Many of Central America's islands are less frequented by tourists. While less tourism means less of a selection when it comes to accommodations and amenities, it also means uncrowded beaches, better wildlife viewing, and more local culture.
Cayos Cochinos - Honduras
The Cayos Cochinos are technically part of the Honduras Bay Islands, but they're remote enough -- and unique enough -- to be considered their own archipelago. Cayos Cochinos includes two larger islands (Cochino Pequeno and Cochino Grande) along with eleven tiny islands. Each boasts white sands, palms, and perfectly preserved Caribbean waters. One of the Cayos Cochinos islands, Chachauate Key, is home to a Garifuna settlement. The rest are largely unoccupied.
More than any other Central America island, Nicaragua’s Little Corn Island is the manifestation of everyone’s deserted island daydream. Traffic is solely bicycle and foot-driven, but because the island is only one square mile in size, cars certainly aren’t necessary. Its white sand beaches remain postcard-perfect, due to its tiny population of 250 as well as its location, far from the typical well-trod destinations. But it’s well worth venturing off the beaten path. The Caribbean waters swarm with tropical fish, a dream for divers and snorkelers both. And for a bit more local liveliness, Big Corn Island is just a short boat trip away.
Guanaja - Honduras
Guanaja is the least visited of Honduras’s Bay Islands, which means it's a great spot to enjoy Caribbean splendor far away from the crowds. This Central America island is very different from its sister islands, Utila and Roatan, because of its topography as well as its lack of over-tourism. Islanders travel mainly by boat, and because of the waterways that crisscross the island, it is often called the “Venice of Honduras.” Inland, travelers will find waterfalls and wildlife along jungle paths. But of course, Guanaja’s biggest attractions are its beaches and the unspoiled Caribbean waters beyond.
Fifty miles from Panama City on the Pacific side, Contadora Island serves as a hub for Central America travelers wishing to explore the Pearl Islands and the nearby deserted islets. But the island itself offers so many attractions, many don’t ever wish to leave. Thirteen beaches encircle the island, and at low tide, snorkeling is outstanding. A short swim around the point from Playa Sueca to Playa Larga is great for spotting sea turtles, sharks and other marine life. Accommodations and dining are beyond satisfactory.