua
- Ride a chicken bus
- See the Yaxha ruins
- Hike Tajumalco (the highest peak in Central America!)
- Climb Volcan Pacaya
Walk to Cerro de La Cruz in Antigua
- Hike Cerro de Oro
- Relax in Rio Dulce
- Relax on the beach of Monterrico
- Hike/camp on Volcan Acetenango
El Salvador bucket list
I’ve technically been to El Salvador but all I did there was eat breakfast in El Tunco on our shuttle ride from Antigua, Guatemala to Leon, Nicaragua.
I know there is so much more to do in El Salvador and i would love to do, well, any of it haha. Ok, anything but surfing or diving even though surfing is huge here.
I know I can’t really say since I’ve only had breakfast here, but I feel like El Salvador is a bit of a hidden gem that should definitely be on your Central America bucket list.
- Surf in El Tunco
- Visit Cerro Verde National Park
- Hike the Santa Ana Volcano
- Visit El Imposible National park
- Hike up San Salvador Volcano
- Visi Playa El Zonte
- Relax in Mizata
- Swim in Lake Coatepeque Caldera
- Visit Lake Ilopango
- Visit the Tazumal ruins
- Hike up Conchagua Volcano
- See Salto el Cubo waterfalls
- Explore Lake Suchitlan
- Visit Playa El Cuco
- Visit La Ruta de Las Flores
- Boat in Laguna Verde
- Visit Juayua on Ruta de Las Flores
- See the Tamanique Waterfalls
- See Chorros de La Calera
- Eat pupusas
- Relax in the Santa Teresa hot springs
- Visit Suchitoto
- See Los Tercios waterfalls
- Visit Joya de Ceren ruins
- Tour a coffee farm
Honduras bucket list
I’ve also technically been to Honduras (on that same shuttle ride) but we didn’t stop there at all, just at the border crossing. I was just surprised how dry it was.
I didn’t expect that but it felt like we were driving through The Lion King. I don’t know much about Honduras other than the Bay Islands and Copan Ruinas so I’m excited to put this part of my Central America bucket list together.
I won’t lie, I didn’t really realize Honduras would be so amazing for national parks, nature, all things outdoor! I don’t know why I didn’t think that but man, this creeped up higher on my list of places to go back to putting this together!
- Dive the Bay Islands
- Snorkel in Roatan
- Visit Copan Ruinas
- Hike Cerro Azul Meambar National Park
- Visit Honduras’ first national park, La Tigra
- Visit Lake Yojoa
- See Pulhapanzak Waterfall
- Take a coffee tour
- Day trip to Cayos Cochinos
- Visit Punta Sal National Park
- See Macaws at Macaw Mountains reserve
- Visit the town of Trujillo
- Go caving at the Caves of Taulabe
- Visit Pico Bonito National Park
- Look for wildlife in Cusuco National Park
- Relax on Utila
- Explore Celaque National Park
- Go back in time in Gracias
- See El Cristo del Picacho
- White water raft on Rio Cangrejal
- Hike Montana Santa Barbara National Park
- Visit Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve
- See the Cave of Glowing Skulls
- Visit La Mosquitia
Nicaragua bucket list
I spent a whole month in Nicaragua and did surpisingly little. I spent a few days in Leon to go volcano boarding, then went to San Juan del Sur, then Ometepe, then San Juan del Sur, then Managua, then the Corn Islands, then Managua, then San Juan del Sur again before going to Costa Rica.
I saw some great things but there are soooo many more things I want to see and do there! And I want to go back to the Corn Islands because I love them so much and want to see how they’ve changed since 2015.
- ATV or scooter around Isla de Ometepe
- Climb Volcan Maderas
- Climb Volcan Concepcion
- Surf Playa Colorado
- Relax on Playa Maderas
- Hike in the Miraflor Nature Reserve
- Walk to the Christ of Mercy Statue in San Juan del Sur
Swim in El Ojo de Agua
- Go volcano boarding on Volcan Cerro Negro
- Explore historic Grenada
- Hike Canyon de Somoto
- See the white roof on Leon Cathedral
- Relax in Las Salinas hot springs
- Scuba dive on Little Corn Island
- Surf at Las Penitas
- Visit the craft market in Masaya
- Visit the Corn Islands
Sunday Funday pool crawl in San Juan del Sur
- Kayak Las Isletas
- See the tide pools at Guasacate Beach
- Visit Apoyo Lagoon
- Relax on Playa Hermosa
- Climb Volcan Telica
- Visit the town of Esteli
- Climb Volcan Masaya
- Visit the Isletas of Grenada
- Visit Mombacho Volcano
Costa Rica bucket list
Costa Rica is incredible. And expensive. I was only there for about a week a the end of my Central America trip but I liked it and would like to go back and see a lot more of it.
I mean, they have tons of waterfalls, national parks, and volcanos which I love all of those. I need to see a sloth. I need to go to all the beaches. I need to drink more coffee. I need to go back to Costa Rica.
- Visit the Jaguar Rescue Center
- Zipline in Monteverde
- Hike in the Monteverde Could Forest Reserve
- Kayak in the mangroves of Quepos
- Hike Poas Volcano
- Relax and explore the Nicoya Peninsula
- Enjoy the Tabacon hot springs
- Do a night jungle tour in Monteverde
- Hike to the Rio Negro hot springs
- Go diving to shipwrecks on the Tortuga Islands
- Go whitewater rafting in Arenal
- Hike Cerro Chato
- Hike in Arenal Volcano National Park
- Hike Tenorio Volcano
- Explore Manuel Antonio National Park
- Do a night tour at Manuel Antonio
- Surf in Jaco
- Hike Pico Blanco por Ventoleras
- Relax on Whale Tail Beach
- Visit Marino Ballena National Park
- Visit the Terraba Sierpe Mangroves
- Relax on Conchal Beach
- Go scuba diving at Cano Island
- See a sloth
- Swim at Montezuma Waterfalls
- Visit Tortugero National Park
- Do the Bajos del Toro waterfall hike
- Hike to Nauyaca Waterfall
- Visit Volcano Irazu
- Hike Cahuita National Park
- Hike the Cerro Cabeza de Vaca Loop
- Surf in Dominical
- Relax on Playa Uvita
- Hike to Catarata del Toro waterfall
- Visit the town of Ojochal
- Visit Rincon de la Vieja National Park
- Hike the Sendero Bosque Nuboso Trail
- Hike to the waterfalls of La Fortuna
- Look for wildlife at Cabo Blanco Nature Reserve
- Hike Palo Verde National Park
- Bike around Puerto Viejo
- Explore Gandoca National Park
- Hike the Rainmaker Forest Trail
- Do a chocolate tour
- Visit Corcovado National Park
- Visit Rio Celeste
- Hike to La Muralla Waterfall
- Hike the El Tigre Waterfall trailLook for wildlife at the Curu Wildlife Reserve
- Go canyoning and waterfall rappelling in La Fortuna
Panama bucket list
Ahh, Panama. I only spent maybe three days here at the very end of my trip before heading back to San Jose to fly home. I only went to Bocas del Toro but I liked it. Mostly.
I did not like Red Frog Beach but I did like the cafe and chocolate place on the hill. And Bocas del Drago. And Bocas Town. But, like everywhere else on my Central America bucket list, there are a million other places in Panama I want to go.
- See the Panama Canal
- Do a bioluminescent tour in Bocas del Doro
- Visit the San Blas Islands
- Snorkel in the Pearl Islands
- Go island hopping in Bocas del Toro
- Do the Bermejo Waterfall hike
- Do the El Salto Waterfall hike
- Hike the Lost Waterfalls Trail
- Hike the Pipeline Trail in Boquete
- Bike to Boca del Drago from Bocas Town
- Hike to the Ola Waterfalls
- Hike Cerro Picacho in Ola
- Sail from the San Blas Islands to Colombia
- Hike to Las Golondrinas Waterfall
- Explore Casco Viejo in Panama City
- Do La Silampa Waterfall hike
- Hike El Pianista Trail
- Visit the Gamboa Rainforest
- Hike Cerro Cara Iguana
- Visit Boquete
- Hike Sendero Los Quetzales
- Hike Cerro La Gaita
- Hike Aguila Falls and Canyon
- Climb Volcan Baru
- Hike Cerro Tute
- Go whale watching on the Gulf of Chiriqui
Have you been to Central America? Where did you go? What did you do there? What is still on your Central America bucket list?