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Guatemala to Belize: Local Traditions & Tropical Wildlife11 days from $2,549 (USD)
Sharing a border and deep cultural connections to the mysterious Mayans, Guatemala and Belize are world-renowned biodiversity hotspots.
Explore Central America: Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama13 days from $2,999 (USD)
Central America offers a feast for the senses.
Central America is but a thin strip of land connecting North and South America, but it is big on fascination and personality. The tropical countries that make up this region are perennially-popular travel destinations, thanks to great weather and the lush beauty that is one of Central America’s biggest selling points. Deep, green rainforests and sandy beaches distinguish the topography, and outdoor sporting of all kinds of par excellence here. Kayaking, jungle trekking, diving, fishing, and whale watching are just a few examples.
Lest you think that Central America is just a pretty place to visit, know that its living treasures feature heavily in its appeal. Not only are the people warm and friendly, but there are a number of stunning cultural attractions to be enjoyed, among them mindblowing Mayan ruins and the remnants of old Mexican colonial ruins. If you are a fan of wildlife interactions, know that the heritage biospheres here are teeming with more creatures (big and small!) than you could possibly imagine.
Although Mexico is technically a part of North America, it shares so much in the way of culture and language with the seven nations of Central America that it is often grouped in with them as well.
Central America Top Sights
Belize is primed to steal Costa Rica’s crown as the tourism superstar of Central America! Tremendous diversity of flora and fauna, as well as burgeoning eco-tourism make this a glorious stop for those in love with the wild kingdom. Indeed, those desiring an authentic Central American “love the Earth” kind of good time will have their fill here. Inviting tropical cays, gorgeous rainforests, and an exquisite barrier reef all invite you to explore. Sleepy small towns, humming beach bars, and trees alive with birdsong all await.
If you savor peace and quiet, Costa Rica is the place for you. This tropical paradise has been a byword for natural beauty for ages, and its reputation is well-deserved. You’ll explore volcanoes (dormant and active—there are plenty of them!), zipline through the jungle canopy, dive deep into blue waters, and raft the rivers. This is a haven for adrenaline junkies, but there’s a softer side to this land as well. Drink in the sights of pre-Columbian treasure at the museums of San Jose, sip some of the justifiably-famous coffee, or simply sun yourself on Manuel Antonio—the options are endless.
The combined historic influences of Mayan settlement and Spanish colonialism have imbued Guatemala with a distinctive and extraordinary culture that’s well worth exploring! The old Mayan settlements are fascinating; Tikal and El Mirador are the largest. If you have an archeological bent or simply like some education mixed with your pleasure, these should be considered must-sees. On a similar note, Antigua Guatemala is the site of one of the largest colonial Spanish settlements, and is now protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adventure tourism is outstanding here: birdwatching, kayaking, hiking ruins, and fishing are all popular diversions.
There’s ample reason that Mexico is one of the world’s most-visited countries. Not only is the sun warm and shiny, but there are scores of other fantastic attributes to recommend it: deep, green jungles rife with fascinating ruins, beaches blessed by teal-blue water and soft beaches, and engrossing culture are some of the others. (Oh, and the food is fantastic!) If you are a fan of outdoor pursuits, you are going to love it here. From deep-sea fishing and kayaking to hiking and snorkeling, Mexico has you covered. Extraordinary ruins, of which Chichen Itza is only the largest, wait to dazzle you!
Yes, a large canal runs through it… but there is much more to Panama. The nation is framed neatly by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, with all sorts of wild wonder in between! Panama’s interior is known for its splendid wildlife and outstanding biological diversity. Like much of Central America, this is a mecca for the active. Whether you are exploring the jungle on the lookout for monkeys, mountain biking, or taking a thrilling 4x4 ride over mountain foothills, this place will keep your heart pumping! And yes, of course, you must take a trip to the locks and watch the ships pass through the canal.
Central America Travel Reviews
February in Puerto Rico
The west end of Puerto Rico is laid back and much of it is rural or small towns. Many beaches are easy to reach and during February were uncrowded, at least on the west end of the island. San Juan is obviously an urban environment, but we still found it to be easily navigable either by your own car, taxi, or bus (we used all 3).
Also went to the rainforest (El Yunque) which should not be missed.
We Puerto Rico a relative bargain as compared to Hawaii in time getting there and temps /beaches being comparable.
Away from the venders!
We visited a locals' place called "Fish Fry". From the downtown area, you catch bus #10 for around $1.25 USD or for a taxi $10 USD.
There is a free beach, plus restaurants. Spread out among the trees in a park area are food trucks that look family owned.
If you can be there on a weekend, I believe is the best. There are more people and more food trucks. You will find grilled ribs, fish, ceviche, conch fritters, etc. The local food is less expensive here. You will find public restrooms.
Don't forget your beach towel.
Diving in Curaçao
Shore diving in Curaçao was wonderful, particularly Alice in Wonderland and Porto Mari. I found the folks at Go West Diving to be very pleasurable and easy to deal with. My girlfriend booked dive excursions to Klein Curaçao and a dolphin dive through Ocean Encounters and had a blast.