4 mins

Secret Central America: Wanderlust readers reveal their hidden gems

From ancient treasures to island escapes, Central America is packed with adventure. Here are your secrets for navigating its jungle of adrenaline highs and wondrous wildlife...

Central America (Shutterstock)

Follow the flowers in El Salvador

The colourful houses of Apaneca, El Salvador (Shutterstock)

The colourful houses of Apaneca, El Salvador (Shutterstock)

Don’t miss El Salvador’s Ruta de las Flores in the coffee highlands, from the colourful wall murals in Ataco and Apaneca to the amazing food festival in Juayúa every weekend.

There’s great art, waterfalls and hot springs.

– Jillanne David

Discover a unique island lifestyle

Cayos Cochinos. All yours. (Shutterstock)

Cayos Cochinos. All yours. (Shutterstock)

Don’t be put off by the news – Honduras is one of my favourite destinations, from visiting Pico Bonito NP (especially Jungle River Lodge) to diving in Utila.

Rent a private island in Cayos Cochinos – we had our own island complete with delicious food and unbeatable snorkelling for $100 (£82) per head! 

– Marianne Thomson

The boat to Guna Yala (Shutterstock)

The boat to Guna Yala (Shutterstock)

Take a trip with a local guide to the blissful Guna Yala islands in Panama, where you get the chance to meet the affable tribe who tell you how they run their society and tourism business to perfection.

A visit to El Valle afterwards is the perfect antidote to beach life with freshness and lush vegetation. Hire a car to get the most out of the country and take a trip down the Pacific Coast.

  Ann Furey

Take an Easter road trip from Guatemala to Belize

Semana Santa in Guatemala (Shutterstock)

Semana Santa in Guatemala (Shutterstock)

My trip started in Antigua during Semana Santa (Easter week) with parades through the cobblestone streets. I travelled to Rio Dulce, staying in a jungle cabin and spotting the quetzal, Guatemala’s national bird.

I crossed the border into Belize, stopping in San Ignacio, before heading to Caye Caulker for some amazing snorkelling in the Barrier Reef.

– Melissa Niemandt 

(Jenny Hughes)

(Jenny Hughes)

Experience Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve from up in the canopy on a zipline tour.

It's biodiversity, but with a buzz!

–  Jenny Hughes

Stay longer in Nicaragua

Horse-drawn cart in Granada (Shutterstock)

Horse-drawn cart in Granada (Shutterstock)

Visit Nicaragua’s capital Granada – we only spent an afternoon here, but wished we had stayed overnight! We did enjoy our time in a horse-drawn carriage exploring the city and admiring its architecture. Spend a night here if you can to immerse yourself into local life.

There’s a great photo opportunity of Ometepe island at the side of Route 1 highway, too, on the outskirts of Rivas and San Jorge, southbound to Costa Rica.

– Steve Brown

Local living and secret sights

Skeleton in Actun Tunichil Muknal (Shutterstock)

Skeleton in Actun Tunichil Muknal (Shutterstock)

Take on a 45-minute hike through the jungle to the mouth of Actun Tunichil Muknal cave system, then swim through the darkness to climb the ladders.

You are rewarded with a museum: ancient pots, lots of finger bones, and a skull or two, all cemented to the floor with calcite.

Up another level, you’ll find a human skeleton preserved in its entirety, its creamy bones encrusted in frosted, crystal fragments.

– Deborah Gray 

Garifuna troupe performs in Hopkins in Belize (Shutterstock)

Garifuna troupe performs in Hopkins in Belize (Shutterstock)

Get to know the local communities in Belize. They are some of the friendliest people I have met on my travels.

Many people often just go to Caye Caulker, San Pedro and San Ignacio. Venture further south to Hopkins where you can learn more about the Garifuna culture, from their fortnightly drumming sessions.

Or you can head to one of the villages near Punta Gorda, where you can arrange a homestay with
a Mopan Maya family and experience daily village life.

– Nevine El-Sherbini

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