Interested in authentic adventure travel? Here’s a list of thirteen of the best villages to visit in Latin America. You won’t be disappointed.
1. San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala
Home to the Tz’utujil Maya for centuries, colorful San Pedro la Laguna is a place where authentic culture meets extraordinary landscapes in brilliant fashion. Situated at the base of the towering San Pedro Volcano on Lake Atitlan, this quaint village boasts fascinating views of Lake Atitlan and the surrounding Guatemalan highlands.
2. Bocas del Toro, Panama
First visited by Christopher Columbus and his crew in 1502, this Caribbean archipelago is one of the most beautiful blue water destinations in the western hemisphere. Lined with colorful clapboard colonial houses, the sleepy town of Bocas was originally built by the United Fruit Company at the turn of the 20th century. Today, this distinctly Caribbean island town is home to a laid-back community of Western Indians, Rastafarians, Latinos, and expatriates.
3. Isla Holbox, Mexico
With sandy streets and virtually no cars, this forgotten island town is like Isla Mujeres must have been in the seventies. Accessible only by ferry from Chiquila, Holbox is a lesser-known mecca for whale watchers, kite surfers, and sun worshippers alike. If you’re looking for a world-class fishing experience, local guide Alejandro Vega (“Mr. Sandflea”) can put you on schools of 200-pound tarpon during the summer.
4. Isla del Sol, Bolivia
According the Inca legend, the creator-god Viracocha emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca to create the sun, moon, stars, and the first human beings. These first humans, the “Inca Adam and Eve” were placed on this secluded island on Lake Titicaca and ordered to go out and populate the world. Today, Isla del Sol remains a secluded island far from the hustle and bustle of modern civilization, and a journey to the island is often described as a trip back in time.
5. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Down a winding dirt road ridden with potholes, you’ll find this Pacific paradise on the tip of the Nicoya Peninsula. Packs of howler monkeys roam the canopy, schools of tuna and wahoo swim free a mere mile from the shore, and the beach breaks are continuously hammered with a seemingly endless onslaught of user-friendly south swells. Needless to say, this is a beach lover’s paradise.
6. El Chaltén, Argentina
Renowned as the adventure capital of Argentina, this small Patagonian village is snuggled beneath the towering Fitz Roy range and is considered the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park. The Fitz Roy range has gained international notoriety since the Patagonia clothing company used the iconic mountain range as its logo. If weather is in your favor, be sure to hike to Laguna de los Tres for a breathtaking view of Fitz Roy’s jagged face.
7. Chivay, Peru
Inhabited for more than 1,500 years, this ancient Andean village is nestled into one of the deepest canyons in the world. Despite the swaths of tourists that visit Machu Picchu every year, Colca Canyon has managed evade the crowds, and the villages in the area remain extremely traditional. Be sure to visit the nearby Mirador de los Condores to witness the world’s largest flying birds soaring through the canyon.
8. Caye Caulker, Belize
Located along the famous Belize Barrier Reef, Caye Caulker is a four-mile long island paradise. Though the island is no longer the secluded hideaway it once was, it remains the epitome a quaint, isolated, and relaxing Caribbean getaway. Unlike neighboring Ambergris Caye, you won’t find excessive noise or traffic here. What you will find are friendly locals and some of the most incredible blue water adventure opportunities in Central America.
9. San Martín de los Andes, Argentina
Nestled into the Argentinean Lake District, San Martín is a unique mountain town with a very European character. Known as the Gateway to Patagonia, this small wooden village has a distinct Swiss-mountain feel and receives far less traffic than nearby Bariloche. Here you can bike, swim, raft, ski, fish, hunt, or simply relax and enjoy the crisp mountain air.
10. San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Perched along the Pacific in the middle of the world’s driest desert, this bizarre adobe village is truly one of a kind. With starry skies and extraordinary vistas of weird and wonderful land formations, this dusty village features some of the most intriguing eco-lodges in South America and is a truly unique travel destination.
11. Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Situated within short reach of Montevideo, this quintessential Portuguese colonial town offers an unparalleled glimpse into colonial life. The old village contains fascinating examples of colonial affluence and several of the oldest structures in Uruguay.
12. Morro de São Paulo, Brazil
Snuggled into the canopy of a lush green island off the Brazilian coastline, this sleepy aldeia is one of the most laid-back beach destinations around. Car-free and stress-free, Morro de São Paulo is the perfect mélange of deserted beaches, aquatic adventure sports, and hip nightlife in an unspoiled setting.
13. Chugchilán, Ecuador
Perched high in the remote Ecuadorian Andes, tiny Chugchilán is an Andean gem with Kichwa culture, breathtaking scenery, hikes into stunning gorges, and some of the most unique eco-lodges in South America. Not to mention the village is situated on the Quilotoa Loop and is within close reach of the emerald-blue Laguna Quilotoa.