Home » Is Central America the ultimate family destination? All signs point to yes

Is Central America the ultimate family destination? All signs point to yes

written by Mark Hewitt February 8, 2018
A family play on a beach in Costa Rica

The overseas family holiday. It’s a difficult one to get right. It’s got to be fun, but not too tough. It needs to be interesting and different, but not too heavy on the culture shock. And beaches, or at least a pool, are almost obligatory. What you need is the perfect mix of adventure, discovery, relaxation and escape.

With its wildlife-filled jungle, adventure activities, beaches, ruins and melting pot of cultures, Central America might just be the best place in the world to whisk your tribe away to. Here are some destinations that are hard to beat for that family-friendly combo of thrill and chill:

1. Monteverde, Costa Rica

A walkway in the cloud forest, Monteverde

Photo by Isabella Jusková, Unsplash

Home to some of the most biodiverse terrain on the planet, Costa Rica is pretty much a one-stop shop for family adventure. It’s not every day you can go walking in the sky, but thanks to a series of bridges hanging suspended among the trees (they were built that way, don’t worry), you can do just that in the Monteverde cloud forest. If trying not to look down doesn’t give you enough of an adrenaline rush, up the ante with some zip-lining.

RELATED: HOW TO SPOT SLOTHS IN COSTA RICA’S CLOUD FORESTS

2. Tortuguero National Park, Costa Rica

A group of travellers raft along the river in Costa Rica

Photo by Pedro Paulo Ferreira

Anywhere you can only access by boat or plane is going to feel like a holiday, but this is no ordinary nature escape. This remote jungle is home to 13 of Costa Rica’s 16 endangered species, along with howler monkeys, spider-monkeys, caimans, manatees, turtles, eagles, and sloths. Fun fact: Tortuguero’s Jesus Christ lizard got its nickname for walking on water.

CHECK OUT INTREPID’S 15-DAY FAMILY HOLIDAY AND 15-DAY FAMILY HOLIDAY WITH TEENAGERS

3. Sarapiqui, Costa Rica

Hiking trail through Sarapiqui

Photo by Lauren Elisabeth, Shutterstock

Best known as a white-water rafting destination, Sarapiqui is a nature escape with something for everyone. Stroll around old growth forest, hike across a hanging bridge to a cacao plantation for an organic chocolate tasting, watch biological research unfold at La Selva station, scan the waters for crocodiles and otters on a riverboat safari, go horse riding, or partake in some of Costa Rica’s very best birdwatching. This slice of paradise has the whole clan covered.

RELATED: 7 FACTS YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT COSTA RICA

4. Havana, Cuba

Colourful buildings and cars in Havana, Cuba

Photo by Kendra Paice

If Havana’s colonial architecture and Cuban revolutionary history doesn’t captivate younger travellers, then the cult of Coppelia ice cream and a trip to the baseball surely will. Cuba’s capital city lives up to the ‘city of contrasts’ tag, full of head-turning scenes. One minute you’re lost in the crazy street art of Fusterlandia, the next riding in a vintage Chevrolet along the Malecon, with the salty sea breeze in your hair. A deeply embedded family culture in Cuba means the locals accommodate families well, and the whole thing is easier to navigate than it looks. A mojito or two doesn’t hurt either.

RELATED: 6 OF THE DREAMIEST BEACHES IN CUBA

5. Vinales, Cuba

Cuba’s lush Vinales Valley

Photo by Cliff Bielawski

To the bat cave! Cuba’s most ancient geological zone, the Vinales Valley, is good for smelling the sweet aroma of tobacco fields, great for seeing an old-fashioned and multi-ethnic side of Cuba, and even better for adventures to caves… on boats! Cueva del Indio, a limestone grotto and former local Indian dwelling, makes for a particularly memorable family outing. A Google image search reveals scenes not unlike South East Asia or Australia’s Great Ocean Road, but when you’re there, the bats at the cave entrance make a spectacle all of their own.

RELATED: WHY YOU CANNOT HELP BUT FALL FOR VINALES, CUBA

6. Tulum, Mexico

Pristine beach in Tulum, Mexico

Photo by Craig Bennett

For versatile seaside destinations, Mexico is right up there with anything in the Caribbean. Enter Tulum, a white-sand beauty on the Yucatan Peninsula. The beach easily qualifies as one of the best in Mexico, but what sets this particular white-sand beauty apart from the rest is the 13th-century Maya ruin that overlooks it. With the crocs, turtles and flamingos of Sian Ka’an nature reserve just a short trip away, and the chilled-out fishing village of Punta Allen a nice way to turn down the volume, Tulum alone could sustain a 10/10 family getaway in Mexico.

Get the lowdown on our family holidays in the Americas here.

Feature image by Timur Kulgarin, Shutterstock

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1 comment

URIGNORANT February 8, 2018 - 9:15 pm

Maybe figure out that Cuba and Mexico are not part of Central American.

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