Every country in Central America now receives international flights, mostly from the U.S. and Mexico. Below is a quick country-by-country glance.
The following carriers offer service to Belize City's Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE).
From the U.S. -- American Airlines, Continental, Grupo Taca (via San Salvador), and US Airways.
The only direct flights from Canada are seasonal winter charters. There are no direct flights to Belize from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, mainland Asia, or Africa.
Most international flights land at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City. A few international and regional airlines fly directly into Flores Airport (FRS) near Tikal.
From the U.S. & Mexico -- American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Mexicana, United Airlines, US Airways, and Grupo Taca.
There are no direct flights from Europe but it is easy to get a connection from New York or Miami.
The following carriers fly to San Pedro Sula's Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport, Tegucigalpa's Toncontín International Airport, or Roatán International Airport:
From North America -- Air Canada, American, Continental, Delta, United, Taca, and Spirit.
From the U.K. & Europe -- There are no direct flights, but Delta, Continental, and American Airlines connect through the U.S.
From Australia & New Zealand -- There are no direct flights, but connections can be made in North American gateway cities.
To El Salvador
The following carriers fly into San Salvador's Comalapa International Airport:
From North America -- American, Continental, Delta, and Taca.
From the U.K., Europe, Australia & New Zealand -- There are no direct overseas flights from the U.K., Australia, or New Zealand. You'll need to fly first into the U.S., with many European flights routing out of Miami and Houston to San Salvador.
The following carriers offer service to Managua's Augusto C Sandino International Airport:
From the U.S. -- American Airlines, Continental, Delta, United Airlines, Spirit, and Taca.
From Mexico -- Aeroméxico.
From Europe -- Iberia (via Miami).
To Costa Rica
International flights land in San José's Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) and to a lesser extent Liberia's Daniel Oduber International Airport (LIR), which has easier access to the beaches of Guanacaste region.
From the U.S. -- Air Canada, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Grupo Taca, Mexicana, Spirit Air, and US Airways.
From Europe -- Iberia and Martin Air.
The following airlines fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY) in Panama City:
From the U.S. & Mexico -- American Airlines, Copa, Delta, Mexicana, and Taca.
From the U.K. & Europe -- Iberia (via Costa Rica), American Airlines (via Miami), British Airways (via Miami), Continental (via Orlando or Houston), and Delta (via Atlanta).
From Australia & New Zealand -- Qantas and Air New Zealand (both via Los Angeles).
By Cruise Ship or Ferry
Luxury cruise liners now sail frequently along the Caribbean and Pacific coast via the Panama Canal. Two reputable companies are Miami-based Seabourn Cruise Line (tel. 800/929-9391; www.seabourn.com) and Californian-based Princess Cruises (tel. 845/075-0031; www.princess.com).
Some key international ferry crossings are between Punta Gorda, Belize, and Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. You can cross into Flores, Guatemala, from Palenque in Mexico. There is a river crossing between San Carlos, Nicaragua, and Los Chiles, Costa Rica.
It's possible to travel to Central America by car, but it can be difficult, especially for U.S. citizens. After leaving Mexico, the Pan-American Highway (Carretera Panamericana), which is also referred to as the Interamerican Highway, passes through Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica before reaching Panama. All of these countries can be problematic for travelers for a variety of reasons, including internal violence, crime, corrupt border crossings, and visa formalities. If you do decide to undertake this adventure, take the Gulf Coast route from the border crossing at Brownsville, Texas, because it involves traveling the fewest miles through Mexico. You might also try to find a copy of Driving the Pan-Am Highway to Mexico and Central America, by Audrey and Raymond Pritchard.
Anyone driving into Central American countries needs to show a passport, country or international driver's license, proof of vehicle ownership, such as registration card, and proof of insurance. Cars are normally granted 30-days visitation. Many consulates also offer prevalidation of driver's documents, which can quicken the process at the border.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.