Exploring three of Central America’s most exciting countries on your gap year

On a map, the central area of the Americas appears to be only a slither, especially when compared to its northerly and southerly neighbours.

It is a part of the world that is often omitted when globetrotters-to-be plan out their gap adventure. 

Its Carribean coast, ancient indigenous history and migration from Europe has helped shape a distinct and offbeat series of countries, each with their own unique character. To demonstrate this, we’ve picked just three to include in your itinerary.

Costa Rica

Said to be coined by Spanish settlers, Costa Rica roughly translates as ‘The Rich Coast’, and it’s easy to see why: there are 800 miles of it. The motto of the nation is ‘Pura Vida’, which means ‘pure life’ and sums up the country’s attitude to living long and living well. But this doesn’t just concern just the human populace, as the country is well known for its commitment to conservation.

Arenal Volcano amongst luscious fauna
Arenal Volcano amongst luscious fauna 

This forward-thinking approach to the environment has helped create jobs in ecotourism, which has contributed to a strong economy. It is also the highest-ranking Latin American country in the Human Development Index.

Spending some time in Costa Rica would be excellent for someone pursuing a career in environmental science or just those who want to gain experience by helping to preserve nature.

The Spanish brought a strong sense of Catholicism with them
The Spanish brought a strong sense of Catholicism with them


Those a little ropey with learning another language will be happy to know that Belize is officially an English speaking country. But that isn’t the only reason to visit this intriguing part of the world. It’s long Caribbean coast and shared imperial history links it well to the Caribbean Islands, which has helped forge an amalgam of cultural features. For instance, it’s is common to find chicken, rice and beans and tortillas on the same menu when sampling traditional Belizean food.

The Carribean coastline is peppered with lovely little isles

Like Costa Rica, the country is also proud of its beautiful areas of natural beauty. For those wishing to enjoy some outdoor activities, Belize is great for snorkelling or swimming in its clear waters due to its coastline boasting the second biggest barrier reef on the planet.

Belize’s wildlife can be safely looked at in the capital’s zoo


A country that scarcely needs an introduction, Mexico is perhaps the most well-known Latin American country in the central region. Its history (such as the Aztec Empire, Mexican Revolution and demise of the one-party rule system) is also well documented and more widespread than its other counterparts.

We mentioned in our spring break feature how popular Cancun is with those wishing to let off some steam, and it is said that to truly enjoy tequila it must be slowly sipped in its homeland. But there is much more to the United Mexican States than being a place to party. Its ancient ruins and sites are magnificent feats of workmanship. The pyramid, Chichen Itza, is a wonder of the world.

Chichen Itza is a true marvel 

The Mexican landscape is rich and varied, from beautiful beaches to the snow-capped mountain of Citlaltépetl which makes it great for exploring.

There is so much on offer in the cities, too, and are known for their lively spirit. Those wishing to earn a bit of cash whilst passing through shouldn’t have trouble working in a bar that caters to tourists. TEFL courses are also very popular here and will help those wishing to learn Spanish in a Latin country.

Mexico City is a great place to immerse yourself in the learning of Spanish

What counties in Central America would you love to visit? Let us know in the comments below.

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