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Here Are The Best Road Trip Routes Through Central America

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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From ancient Mayan History to surfing the coast, if it’s been a dream of yours to backpack or road trip through Central America, here are some unforgettable routes to explore.

The Mayan Route:

You can follow the remains of the ancient Mayan civilization throughout Central America starting in Belize and ending in Honduras. With some of the most picturesque scenery in the world and well-preserved pieces of history, The Mayan Route is an unforgettable journey through time.

Belize

Lamanai and Altun Ha are two of the smaller sites in Belize. Lamanai can only be accessed by a jungle river cruise providing an adventure from day one. If the jungle cruise isn’t your thing, be sure to check out Altun Ha, Belize’s largest Mayan site as well as Belizean Cayes, Caye Caulker, and Ambergris Caye.

Guatemala

From Belize, cross into Guatemala for Tikal. A site, amidst the thick jungle, that is recommended you spend two days exploring. The Maya market at Chichicastenango and Lake Atitlan are also worth a visit. Lake Atitlan has been called the most beautiful lake in the world and is bordered by real Maya villages. 

Tikal Guatemala | Rocco Stecher | Getty Images

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Honduras

Head to Honduras for a day trip to Copan near the Guatemala border. The charming city is known for its Mayan ruins but is also a beautiful town with cobblestone roads and red-tiled roofed homes.


Coffee Plantations:

You will find dozens of guided coffee and tea tours throughout Central America online. However, if you are planning on doing this on your own, here are some spots you should definitely check out. 

Costa Rica

Located in the town of Naranjo, just outside of San Jose, is a 600-acre coffee plantation called Hacienda Espíritu Santo offering detailed tours of the campus and the process from maintaining the coffee crops to the traditional way to brew a fresh cup. Finca Rosa Blanca is a boutique style property in the Central Valley area of Costa Rica. Here, you can learn the process in a much more intimate setting. 

Arnoldophoto | Getty Images

Panama

One of the rarest, most sought-after, and expensive coffees in the world comes from Panama. Which is why Bouquet, Panama is often called the Bordeaux of coffee. Finca Lerida, in addition to being a working coffee farm, is a hotel surrounded by 500-acres of cloud forest. Café Ruiz is another good stop that offers three organized coffee-related tours, including a high-end tasting where they walk you through the complexities of coffee in all its varieties.

RELATED: Which Central America Destination Is Best For You?

The Surf Route:

It’s no secret that Central America is home to some of the best surfing spots in the world. According to surfholiday.com, here are some of the best surfing camps along the Pacific Coast that make for one epic surf route road trip. 

El Salvador

Head to Las Flores and stay at AST Surf Resort for the “surf experience of your life”. AST offers guided surf tours, surf camps, and guided adventure tours with flexible payment plans, local activities, and fully customizable solo or group packaging.

Nicaragua

Mirimar Surf Camp is located in a sleepy fishing village with perfect waves for surfers of all levels. This majestic paradise, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is also home to all different kinds of adventures.

Costa Rica

Selina Surf Camp Santa Teresa is all about “good vibes, great company, and being in touch with Mother Nature”. The affordable hostel offers packages for every budget. 

Santa Teresa, Costa Rica | californiabirdy | Getty Images

Panama

End the tour at the Beach Break Surf Camp in Playa Venao, Panama where they promise to provide an unforgettable experience for those who want to enjoy the laid back beach vibe and world class surf that this playa has to offer. 

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