My Pared Down Travel Dream List for Central America – IT WILL Be a Reality

Central America, mistakenly I think, is often looked at as a place to enjoy nature and wildlife ONLY.  But as you look closer, it’s a place of colonial cities, art, indigenous cultures, delicious foods, coffee and chocolate, Maya sites, beaches, diving and, yes, tons of gorgeous and often totally foreign, flora and fauna.

jaguarIn November of 2011, just a few months after starting the SanPedroScoop, I wrote a Bucket List – Places to Visit In Central America (and Nearby Mexico) Before I turn(ed) 40.

I was the tender age of 38…and had almost two full years for completion.  Easy, right?  I mean…Central America is, comparatively, pretty tiny.  Small countries that I should be able to cover in…days.  Ok…probably weeks.  But still!

I listed the following spots:


  • San Cristobal de las Casa, Chiapas, Mexico
  • Antigua, Guatemala
  • Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
  • Little Corn Island, Nicaragua
  • Lake Nicaragua, Granada, Isla de Ometepe and all the islands (before the Chinese plow a canal through it)
  • Learning to surf in Nicaragua or Costa Rica (I now think back…did I really want to do this…or did I just want to sound cool?)
  • The Panama Canal


You can see by what’s highlighted that almost 5 years later, I still have quite a bit to do.  Though I did travel to one spot, Guanaja, Bay Islands, Honduras that SHOULD HAVE BEEN at the top of that list.  It really is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.


It’s funny how quickly time flies and how time consuming travel in Central America can be.

But I can pick just one country.  One that is our closest neighbor (at least geographically) and focus there.

Let’s pare it down…here is my NEW LIST.  And I need to stop fooling around.  Guatemala is 100 miles from where I sit right now typing?  And there are flights going to Guatemala City and Flores, Guat that would make the start of my journey SOOO easy.  Or, for the slow, cheap route, there are tons of buses.

As they say…Arriba, arriba!

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

In the middle of the Guatemalan jungle is a series of pools and a limestone bridge.  My friends Heather and Kevin JUST visited and say that it is a SERIOUS hike.  But man…does it look gorgeous.  And it’s also on the way to my next MUST SEE location.


It is almost an embarassment that I haven’t visited this spot right just outside of Guatemala City…

Antigua, Guatemala

The original capital of Guatemala as early as the 1500s, this colonial city has been completely destroyed and then moved over the centuries in an earthquake prone zone.   But today it is a town of cobblestones, churches, beautiful architecture and exciting new restaurants and bars.  Easter week is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit – the entire town is carpeted with colorful sawdust for Christ’s procession.


Photo from this blog about where to celebrate Easter

Any other time of year, you can visit the city for very reasonable prices.

Rio Dulce, Guatemala

Just south of Belize is a popular sailboat destination – one where many of our catamarans go for maintenance, repairs or to use the harbor as protection from a storm.  The river runs through a gorge for miles and the area, including hot water falls into cold pools and an old fortress, is supposed to be absolutely amazingly spectacular.
Río Dulce GCA - Castillo de San Felipe de Lara 03

Stay at a Coffee Finca near in the mountains near Lake Atitlan

This is my wish-list and so I will include what looks like a GORGEOUS gorgeous resort/working coffee plantation with some ridiculous scenery.  Filadelphia Coffee Resort.  Photo from their website.  Looks like a great place to enjoy the area 🙂


Or I know I could make this one work as a base!  Casa Palopo on Lake Atitlan.  Holy moly.  Review and photo from Paste Magazine.


I do like a nice place to relax after hiking an active volcano or visiting a plantation and drinking cup after cup of some of the world’s best coffee.

Hike An Active Volcano

Watch lava ooze down a mountain BELOW you and maybe roast a marshmallow or two?  Sounds totally awesome.  I need a easy to moderate hike…and I don’t want one with a million people on it.  A day trip from Antigua is Pacaya.

The crazy cool thing is that once you reach Guatemala’s highlands, there seem to be active volcanoes just about everywhere.

My…this seems like a nice place to erect my home.  Eeek!


I’m giving myself one year, perhaps not the uber-posh hotels (call me!) but ONE YEAR.   Or…or…


And some more of my travels in the last 5 years below.

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