Friday Five: Central America Escapes

islas secas

Escape to Islas Secas for a true retreat. (Photo from islassecas.com)

There’s a lot to see in Central America. With so many places to explore it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to go first. This Friday, I say why not start with a four or five day getaway to one of these chic resorts, each offering a unique slice of scenic beauty and culture:

The Harmony Hotel, Costa Rica: This retro-glam surfer hideaway is located in Nosara, Costa Rica, quite close to the breaks on Playa Guiones. The hotel’s design scheme is reminiscent of a low-key but comfortable 70s resort, with modern amenities including free wi-fi, pool, yoga, massages, a restaurant serving organic local fare and sustainable materials throughout.

Ballum Na, Belize: Ballum Na means “house of the jaguar,” and this luxury lodge is situated in the heart of Belize’s Boden Creek Preserve. When you stay here you’re immersed in the jungle habitat (two jaguars live on the grounds!), but also pampered by upscale features like jacuzzi tubs, all-inclusive gourmet meals and drinks, and daily guided activities that allow you to explore the flora and fauna of the rainforest.

La Lancha, Guatemala: Part of Francis Ford Coppola’s collection of intimate resorts, La Lancha is in the middle of the rainforest, above the shore of Lake Peten Itza. The 10 quaint casitas contain Guatemalan furniture and textiles, and each provides views of either the lake or the rainforest. The open-air restaurant prepares local dishes all day, and cool activities abound–fill your days with sunrise birdwatching, visits to the Mayan ruins of Tikal, horseback riding, canoeing and Spanish lessons, then unwind by the split-level pool.

Islas Secas, Panama: In this group of 16 islands 12 miles off the Pacific coast of Panama, seven rustic-luxe casitas are available. Since no more than 14 guests are present at any time, this is truly a place to get away from it all and enjoy the beauty of these pristine volcanic islands. Fish, dive, hike and lounge on the beach to your heart’s content. When you’re hungry, resident chef Alexander Rojas serves up a creative fusion of international and local Panamanian dishes.

Morgan’s Rock, Nicaragua: This hacienda and eco-lodge just north of the Costa Rican border is thoroughly green, with its tree farming, conservation and reforestation projects extending over 1,800 hectares. Bungalow accommodations feature exotic national woods and private decks, and their seclusion in the forest landscape adds ultimate privacy. The rich bio-diversity of the area means there’s plenty to see on various guided nature walks, and at chow-time, you’re given a taste of different culinary specialties, fusing Nicaraguan, Central and South American, French and Asian cuisines.

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