News Stories Tagged central america
Panama City's got a bit of everything—history mixed with the new and modern, a low-key but still metropolitan vibe. And with two new resorts on Playa Bonita, it's got a beach within a stone's throw.
Looking to get away? Private islands offer the kind of seclusion for those who mean business. But they vary wildly in how hard they hit the wallet. Read on for budget-friendly options...and a few indulgences.
The vibrantly colored red-eyed tree frog, like the white tent bat, sometimes rests on the underside of large jungle leaves; gently turn a few leaves over as you're hiking and take a peek. You might get lucky.
The dollar is the de facto currency; the Panamanians refer to it as the balboa, named for explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa who "discovered" the Pacific Ocean and claimed it for Spain.
The best way to experience the incomparable Maya ruins is to get up just before the birds do, from a hotel within the park, and head toward the deserted plaza with a guide. From the top of one of the scalable pyramids the well-trained guards can show you an enormous array of wildlife that disappears from the park during the day.
Antigua's streets are full of women and children peddling their wares, but only converse with them if you're serious about buying. The vendors get aggressive, and will follow you around in the hope that you'll break down and buy something.
Beach breaks are the best type for beginners. Waves break over sandbars and the seafloor. Jacó, Hermosa, and Sámara are all beach breaks. Point breaks are created as waves hit a point jutting into the ocean.
The Blue Flag ecological rating system evaluates water quality—both ocean and drinking water—trash cleanup, waste management, security, signage, and environmental education. Blue flags are awarded to communities, rather than to individual hotels, which feeds a sense of cooperation.
The ubiquitous Tourist Information signs you see around downtown are really private travel agencies looking to sell you tours rather than provide unbiased information. The ICT is the official tourist office.
Guatemala's network of red public buses logs dozens of thefts (and a few armed robberies) each day. Your chances as an outsider of escaping unscathed are slim, so we advise against using the system.
Many people here love a spirited discussion about the direction the country should take. If your Spanish is up to the task, don't be afraid to listen in—though within the confines of the local cantina, take what you hear with a grain of salt.
A luggage weight limit of 11.3 kilograms or 25 pounds is almost always enforced on the tiny domestic planes.
Drink only bottled water, called agua purificada or agua mineral. It is available even at the smallest stores, and is much cheaper than in North America. Use bottled water even when brushing your teeth.
In many Central American countries, a 10% to 15% tip is already built into the bill. Leave a little extra if your experience was really fantastic.
Tip only for good service. Costa Rica doesn't have a tipping culture, but positive reinforcement goes a long way. Taxi drivers aren't tipped, but leave an extra 200â€“300 colones if they've helped you navigate a complicated set of directions.
Lent is a popular time for travel in Central America, especially the week before Easter (April 24). Revealing clothing is frowned upon, especially in more rural areas. Be quiet when visiting a house of worship, and don't photograph people praying.
No food is more typically Salvadoran: it's a fried tortilla filled with beans, cheese, and/or chicharrÃ³n (pork skin). A pupusa called a revuelta has all three fillings mixed together.
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