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5 Great, Affordable Beaches In Latin America (PHOTOS)

Posted: 03/10/2012 7:00 am

When we dream of paradise, we often dream of a beach and, more specifically, a Caribbean beach. The sugar white sands, perfect hammock-ready palm trees, and sparkling blue water combine brilliantly: This is the stuff of travel dreams. Unfortunately, those travel dreams often don't match reality, thanks to big hotel and resort development on the Caribbean islands that mars the beachfront, draws huge crowds of package tourists, and jacks up prices.

If you're still dreaming of a Caribbean-style beach paradise, however, you need not worry -- there's another part of the world, not far away, where you can still find all the things that make the Caribbean great, without the high prices or enormous crowds. In fact, it's still on the Caribbean Sea -- it's just on the other side in Central America.

The best reason for coming at the Caribbean from the opposite side is cost, but that's not the only perk. Central America has a well-established backpacker infrastructure that makes budget travel easy, it's not as popular with the honeymooner set (so you won't be the only solo traveler for miles), and transportation options are cheap, too. You still get all the water sports you can handle, plus things like Mayan ruins for when you're craving a cultural break from the beach.

Here are 5 great beach destinations in Central America.

Get more budget travel ideas:

5. Corn Islands, Nicaragua
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If the definition of a Paradise Island equals an isolated location ensconced within Swarovski crystal-like waters that is reef rich and full of rustic and ramshackle charm, the Corn Islands fit the bill perfectly. Located off mainland Nicaragua, the two Islas del Maiz, appropriately named Big Corn and Little Corn, are a far-flung retreat providing sanctuary from modern urban life. Carless Little Corn, which can be walked from tip to toe in under an hour, provides the starkest contrast to big city life, while Big Corn still exudes a sense of the undiscovered despite its larger size.

A tranquilo attitude is practically an entry requirement for the islands and things generally take their own sweet time. Pack your patience and set your heart rate to chilled-out and you'll be living the Corn Islands way of life in no time. When it comes to passing the day, the Caribbean Sea is the top attraction. However, Nicaragua is a land of diverse terrain and the jungle-clad interior of Big Corn makes for a welcome reprieve if all of your other activities have involved getting wet.

Lobster makes a regular appearance on the hand chalked menus thanks to the fishing cooperatives, and the board walk harbors, virgin beaches and sense of remoteness, make the islands the epitome of everything the large hotel chains seek to replicate ...except that the Corn Islands are not contrived. They are the genuine Caribbean deal.

Book a flight to Nicaragua or find a Nicaragua adventure tour
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Photo credits :ex_magician, christine zanino, mattbye, dane brian

 

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