The island of Cozumel, just off the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, is home to the Mesoamerican Reef, the largest of its kind in the Americas—an underwater world of hundreds of fish, sea turtles and other creatures that put on a show for the many divers that come from around the world to explore its tunnels and caves.
About four million years ago, give or take a millennium, a fortunate collision of underwater continental places heaved up a great mass of stone, creating a steep and narrow isthmus separating the Pacific Ocean from the Caribbean Sea, linking the then-existing continents of North and South America.
Costa Rica has become synonymous with ecotourism travel, capturing the hearts of those interested in spectacular scenery (volcanoes to rainforests to beaches), biological diversity (100 species of frogs!) and adventure sports (river rafting, hiking, scuba diving, surfing, ziplining, for starters) that capitalize on the great outdoors.
The smallest country in Central America, El Salvador, is filled with important Mayan ruins, fine craft traditions alive and well in country villages, jungle peaks that brush the sky, lines of volcanic cones rising over lakes and valleys, and a Pacific shoreline where surfers push off from white and black beaches to meet world-class waves.
Not only is it the transportation gateway to the rest of the country, but Guatemala City is also a cosmopolitan capital that offers a compelling mix of new shopping centers and traditional markets, fine hotels, very good restaurants, a lively nightlife and excellent museums.
The business and commercial center of Honduras is San Pedro Sula, whose leading choices for home-away-from-home comforts are stays at the Real InterContinental and Hilton Princess, although travelers looking for some quiet charm might enjoy the Isabella Boutique Hotel located in the Barrio Los Andes.