10 Awe-Inspiring (yet affordable) Airbnbs to Stay in Central America.

Eagles nest lake atitlan, san marcos la laguna, best places to stay lake atitlan

Airbnb has changed the way I travel. Instead of pouring hours of research into finding unique accommodations during my Central America trip, I decided to rely on Airbnb and found private islands, organic farms and artistic, off-the-grid homes in the lap of active volcanoes – all at prices I could afford!

Behold, the coolest places to stay in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama:

1) The Eagle’s Nest: Guatemala

Eagles nest lake atitlan, san marcos la laguna, best places to stay lake atitlan
Stunning views from my studio’s deck.

Perched above Lake Atitlan in the village of San Marcos La Laguna, this all-wooden, solar-powered studio was my home for a blissful week. Swaying on my hammock with surreal views of three magnificent volcanoes and the azure lake melted away my writer’s block. The breeze carried with it aromas from the coffee and cherry farms nearby, and like an eagle perched in her nest, I keenly observed the local Mayan people (Read: Living With a Mayan Family in Guatemala) in the village below as they went about their daily lives.

INR 1595 (US$26) per night; San Marcos la Laguna; www.airbnb.com/rooms/3369707  

2) Dolphin Bay Cabanas: Panama

Dolphin bay cabanas panama, panama airbnb, bocas del toro airbnb
Relaxation rancho at Dolphin Bay Cabanas.

I can’t forget the surreal feeling of waking up in a cozy cabana to the calming sound of the Atlantic Ocean in our front yard. From our relaxation rancho, we saw wild dolphins and their kids, a sting ray jump out of the water, schools of fish emitting a silver light, shooting stars in the dark skies, and bioluminescence (glowing algae) in the dark waters! We snorkeled amid magnificent corals and scores of starfish, and were enthralled with stories of island-living by our Belgian-Colombian hosts. It was like living inside a National Geographic film!

INR 3696 (US$60) per night; Bocas Del Toro islands; www.airbnb.com/rooms/2164933

3) Finca Montania Segrada: Nicaragua

Finca montania segrada ometepe, ometepe airbnb, nicaragua airbnb
A different kind of island living. Photo via Airbnb.

After days of hiking, volcano boarding, crammed buses and the staple gallo pinto, this organic finca (farm) hidden away in a forest on Ometepe Island rejuvenated my soul. Our rustic-looking hut came with creature comforts (Wifi included) and panoramic views of Volcan Concepcion and Maderas, whose summits are perpetually veiled by a halo-like cloud! We spent our days kayaking and cycling around the volcanoes, and feasting on delicious pastas cooked by our Italian hosts.

INR 2279 (US$37) per night; Merida, Ometepe island; www.airbnb.com/rooms/854048 

4) Surf Vista Villas: Costa Rica

costa rica airbnb, santa teresa airbnb, surf vista villas
View of the Pacific from the room at Surf Vista Villas. Photo via Airbnb.

I can’t stop dreaming about being perched in that trendy room, watching the sun set on the majestic Pacific Ocean. I spent half my Costa Rica trip (Read: Costa Rica Wasn’t the Country I Imagined) cycling along the stunning blue waters and soft beaches of the Pacific, chatting with fishermen and city dwellers-turned-islanders, and observing puffer fish at low tide – and the only thing missing was a private hilltop to call my own!

INR 4927 (US$80); Santa Teresa; www.airbnb.com/rooms/21839

5) La Villa de Soledad: Honduras

honduras airbnb, la ceiba honduras, pico bonito honduras, la villa de soledad honduras
Mountain biking between Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios national parks.

Honduras’ scary labels almost scared us off (Read: We Travel to Realize Everyone is Wrong About Other Countries), but we fell in love with the country the moment we arrived at La Villa de Soledad. This boutique B&B is the home of a Hondureño-Mexican family, straddling the Pico Bonito and Nombre de Dios National Parks, with the River Cangrejal soothingly flowing below. We spotted toucans from our hammock, and spent our days mountain biking, kayaking and zip-lining in the surrounding forests.

INR 5851 (US$95) per night; La Ceiba; www.airbnb.com/rooms/3937462 

6) Blue Morpho: Costa Rica

San Jose airport accommodations, Blue Morpho alajuela, alajuela airbnb
Deep in the forest, yet close to civilization.

While looking for a place to crash near the airport before an early morning flight out of Costa Rica, I stumbled upon an eco-conscious retreat called Blue Morpho, and wished I could stay longer. It’s a five-minute drive from the international airport, but a world in itself, with an entire forest in your backyard and a pool fed with spring water deep within! Enough said.

INR 3080 (US$50); Alajuela; www.airbnb.com/rooms/4155703

7) La Pepita de Marañon: Panama

las lajas panama, panama airbnb, la pepita glass cottage
Walls made of recycled bottles at La Pepita. Photo via Airbnb.

I haven’t yet shaken the thought of staying in a little cottage made with recycled bottles that shine with kaleidoscopic colors as the sun rises! And the little that I could find online about Las Lajas made it sound like my kind of village, with a glimpse of the native tribal culture in a country where the expats seem to outnumber locals, and an unspoilt stretch of the Pacific coastline.

INR 2710 (US$44); Las Lajas; www.airbnb.com/rooms/433689

8) The Wood House: Nicaragua

wood house rio san juan, nicaragua airbnb, nicaragua offbeat
The wood house by the River San Juan.

I met so many Airbnb hosts on this trip who gave up their urban lifestyles, found a piece of land to call their own, and built something incredible. The Wood House on the River San Juan is one such place. A fifteen minute boat ride away from the remote fishing village of El Castillo near the Costa Rican border, it gave us the chance to live like the river dwellers of Nicaragua – amid the sounds of the forest, howler monkeys, exotic birds, jumping fish, lashing rain and countless rainbows.

Update: The Wood House is now Guacimo Eco-Lodge – and changing the way we travel!

9) ‘EnSuite Volcano’: Guatemala

Airbnb antigua guatemala, where to stay in antigua guatemala
View of the Antigua rooftops from my hammock.

My love affair with Guatemala began with the ancient and charming Spanish city of Antigua (Read: My Impressions of Guatemala). 15 minutes away from the bustling city centre, I stayed in this artsy colonial-style house in a traditional residential neighborhood. My mornings began on the rooftop, with uninterrupted views of Volcano Agua and a glimpse of the locals going about their chores in their courtyards. I cycled around the cobblestoned lanes, rode on the chicken bus, and practiced my broken Spanish with friendly neighbors.

INR 1848 (US$30) per night; Antigua Guatemala; www.airbnb.com/rooms/1879790

10) El Respiro Ecolodge: Nicaragua

El respiro ecolodge granada nicaragua, granada nicaragua airbnb
Possible the best place to stay in Central America!

Pure serendipity. Our last-minute travel style left us scrambling to find a nice place to stay in the busy Christmas – New Year week when everything was sold out. We took a chance on the newly listed El Respiro Ecolodge on the countryside of Granada and were completely blown away. This is the beautifully handcrafted home of a French-Hungarian couple, in the lap of Volcano Mombacho, run entirely on solar power, with rainwater harvesting and its own organic farm. We couldn’t get enough of the panoramic views from our deck, the starry skies, the gourmet food (the hosts used to run an Italian resto) and the infinity pool.

INR 6159 (US$100); Granada; www.airbnb.com/rooms/4128408

If you’re not on Airbnb yet, sign up with my referral link to get INR 1500 (US$25) off your first booking!


Note: I handpicked all Airbnbs for my Central America trip (the ones listed above stood out; you can read my reviews for all others through my Airbnb profile). Airbnb India partnered with me to put together this list. 


What is the most awe-inspiring (yet affordable) place you’ve found on your travels?

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Check out: Why I’m Using Airbnb and Why You Should Too

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  1. adityachintha says:

    You are the Best Traveler!!! And Yeah U deserve the name ” The Shooting Star” 🙂

  2. Seems like a great list Shivya! Costa Rica is really high up on my ‘must visit’ list, and would love to travel more around Central America too. Will definitely be checking some of these places out! 🙂


    1. Thanks! As much as I loved Costa Rica, I wouldn’t have missed Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Panama. Hope you get a chance to check out these countries too.

  3. Amazing list. As usual, every one of your blog post is worth bookmarking 🙂

    There, I think this is the beginning of my trip 🙂

    1. Thanks Param, that made my day! Hope that’s one hell of a trip for you 🙂

  4. wow the views are amazing!! you don’t get that even after paying a price. Thank you for sharing your experience, . I need to check out airbnb

    1. All the best, pay attention to the reviews of the accommodations that appeal to you, that helps!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, as always. My friend travelled through Brazil with Airbnb and got to see the most beautiful places, homes and people.

    1. That’s awesome, Cornelia. I plan to use it wherever I go next as well! Have you tried it yet?

  6. Awesome post Shivya.. I will try AirBNB for sure 🙂

  7. thetraveloholic says:

    Great post…. very tempting…. 🙂

  8. Lovely post and snaps….your writing is so magical….

  9. Cameron Brown says:

    Thank you for this report. I will want to visit Costa Rica, this year.

  10. suvasiniiyer says:

    You have an incredible style of story-telling!! and your pics talk for themselves!

  11. Pingback: 10 Awe-Inspiring (yet affordable) Places to Stay in Central America. | The Talking Sloth - Asia
  12. You’re inspiring a lot @shivya Every women has to learn the courage from you.

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  15. Loved reading your blog!! Well, I recently retired after 28 years of teaching and In 10 days I’m leaving for a six month adventure, beginning in Mexico, then Belize and all of Central America. Anxious to get out of my comfort zone, but as an overweight, 55 year old with knee problems, it may be slow going lol. Thanks for sharing so much useful information 😊

  16. Hello Dear, You are amazing. I also Love travelling. I also want to explore such kind of Destination. And also want this kind of thrill in my life. Pl guide me from where i get start up.

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