While the Central America region of the globe wouldn’t be one you’d typically think of for a family vacation spot with some countries like Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras maybe being a little too dangerous, remote or just too hot for a family vacation, there are actually some really good areas to vacation in Central America. Here are some of the best options for a family vacation in Central America.

Great Family Destinations in Central America

1. Panama City, Panama

Located at the bottom of Central America and just above the South American country of Colombia sits the country of Panama right below Costa Rica. Panama is quickly becoming one of the more popular family destinations in the region and exploring Panama Canal’s Miraflores Locks as well as Panama’s colonial history can be very fun and intriguing for the whole family. You can check out the Casco Viejo UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is great for learning about the history of Panama and also has great culture with food and shopping as well as great sight seeing of older Spanish architecture. The Amador Causeway sits by the entrance to the Pacific side of the Panama Canal and has stunning views. You can also check out the beautiful Metropolitan Natural Park. For more nature adventures there is also the rainforests in the Soberania National Park and you can go white water rafting with the whole family in the Chagres River.

2. Costa Rica

Costa Rica has been one of the most popular travel destinations in the world especially for Americans for a long time and is great for a family vacation. Costa Rica has stunning, lush rainforests, pristine beaches and wildlife to keep the whole family entertained. You can go on all kinds of natural adventures like hikes through volcanic parks and zip lining through the rainforests. Definitely check out the Arenal Volcano, which was active until 2010, which is a beautiful area of amazing views and natural wonder. The Monteverde Cloud Reserve located in Central Costa Rica is one of the best natural experiences in the world where you can explore the lush, tropical jungle and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature. For great beaches you can check out the Manuel Antonio National Park, which is small but has amazing beaches for the family as well as Playa Jaco, a couple hours outside of San Jose, which is another pristine beach area. Other great national parks to check out on this nature adventure of a lifetime are Tortuguero National Park and Corcovado National Park. Don’t forget to check out San Jose, the beautiful and historic capital of Costa Rica. December to April is the best time to visit Costa Rica.

3. Galapagos

While it’s a very expensive vacation, if you have a larger budget, checking out the Galapagos Islands with the family is one of the best experiences of wildlife in the entire world. It has some of the most diverse and unique wildlife in the world from sea lions, to giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies and even penguins. You get to experience the wildlife in a very intimate setting, which is a once in a lifetime experience. Kids can have a great experience here, watching whales and swimming above schools of sharks. You can stay in local hotels, on boats and also in the Royal Palm in Santa Cruz, which is a very luxurious five-star hotel. You can visit the Galapagos Islands year-round. Vacationing the Galapagos Islands is a once in a lifetime chance and a vacation your family will never forget.

4. Granada, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a great country to visit with the entire family and it’s a much cheaper vacation option than some of the others listed here and it’s one of the safest of all the Central American countries. The locals are very friendly in this area as well. Granada, located in Western Nicaragua is one of the best cities to visit in the country. It has a lot of rich, colonial history and heritage and there is a beautiful historical architecture to be seen. Granada is a lakefront town where you can explore Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest lakes in the world. There are also great nearby surf towns in the area that have great beaches, shopping and cultural dining.

5. Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, about an hour boat ride from Belize City, Belize, is one of the best tropical islands to visit in all of Central America. It’s a four-mile stretch of island that offers absolutely beautiful views, fun shopping and great dining. Caye Caulker also has some of the best snorkeling and scuba diving where people of all ages can explore the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world where you can explore the beautifully clear ocean waters with an abundance of unique and interesting fish species, lobsters, sharks, manta rays and more, which a very unique and interesting experience for the whole family and something you’ll definitely never forget. Caye Caulker is very popular among European tourists and the best time to visit is in the spring months of the year.

6. Machu Picchu, Peru

While located in northern South America, it’s hard to not include this premier world destination. Machu Picchu is a city of Incan Ruins that still has very well-preserved ruins that are absolutely breathtaking to explore. There’s great history here that is one of the best experiences for children of all ages and it’s the most popular archeological site in the entire world. The best times to visit Machu Picchu are during late May to early September and the most popular months are June through August. If you don’t mind a lot of other tourists accompanying you, you’ll be just fine.

This article was written by Cameron Lafontaine.