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Beaches in Central America

On World Beach Clean Up Day, a Homage to Our Beaches in Central America

We take a quick spin around the region to pay respect to our favorite beaches in Central America.

Apparently today is World Beach Day, according to social media. Twitter and Instagram are full of #WorldBeachDay, #DiaMundialDeLaPlaya, #InternationalCoastalCleanUpDay, and so on. Until now, we never knew beaches had a day. In fact, September is World Beach Month with the third Saturday dedicated to beach cleanups. Who’d a thunk it?

Never ones to pass up an easy excuse to highlight Central America’s beaches and cleanup programs, this is wonderful news to us. Plus the fact that the beaches are pretty much the reason we came to this part of the world in the first place.

After all, it’s a fact that Central America has the best beaches in the world. 

That’s indisputable. From the palm-fringed, tranquil Caribbean coasts of Belize and Honduras to the pounding tropical surf of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Guatemala, Central America has it all. Robinson Crusoe islands with dreamy white sands and turquoise seas in Nicaragua and Panama, rocky shores and black sand elsewhere.

Yep, Central America has it all.

Over the years we’ve highlighted a lot of our favorite beaches in Central America. We figured today would be a good time to highlight some of beaches we’ve shown you on this site through previous articles and social media posts from our faves. And we’ll also hook you up with some beach cleanup programs around the region to boot.

Let’s go to the beach!


There’s no doubt our favorite beach in Belize is Placencia. We’ve covered this place extensively and for good reason. Placencia is the definition of Caribbean chill, and a cool little town to boot, with some of the best beach bars in the region.

And talking of beach bars, if you want to help out, Placencia Awesome Water Sports at the Tipsy Tuna offer snorkel clean ups. Give them a shout for more info.

Costa Rica

Where do you start when looking for a great beach in Costa Rica? They’re everywhere, on two coasts. Our friend Alan Prendergast mentioned some of his favorites in this article, but to be fair, he could have added another ten. Or a hundred. Or five hundred.

If you want to help keep Costa Rica’s beaches pristine, join a beach clean up group when you visit. You can check in with Operation Rich Coast for programs all over the country.

El Salvador

El Salvador may be tiny, but its beaches compete with any in the region. Make that the world. It’s a surfer’s paradise, to be sure, but whether you’re in or out of the water, you’ll love the range of playas to visit in El Salvador.

Patricia Trigueros knows the beaches of her country like the back of her hand, and she’s written about them for us extensively. Listen to her for any beach guidance you need in El Salvador.

The whole Bitcoin thing in El Salvador may be controversial, but something everyone can agree on is the great work of Bitcoin Beach in El Zonte, which includes beach cleanups. If you’re in the area and want to help, hit them up.


Most travelers overlook Guatemala’s beaches and they shouldn’t. El Paredón and Monterrico offer some of the best Pacific beach experiences on the isthmus, while over on the Caribbean side the area around Livingston offers white sanded paradise with a Garifuna twist. Next time you’re in Guatemala, you need to get out of the highlands and head down to sea level.

Our favorite place to stay in El Paredón is the Driftwood Surfer. And by total coincidence, they’re also the best people to ask about beach clean ups and other volunteer programs. They have their finger on the pulse of everything going on in this Guatemalan beach community.


Honduras is a Caribbean paradise. On the mainland, green mountains come crashing into the Caribbean Sea, while the Bay Islands – home of Central America’s best diving – of Roatán, Uitla, and Guanaja sparkle in the far distance.

If you like calm, clear waters and a rum-infused Caribbean vibe, you can’t go wrong with any beach in Honduras. Check out the Punta Sal National Park or the Cayos Cochinos if you want a real treat to take your breath away.

And as for beach clean ups go, check out the work Canadian expat Brad Campkin’s doing in Trujillo with his Clean Beaches Honduras initiative. Admirable.


If you’re looking for the best beach or surf town in Central America, look no further than San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The place has it all – history, an ever-so-slight-edge, bars and restaurants galore, a great community, year-round heat, plus access to some of the most glorious beaches in the world. We love San Juan del Sur and we’re not afraid to admit it.

Elsewhere in Nicaragua, look north to Tola and the Emerald Coast including Playa Gigante, Popoyo, Jiquelte, and more. If you’re a surfer, you’ll never want to go anywhere else, especially when those offshores from Lake Nicaragua blow. Then there’s Peñitas further up north, near León. And never forget the Corn Islands in the Caribbean. We could go on and on and on.


And finally Panama, the country with the longest coastline in Central America. Stands to reason you’ll find some glorious beaches here, right?

We love the Bocas del Toro most of all. These Caribbean islands lie right next to the Costa Rica border and provide everything any beachgoer needs. Surf, snorkeling, desert islands, nightlife, and vibes galore.

But then you also have the Azuero Peninsula with Santa Catalina, Venao, and others. Plus Boca Chica in Chiriqui, the Pearl Islands, Isla Granda, San Blas, and so much more. You’re always close to a beach in Panama, and chances are it’s a glorious one.

If you’re looking for a beach clean up program in Panama, you’ll find one where there are tourists. In the Bocas del Toro, contact Nico at the Bocas Breeze. He’s in the know about all these things.

That’s our quick homage to our beautiful beaches in Central America wrapped up.

We could have gone on forever with this, but we hope you’ll take up the reins and carry on for us. Let us know your favorite beaches in the region. There’s never a wrong answer here!

Have a great weekend and see you at the beach.

James Dyde is the editor of He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.

James Dyde

James Dyde

James Dyde is a British immigrant to Costa Rica and the editor of this website. He has lived in Central America since 2000 and retains a deep love for the region. He lives in Escazu, Costa Rica.