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Seven intriguing countries—Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama—make up Central America. Take the continent's unique geology, combine that with a fascinating cultural and political past, throw in some Hispanic flavor, and you have a travel destination that offers up an abundance of travel experiences that will keep you coming back.
The continent of Central America is a geographic delight. It's one of the world's major volcano belts, and it's also an isthmus, which means it's a narrow strip of land that has water on both sides and connects two larger landmasses—North America and South America, in this case. The west coast of the isthmus of Central America is bathed by the Pacific Ocean, while the east coast is splashed by the warm Caribbean Sea. Each of the continent's seven countries has a coastline, and several of them have both a Pacific and a Caribbean coast.
Central America offers some of the best scuba diving sites in the world. There are the Bay Islands of Honduras, the Corn Islands of Nicaragua, Isla del Coco in Costa Rica, and of course, spectacular Ambergris Caye, in Belize (see "Top Central American Cities & Sights" below).
In many of the continent's countries you can visit the remarkably preserved ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization. There's Tikal in Guatemala, Copan in Honduras, and Altun Ha, Caracol, and several others in Belize.
Of course, you'll want to see the Panama Canal spend some time relaxing on gorgeous beaches, view wildlife, stay in jungle eco—lodges, admire extinct and active volcanoes . . . there are many sights and many adventures awaiting you in the delightful countries of Central America
The countries in South America are relatively small, so there are only one or two major airports in each one. In Costa Rica, for example, you can fly to the capital, San Jose, or to Liberia, which is in the northern part or the country. When travelling to Panama, you'll no doubt fly to Panama City. There are a limited number of direct flights from Canada to Central American destinations, so book well in advance. Otherwise, you'll have a stop in the United States.
Christmas through mid-January is high season in most Central American countries. Holy Week (Semana Santa), the week prior to Easter Sunday, is high season as well. Travel costs such as airfare and hotels can be up to 50% higher at these times. If you don't mind rain, and you're on a really tight budget, consider travelling during the rainy season instead because you'll find some amazing deals on airfare and accommodation.
The Central American countries enjoy a tropical climate, so there are really two distinct seasons: a dry season and a rainy season. Unless a limited budget is calling the shots, you'll want to avoid travelling to Central America during the rainy season, which actually varies slightly from country to country. For example, the rainy season in Costa Rica and Belize is May through November, while further south, in Panama, it's May through January. Anytime outside of the rainy season is an excellent time to visit.
Central America is generally hot and humid year-round. Expect temperatures to range from the mid 20°C to the low 30°C. During the dry season, temperatures will definitely hover closer to 30°C.