Tess Torelli April 16, 2018

Many vacationers have passports bearing the seals of a Latin American or Caribbean country. Now, an increasing number are flocking to six countries that, until recently, have been the best kept secret among destination travelers.

Central America — specifically Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama – collectively generated more than $5 billion in tourism last year, government data show. In fact, Central American countries are popping up more frequently on “Best of” travel guides, with those countries offering an alternative to the often crowded beaches of Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico (before Hurricane Maria).

Alyse Cori, owner of travel agency Travelwise, told Giftofaservant that Central America tops other popular tropical destinations, simply because countries in the region have a wealth of attractions aside from beaches and resorts.

“There is more there,” Cori said, pointing to the ecosystem and cultural diversity. “You can immerse yourself. You get the best of both worlds. It’s not flat.” Still, she voiced concern that Central America might get too “commercialized” in the face of more tourism.

Celeste Brash, a freelance writer and guide book writer for Lonely Planet, says price and accessibility is a factor as well. “It’s quick and easy to get there,” Brash said. “It’s also cheaper than a lot of the Caribbean destinations.”

Cheap, however, might be a relative term. Airfare to Central America can be relatively reasonable, but the wide range of attractions offered by each country means out-of-pocket costs can add up quickly. Recently, Giftofaservant took a look at what each country has to offer.

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