Relaxing places in Central America
Belize is very different from the rest of Central America: Black people, dreadlocks and reggae are predominant here. A great opportunity to slow down and get into the Belizy vibe is a trip to some of the cays (islands). The easiest one to get to from Belize city is Caye Caulker, only 45 minutes away with speed boat taxi. Here, the sea is warm and tempting, but the shore is full of sea grass. Fortunately, the second greatest reef in the world is just offshore, so you will be a lazy bastard not to do some snorkeling or diving. Try the "Blue hole", a sink hole which offers a 40 meters deep dive, if not for the depth, then for the chance to see sharks up close.
This small settlement is the laid back alternative to popular beach town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. Here in Cahuita the Afro-Caribbean people still outnumber the expats and the parque central consists of one big tree. The attractions is the few dusty roads and the long gorgeous coast line. The biggest decision will be whether to take a stroll in the black sand at Playa Negra north of town or explore the white sand in Parque Nacional Cahuita in the south end of town. And if it all gets too stressful, do as the town sloth, find a shady place and chill out.
San Juan del Sur is Nicaragua's best bet for a cool beach vibe. It is a place for surfers - and people who wish they were. Surf beaches like Playa Madera and Playa Marsella can be found further north and the surf is equal to that in Costa Rica, minus the overcrowding. If you get sick of just sitting around the beach, there is a nature reserve 30 minutes to the north that has great wildlife and a forest restoration site which is good to support. If you are lucky you might get a good look at a Sloth. The town itself is located in a sheltered bay with a wide beach and calm water. Nothing much is happening here (besides looking at beautiful Nicaraguan women), but maybe that is the point.
There seems to be some universal need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday urban life, and Panama is no different. While the country offers a number of possible escapes, there are none more convenient than the tiny island of Taboga. At a mere 20 km of the coast of downtown Panama City, the island of Taboga provides an easy option for some sun, surf and fresh air. El Calypso ferry runs to and from the island a couple of times a day, making a day trip simple. For those wishing a little more time away, a few boutique hotels and restaurants provide the essentials for a romantic island getaway. With water sports, military ruins and decent beaches, Taboga is the easy urban diversion.
Picture perfect palm-filled islands are dotting the Caribbean coast in the San Blas archipelago. Swaying coconut palms on a little strip of white sand surrounded by turquoise water seems to be the recipe here. Some of the islands are inhabited by the Kuna people who will plaster an island full of their small houses, while other islands are deserted and look like something from a Bounty chocolate commercial. One of the best ways to explore this region is by boat on a the sailing tour from Panama to Colombia (or backwards), which will also solve the problem of getting around the troubled Darién Gap.