September 12, 2003 -- Nicaragua and Honduras are destinations for the adventurous. Less built-up than neighboring Costa Rica, these Central American countries offer natural beauty that isn't (yet) swarmed by hordes of tourists.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, is turning into the playground of Central America. This peaceful, democratic country, the richest in the region, offers tourists everything from wild natural parks to full-service resorts. We have a full guide to Costa Rica online at www.frommers.com/destinations/costarica.
The more inviting of the two other nations is Honduras, which is impoverished but gorgeous. The northern coast of Honduras offers plenty of snorkeling, diving and beachcombing opportunities in its Caribbean waters; the nation is also home to Mayan ruins, colonial cathedrals and national parks full of tropical wildlife. Some parks are so undeveloped, you have to take two days' worth of buses to get there and bring your own tent. If you're looking for a close-in getaway untouched by modern tourism, you've found it.
October is the off-season in Central America, the best time for bargain hunters. Afternoon rains thin out the tourist crowds, and you don't see throngs of people fleeing northern winters yet. To figure out if a fall vacation in Central America is for you, check out our "When to Go page.
Iberia is right now offering super-low fares to these shoestring destinations, with $109 nonstops from Miami to San Pedro Sula in Honduras and Managua in Nicaragua for all departures through October 31. We had a devil of a time finding available seats at these fares, but as seats are continually becoming available, you may have more luck. Try by going to www.iberia.com/OneToOne/gateway_us.jsp and clicking on the "Offers" box on the right hand side of the page.
Iberia's cheap fares to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, are much more easily available. We had no problem booking a $189 fare ($241 including taxes and fees) from Miami to San Jose on Iberia's Web site. As with the Honduras and Nicaragua fares, these fares are available for trips departing by Oct. 31.
All of Iberia's sale fares are at least $100 below any other fare we could find to these destinations. If you can snag one, go for it. These fare specials have no expiration date on them, so they could disappear at any time.
If you've been to Costa Rica, Honduras or Nicaragua, please share your experiences on our Latin American Message Boards. We love to read detailed trip reports, and choose the best to publish in our Newsletter.