Where to go with little ones?
They have some jungle, but far better mountains unless you go as far as Tikal.
Panama would be more expensive and more civilised, in terms of arrangements for children with possibly delicate stomachs, not to mention more comfortable transport and housing options.
That being said, Lago Atitlan is a fantastic place for everyone, including children. You cannot top Tikal as a jungle destination.
Honduras has Copan- but not much else besides diving for the average tourist.
-Granada and Ometepe, Nicaragua. Granada's got history and colonial architecture, while Ometepe has wilderness and volcanoes (two of them).
-Panama. If the kids like sailing, I'd take them on a trip through San Blas/Kuna Yala. There's history at Portobelo and at a few places in Panama City (Casco Viejo and Panama Vieja). You could also take them on a tour of the Panama Canal.
Here's a link to the warning
Sure this is erring on the side of caution, however due to the increase in drug related violence, why take the chance, especially when travel in the area is new to you.
As far as Guatemala is concerned, I love the country but would never travel there or Honduras/Costa Rica with a young family. Guatemala isn't known for it's beaches anyway & even Antigua isn't as safe as it was a couple years ago. Besides Guatemala City & San Jose have to be the cesspools of the world.
Panama has money from the canal to keep things more under control than it's poorer neighbors but still has a couple areas to avoid.
There's nothing wrong with Panama, though...
It's just that it doesn't fulfill the requirements. There's no mention of beaches in Kings' post. There is a mention of history. Panama doesn't excel in this regard. The only truly colonial area of the country that I've found is in the Casco Viejo. It's lovely in it's broken down decrepitude, and I don't say that facetiously. The problem is that seeing the Casco would take even the most plodding looker less than a day. The Panama Canal is arguably historical...But to see that takes two hours, max...and at the end of the day. It's a just a couple of locks that you're getting to look at.
Other towns in the country do contain a colonial church or two...but those are the only Colonial buildings left, really.
PTY is just a poor version of a North American city. It's a wash. And the country is just as broken down and shifty as either Honduras or southern Guat. Honduras does have several colonial towns. It has a good set of ruins....and I think I may have seen a child or two in the country, meaning that at least some survive there. Both Guat and Honduras, especially the areas I suggest, are well appointed to handle families of every stripe and have a good tourism infrastructure. Copan Ruinas is a picturesque colonial town and is, in my opinion after a dozen visits, safe as houses. And you can take a nice walk to the ruins themselves, seeing the Stelae that are not contained by the park.
You're unusually alarmist this time, busman, considering you are a banner bearer for a fairly crummy cesspool town. Sometimes I feel you might be engaging in disinformation for some reason or another.
That said, I don't deny that Guat City is a pretty cruddy city. Teguz is better, but you have no reason to go there. If you land in GUA, Kings, you are nowhere near a dangerous area. You can be on a bus towards nice tourist-friendly Antigua ten minutes after you pick up your luggage.
We stayed in Ambergris Caye. The north part of the island is better for families; the south part is more party-oriented. We were able to get a good deal on a "villa" in a small complex that had just opened, Belizean Shores. At the time we were there, there were 12 units and they cost under $100/night; now there are 48 and they rent for $105 to $259/night depending on the time of year. There are probably good deals around the island if you hunt for them. We ate some meals out and prepared others in our unit. The snorkeling was great!
We also flew to Lamanai, and then took a boat into the jungle to see some temple ruins. It was terrific. There were only 2 other visitors and the tour guide with us, so we got to go at our own pace.
Kids aged 7 and 3 are not going to appreciate Antigua. They certainly aren't going to appreciate long and frequent bus trips.
And I have to disagree that Panama has no history. There's the aforementioned Casco Viejo, there's Panama Viejo, there's Portobelo. Most importantly, there's the canal, which was probably the most important development of the past two centuries of Central American history. Panama is also much more developed than anywhere in CA. Panama City is a bustling modern city in most parts. I'd feel much more comfortable bringing young children to Panama than trying to herd them from one chicken bus terminal to another in the maelstrom of Guatemala City.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but my other recommendation with young kids would be Costa Rica. They are set up for it.
You are correct about Portobello...I'd forgotten about that. Panama Viejo lives and dies by the one bell tower, though...Still, you're right...It's history. I'm not anti Panama...just its city.
There are chicken buses everywhere in the region...Just don't travel on them and take another one. Antigua can get you on a nice bus loaded with other tourist familes for...and I refer to the pamphlet that I found from Antigua last year.....for 15 bucks a head. It takes time, but they all take time.
Panama City, as I've said before, is filled with American restaurants and American service. If you go to that section, you're in America. Is that what their trip is about, do you think? You can stay in two nice towns surrounded by jungle and giving a flavour of another kind of life if you stay out of the cities...
Anyway...There's a couple of good suggestions. Let us know what you decide for curiousity's sake. Have a good trip.
tikal is too cool to miss, flores is a gem and is on a very safe island, and now with the soldiers around I don't think you would have any trouble.
OP, I seriously think Granada and Ometepe, Nicaragua would be a good fit too.
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