Central America is a small strip of land with many, many islands, between South and North Americas. The countries considered to be in Central America are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Here’s our small guide to Central America for families – it will be updated as we visit more countries.
Most of them are a popular tourist destination for the tropical climate and the beautiful beaches, lush green forests, volcanos, and all of nature’s best things.
The best time to visit Central America
The temperatures around there don’t vary much, so it’s divided between the dry season and the wet season.
- The dry season (December – April) is usually the best, because it doesn’t rain much, but it’s way more crowded.
- The wet season (May – November) sees lower crowds and lower prices, but it rains. Sometimes, a hurricane also happens.
The USA holidays usually send out lots of American tourists that way too.
How safe is Central America?
Safe enough! Sure, some places are safer than others, but the touristic places are just fine.
You’ll need to keep a watch on your belongings, try not to draw attention, try to be smart about scams, but honestly, there’s no need for worry.
We found it great, we could walk around with the kids just about everywhere (everywhere we wanted/had to go), be it day or night. We carried our cameras, our backpacks, our bags. We even left all of our belongings in the car while we had lunch and it was never a problem.
The internet in Central America
It was a hit-and-miss thing. Some places had amazing internet, like San Jose, but others… In Punta Uva, for instance, it was really, really bad. It was nearly impossible to work. We couldn’t use any internet, not the one from the house, not the phone, not the mobile world-wide internet. It was that bad. Most places were just fine. It worked just enough.
So if you need to be connected during your trip there, triple check this little thing because, even though there can be a connection, it can be a lousy one.
Our trip to Central America
We had a short trip of 6 weeks to Central America and we were quite baffled by the prices. Costa Rica was insanely expensive, one of the most expensive places we’ve ever been.
On the other hand, Nicaragua was super cheap, one of the most affordable places we’ve managed to visit so far.
Panama, Costa Rica, and Belize are expensive countries, where Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador tend to be more affordable.
We’ve so far visited only visited 2 countries: Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
See below all about them!
Costa Rica with kids
We loved Costa Rica. It’s got a super established tourism industry, so it’s extremely easy to do anything you may want to do. But, this accessibility has a price, and it’s not a low one. A meal would cost us (a family of 6, with 2 teens) over US$ 100 every single time, and it could get to US$ 300 easily. Hiring SUP, kayak, or snorkel gear was easy, but it also cost a lot – the price varied a lot from one place to the other, but it was never cheap. It’s worth it, but you have to really want it.
- Our comprehensive guide to Costa Rica for families with kids – with tips, costs, and everything else you may need.
- San Jose, Costa Rica’s Capital – San Jose is often overlooked by the tourists, but we had a blast there! Familiar restaurants, the real Costa-Rican life, and culture are here.
- Punta Uva and Puerto Viejo, a paradise at the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica – just the best beach ever, sloths, the best Caribbean food, green, and just Pura Vida.
- Manuel Antonio with kids – it’s one of the most touristic spots in Costa Rica due to the Manuel Antonio National Park. For a close-up with the Costa-Rican wildlife, this is the best place ever! And for zip-lining! SO MUCH FUN!
Nicaragua with kids
To me, the best of Nicaragua was the food. I absolutely loved the food, I could eat all day long. But the low prices made us a bit crazy and we took a moment or 2 days to just give the tattoos a retouch. Well, we met one great artist and it was a pretty awesome moment. We did lose the hatching baby turtles – missed it for a week! It was hot and sweaty and we just had too much fun!
- Granada, Masaya, and Managua, + a guide to the whole country of Nicaragua for families – We got a little sick so the weeks were shortened and we had to give up many, many things. But it was still filled with chocolate, colonial towns, and volcanos!
- Leon, one of our favorite cities in the Americas – León is so beautiful, so colorful, so lovely, it’s really hard to beat it! It’s also the tourists’ favorite in Nicaragua.
- How to choose between Costa Rica and Nicaragua – it’s no easy task, and even though they’re right next to each other and share a lot of similarities, the differences are huge! Find out which of them suits best your next vacation!
To finish it…
You shouldn’t miss Central America. It’s a great place with mostly cold showers and lousy internet, but still great!
Well, I mean, there’s no competing with white-sanded-crystal-clear beaches, volcano boarding, and zip-lining, now is there? And then you add up some turtles, sloths, monkeys, lizards and humming birds…
- Minimun Stay
- $ ~ $$$
- Best local transport option
- Do we recommend it?
- Central America
- A week, but the more, the merrier
- Depends on the country
- Super child-friendly
- safe enough!