When to go to Central America: the best periods | Ponant Magazine

Something for every season!

As well as the remains of the Mayan civilization and traces of Spanish colonialism which cover virtually the entire territory of Central America, there is plenty more to see and do in each of its unique countries. Dream beaches, tropical forests, volcanoes and pre-Columbian palaces… Visitors to the region are guaranteed to be spellbound. From Guatemala to Panama, via Nicaragua and Costa Rica: Escales has got some tips about when to go to Central America

Central America, Pacific side

Thanks to the American Cordillera mountain chain that protects it from the Caribbean climate, the Pacific coast enjoys lush vegetation and beautiful unspoilt beaches. You can also discover traces of colonialism and a number of UNESCO heritage sites. Nobody could remain insensitive to the beauty of the city of Antigua, nestled 1,500 meters above sea level and dominated by the volcanoes of Guatemala.

La Antigua, Guatemala

The dry season runs roughly from November to April and will allow you to make the most of the region’s charms. You will be able ascend the volcanoes in optimal conditions, while also enjoying the beaches. You will also be able to take in the rich tropical fauna and flora. Humpback whales migrate along the coast of Guatemala and the weather conditions are perfect for diving. Get fully immersed in the local culture by meeting one of the Amerindian peoples of the region, such as the semi-nomadic Embera.

The rainy season is also a good time to visit for nature lovers and surfers, puisqu’elle n’empêche pas l’observation des animaux et offre des vagues impressionnantes. Les côtes du Costa Rica and Manuel Antonio National Park make it a landmark destination. And let’s not forget about its neighbour Panama, also well worth the visit as it has all the charm of Costa Rica, with the added bonus of being much less frequented. It will also be an opportunity to cross the famous Panama Canal.

Le canal de Panama

Central America, Caribbean side

This part of the region is the cradle of Mayan civilization. The Yucatán peninsula is now in Mexico but in pre-Columbian times, this area covered Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Yucatán is home to the most beautiful Mayan sites, many of which are UNESCO world heritage. Come and be amazed by the temples and palaces of Palenque or Uxmal.

La cité d’Uxmal, Yucatán

Here again, the dry season is the best time to make the most of archaeological excursions. The month of February is particularly pleasant throughout the country, with clear skies and a host of cultural events. Built on a Mayan site, the colonial city of Merida is currently the capital of the region. Its palaces and cathedrals are beautiful examples of colonial architecture, but it is also the place to discover more recent culture. Those in search of adventure should head to the small port city of Campeche to take in its impressive fortifications, which once served to ward of pirates, and to stroll through its narrow streets dotted with multi-coloured houses.
Other Mayan sites await you further east, such as Copán, Quiriguá or the pyramids of Tikal. From November to April, you will be able to enjoy paradisiac beaches and emblematic scuba diving sites, such as the Blue Hole, off Belize.

Le Great Blue Hole, Belize

During the rainy season you can observe leatherback sea turtles or humpback whales who lay eggs in the Caribbean. It is also a less busy and quieter period, but you will be unable to visit several Mayan sites.

The Caribbean Islands

From December and especially in March, relish in the relaxed way of life and the vibrant colours of the West Indies. Although Cuba remains the most popular destination in the region (all year round), the dozens of islands that make up the region are also worth a visit for their unique atmospheres. Exceptional bathing spots are a highlight in this part of Central America. Why not take a dip in the crystal clear lagoons of Saint Martin and the British Virgin Isles, or the caves and natural swimming pools of Virgin Gorda? And we haven’t forgotten The Dominican Republic You’ll bring back priceless memories from a trip to this amazing destination: humpback whales, the party atmosphere, the varied landscapes and the joie de vivre of the Dominicans. The first three months of the year are perfect for enjoying the island, which combines perfect weather and a jam-packed cultural agenda.

Saint-Martin, Antilles françaises

The protected beaches of Nicaragua, the whales off the coast of El Salvador, the waterfalls and pine forests of Honduras, the coffee and cacao plantations of Guatemala, the lush mangroves of Costa Rica… Central America abounds with endless natural charm. Go and experience it for yourself.


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