The Top Central America Islands

••• Ometepe. Marina K. Villatoro

As I have said many times before, Central America hast tons of different things and places to offer that will suit most tastes and budgets. That long list of things of course includes gorgeous islands. There are tons of it, most of them are located on the Caribbean Sea that offer amazing opportunities for relaxation and adventure.

In them you can enjoy the gorgeous coral reefs that surround them by taking a boat trip, swimming, snorkeling and even diving. If you prefer you can also just lay down on the sand and relax while you look out on the gorgeous crystal clear water with a drink in one hand and a good book on the other.

There are tons of islands in the region so deciding which ones to visit can be a bit of a challenge. So I decided to make thing a little easier for you by listing a few of my favorite ones. I narrowed it down to eight of them.

8 of The Best Islands of Central America

  • 01 of 08

    Corn Islands in Nicaragua

    Ok, I cheated a little it on this one! It is not one but two small islands. They are located in the Caribbean Sea, about 70 kilometers off of the Nicaraguan coast. One of the main attractions of these islands is that you will find tons of people that speak English due to the fact that it was once a British colony.

    In them you will find the characteristic tropical weather of the Caribbean along with clear blue water, White sanded beaches, tons of palm trees and stunning coral reefs.

    What makes them so good in my eyes is that even though there are restaurants and hotel but they still aren’t flooded with huge resorts and tons of tourists. So you still get to experience the true, laid back vibe of the Caribbean.

    Plus it is really easy to get there, there are daily flights from Managua. You could also drive to la Rama Town and take a ferry but it only works once per week. 

  • 02 of 08

    Ometepe in Nicaragua

    ••• Ometepe. Marina K. Villatoro

    I think this is the most original or uncommon type of island that you will find. Ometepe Island is located in the middle of a huge lake in Nicaragua. The island is actually the result of the intense volcanic activity of the region. It is formed by two huge volcanoes.

    But there is much more to do in it than just hiking volcanoes (which can be a lot of fun). In it you will find an eco friendly hotel, a relaxed and friendly population, tons of plantations to explore, beaches to relax in and even an archaeological site from the days before Spaniards discovered the region.

    The beaches are not white sanded pieces of paradise but they are still pretty good places to relax in.

    To get to Ometepe you will have to drive to Moyogalpa where you can take a ferry.

    Even though this is becoming a popular place to visit with each day that passes, its natural beauty has managed to be preserved due to the efforts of locals. So the forests still look untouched. 

  • 03 of 08

    Roatán in Honduras

    ••• Honduras. Marina K. Villatoro

    Here is one you might have heard of already. This is one of the main destinations in Honduras and for a good reason. It is located about 65 kilometers off from the coast and located in the middle of one of the largest coral reefs of the world and surrounded by two other, smaller islands.

    For centuries the islands were either inhabited by local tribes or visited by individual settlers, traders and even some of the most famous pirates. It was also a popular stopover for military forces. It was then populate by former slaves, therefore in it you can find people that speak English, Spanish and even French.

    Aside from some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen it offers great opportunities for divers who want to explore the reef. You can also take boat tours to see dolphins.

    If you ever go to the island make sure you go on the submarine tour. This was one of my family’s favorite activities when we were there.  

  • 04 of 08
    ••• Beach in Utila. Marina K. Villatoro

    Remember that I said that Roatán was part of a reef complex along with two other Islands? This is one of them. Utila is slightly smaller and a better place to visit if you really want to get away from touristy stuff.

    The island is just as pretty as its neighbors, with its white sanded beaches, crystal clear water, amazing weather all of the time, tons of mall eateries along the beach and a few small but cute hotels.

    As of activities, I think there are more tours being offered in Roatán but when it comes to learning or practicing how to dive, I would definitely say that this is the place. I also recommend biking to move around, there aren’t any special areas for it but the place is extremely relaxed and there aren’t a ton of cars so it is safe.

    I loved spending time in both islands but I must admit that Utila was my favorite one. However if you have the time, visit both they each have something special.

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    The Island is actually a National Park in the Chiquirí Gulf of Panama that includes a marine reserve. It is also a bit different than the previous one because you will find it in the Pacific coast instead. In case you still need more reasons to it, what about the fact that UNESCO named it a world heritage site in 2005 due to its bio diversity and right natural resources?

    Due to its ecological importance the Panamanian government decided to restrict the amount of people and tour operators that can visit the place. They are rare but you will be able to find eco tours in the form of birdwatching, fishing and scuba diving. Of course, you can also hang out at the beach as long as you don’t damage the plants or leave any trash.

    If you are lucky you might even find one spot available to camp in its small ranger’s station.

    Those looking for a place that feels untouched will feel at home here.  

  • 06 of 08

    Bocas del Toro, Panama

    I cheated again, this isn’t just one island. It is an archipelago with 11 of them. Some large and some quite large. They are all amazing but for this article I’ll focus on Bocas town, located in Colon Island (the largest).

    This is a much better option for those looking for a resort kind of vacation. In it you will find all sorts of hotels and resorts with every amenity you can think of. However the town is so small that everything is within walking distance.

    The beaches are amazing here but you should keep in mind that there are strong rip tides that might be dangerous if you are not aware of them. This males it perfect for surfers. There are tons of different sports that offer waves of different difficulties.

    Due to its biodiversity, diving is also an activity you should try when in the area.

    To get there all you need to do is take a boat or ferry. You could also fly there but I personally prefer taking the advantage of going on a boat ride. 

  • 07 of 08

    Belize’s coast is also guarded by a large coral reef on the Caribbean Sea. This allows it to have tons of tiny islands that they named Cayes. Ambergris Caye is the largest of them.

    Before the Europeans found the region this was a land of mangrove swamps surrounded by a white rim of sand and inhabited by a small Maya community. Now it is an important touristic destination that a lot of people use as home base for exploring the surrounding reef.

    That’s why you will find tons of hotels and restaurants in it, as well as a town offering any service you might need. There are even a couple of resorts on the northern side of the island.

    From here you can go on snorkeling, diving, horseback riding, biking and cruising tours. 

    To get there you get to choose between boat taxis and small planes.  

  • 08 of 08

    Caye Caulker is Ambergris Caye’s neighbor. Historically it was used by sailors, pirates and military fleets to replenish on fresh water.  

    Just as it happens in Honduras with Roatán and Utila, Caye caulker is the underrated brother. This is still mainly a fishermen town where you can find lobster at an extremely affordable price. There are also some hotels and restaurant but nothing large. Personally I prefer this one just because it isn’t so touristy yet.

    In it you will find small hotels, family owned restaurants and pretty much no cars, golf carts and bikes are the vehicles of choice.

    The beaches are also a lot less populated, you don’t need to get too far away from the town to feel as if you were on your own private beach. Plus locals tend to be a lot more laid back. 

Keep in mind that this list includes only a few my favorite islands of Central America. I know that there are tons of them in the region and you might have your own list of favorites. I would ove to know which your favorite are and whether you have visited any of the ones I just listed. I am definitely ready to visit some more with my family.