Choosing the Best Beaches in Central America for You 

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Counting down the best beaches in Central America is no easy task!

From the turquoise seas of Belize to the surfing hotspots of El Salvador and beyond, this tropical travel hotspot is a beach lover’s paradise. 

What Central American Country Has the Best Beaches?

Central America has some of the most stunning shorelines on the planet, so there is no one obvious top pick in this enchanted region.

Belize in Central America

To narrow it down to the best beaches in Central America, you’ve got to decide on what kind of trip you want. 

Craving an ultra chill escape where you watch the sunset over the horizon every evening?

Or would you rather have a non-stop adventure of surfing and tropical safaris?

If you’re still deciding on the style of your South American sojourn, here are some beaches that will inspire you.  

1. Placen​​cia, Belize

Placen​​cia, Belize in Central America
Placen​​cia, Belize

A formerly quiet fishing village, travelers from around the world now descend on Placencia to find their own little slice of paradise.

Whether it is hiking through the tropical rainforests, deep sea fishing, or taking in the wonders of the Mayan ruins, you can name your adventure in this Belizean wonderland.

And those beaches! Placencia has some of the best beaches in Belize if not all of Central America. 

The 16 miles of lush white sand beaches that make up the Placencia Peninsula are as close to a tropical paradise as you’ll find anywhere.

Maya Beach, Placencia Village, and Seine Bight are perfect for travelers looking for a seaside escape that blends culture, postcard-perfect beaches, and every water sport you can name. 

Where to Stay 

In the quaint village of Placencia, you’ll find the beachfront Belizean Nirvana.

With private balconies, barbeques, and beachfront hammocks, this place feels like a home away from home.

As a perk, they offer free bikes and kayaks to make exploring the gorgeous surrounding area easy. 

2. Caye Caulker, Belize

Caye Caulker, Belize in Central America
Caye Caulker, Belize

Looking for a chill escape where you can live on island time?

Just outside of the hustle and bustle of Belize City, you’ll find Caye Caulker.

With a distinctly Caribbean vibe and turquoise seas that you can’t help but jump into, Caye Caulker is the perfect place to disconnect. 

Go snorkeling, diving, or windsurfing here then make your way to one of the local eateries to watch the sunset.

Caye Caulker is an ideal place to disconnect or dance the night away at one of the countless party spots. 

Travel Tip – To uncover the hidden treasures of the Belize Barrier Reef, take a tour with an expert. The Caye Caulker: 7-Stop Snorkelling in the Belize Barrier Reef will show you the unforgettable rainbow of corals, manatees, turtles, and even a shipwreck.  

Where to Stay 

Nestled beside the second-largest barrier reef on the globe, Colinda Cabanas is a dreamy escape.

Watch the world pass by as you sway in your beachfront hammock.

When you’re ready to get out and explore, grab one of the complementary snorkeling kits, kayaks, and bikes. 

3. Emerald Coast, Nicaragua 

Emerald Coast, Nicaragua in Central America
Emerald Coast, Nicaragua

The Emerald Coast has a prime position between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Nicaragua, the biggest lake in Central America.

Thanks to its distinctive geography, this Nicaraguan hotspot has some of the best and most consistent surfing conditions on the planet. 

While international travelers used to shy away from Nicaragua (Central America’s poorest and most politically unstable country), things have changed.

Nicaragua has become one of the safest countries in Central America and is indeed safer than many cities in North America.

As Nicaragua becomes a more appealing destination, the world is seeing how much this magical place has to offer. 

Where to Stay 

Want to treat yourself? Book a sea view room with a balcony at Costa Oeste.

The sunsets here will make you want to rush back to your room every evening to take in the charmed view.  

4. Manuel Antonio Beach, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio Beach, Puntarenas, Costa Rica
Manuel Antonio Beach

Costa Rica is famous for its ecotourism and is a must-see for any nature lover.

While Manuel Antonio is the smallest of all the national parks in the country, it is also amongst the most beautiful.

Trek through the lush forests and take in the incredible local flora and fauna then make your way down to the beach.

Relax on the white sand beaches and watch the monkey swing by overhead. 

If you’re a nature lover looking for a beach escape, this is a dream destination. And, be sure to book one of the guided excursions that will teach you all about the local ecosystem.

Where to Stay  

With a prime location just five minutes on foot from Biesanz Beach and ten minutes to Manuel Antonio National Park Beach, Shana by the Beach Manuel Antonio is the first choice when it comes to accommodation in the Manuel Antonio Beach, Puntarenas area. 

5. Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Tamarindo beach in Guanacaste for surfing
Tamarindo beach

Another bucket list destination for animal lovers, Playa Tamarindo is a prime pitstop during your exploration of Las Baulas National Marine Park and Tamarindo Wildlife Refuge.

Meet the local leatherback turtles, and walk amongst the monkeys and crocodiles in the mangrove-lined tropical forests. 

A party town with a good selection of family resorts alongside a range of calm white sand beaches and surfing spots, there is something for everyone in Playa Tamarindo. 

Where to Stay 

In the mood to treat yourself to a luxe escape? Favela Chic Tamarindo is second to none.

Traveling with kids? Check out Les Voiles Blanches Luxury Lodge.

6. El Tunco, El Salvador

El Tunco, El Salvador in Central America
El Tunco, El Salvador

The famous surf town of El Tunco brings in wave lovers from around the globe.

In particular, the nearby Sunzal and La Bocana are famous for their consistent surfing conditions.

For experienced surfers and completely newbies alike, this is a lovely spot.

Even if you’ve never tried it before, there are fun surfing schools here that will turn your trip into something special. 

Even if you aren’t a surfer, El Tunco is a fabulous beach destination and a perfect starting point for exploring the rest of Central America.

Bring your camera to snap pics of incredible street art and the striking black lava sand beaches. 

Where to Stay 

In the heart of it all, Hotel & Bar La Guitarra is the place to be in El Tunco. Lounge on your private patio then head down for a barbeque in front of the sea. 


When it comes to the best beaches in Central America, you’ll find hidden treasures dotting the entire Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean coastline.

Need some more inspiration?

Check out these unforgettable tours: 

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