The Best Destinations in Central America to Rejuvenate the Body and Mind
September 26, 2019
By Danielle Owen

There’s something special about Central American countries. From their close ties with ancient traditions to the slow-cooked, made-with-love food, a visit to the area leaves you feeling grounded. 

In today’s globalized world, you can find many of these special cities have also adopted wellness traditions from around the world: yoga, meditation, and spiritual ceremonies all included. 

These three cities are my personal top choices for Central American vacation spots. They’ve evolved into the perfect destinations to rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul.

Each of these cities is surrounded by a uniquely powerful natural environment that lends itself to a growing culture of wellness-oriented offerings. And I left all of them feeling perfectly refreshed in body and mind. 

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Nestled in the volcanic mountains of central Guatemala, a few hours from colonial Antigua, Lake Atitlan is a haven of serenity. This 50-square-mile lake is the perfect place to hop between the waterfront towns (by water taxi— roads are few and far between up here). 

No matter what your soul needs, you’ll find it in one of Atitlan’s lakeside villages. 

San Marcos is a quiet yogi town, perfect for harnessing the lake’s spiritual energy. In San Marcos, you’ll find plenty of yoga classes, all the peaceful energy you need to regenerate, and homemade, locally-sourced food. Be sure to check out a Cacao Ceremony where you’ll use the cacao plant as physical and spiritual medicine, the way the ancient Mayans used to.

Across the lake in San Pedro, the backpacker spirit and let-loose party mentality are ideal for those looking to embrace human connection. 

Onward to Santa Cruz, this small town is the easiest place to relax in the local’s laidback vibes. Santa Cruz is perfect for chilling— whether it’s in a hammock or at the end of a dock, over the cool waters of the lake.

La Fortuna in Costa Rica

Travelers know that there are certain magical places around the world that just feel good.

In Costa Rica, that place is La Fortuna, a small boho village at the base of Arenal Volcano. 

You can follow the locals to the natural hot springs (look for the cars parked along the edge of the roads outside of town) or you can stay at one of the hotels that offer private hot spring access, fluffy bathrobe included. 

To get even more acquainted with local nature and wildlife, take a walk above the rainforest at the Hanging Bridges Park.

During my own time in La Fortuna, halfway through a hike around the volcano, I sat down on a rock and I remember thinking, “this may be the most at-peace I’ve ever felt”. And that pretty much sums up La Fortuna. 

Boquete in Panama 

This is the place to go if you’re looking for a relaxing nature retreat with a whole lot of doing nothing and not feeling bad about it. Wake up slowly, drink a coffee on your balcony overlooking the plantations where the beans were grown, and just chill

When you need some socialization, venture to Boquete Brewing Company, the town’s only brewery where locals frequently play live music and you can sip an IPA in peace.

If you need a kick of physical activity or a change of scenery, head on The Lost Waterfalls hike. A short ride out of town, the hike will wind you through the mountainside cloud forest to three different falls.

After I managed to hike behind one of the falls, I used the cascading water as a meditative escape from the outside world for a while. And really, is there anything more peaceful than meditating behind a wall of water in a Panamanian forest?

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About the Author

Danielle Owen
Danie is a full-time traveler and freelance travel writer. She’s been on-the-move since 2015 from Albania to Zambia (and 70+ others in between). She’s developed a very sophisticated algorithm that evaluates countries based on a thorough analysis of their wine, hot sauce, local friendliness, and how hard she happy-cries at their nature. You can find her portfolio at or her photos on Instagram @danieelizabeth