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Top Trip Memories

  • Visiting North America’s first colonial city, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where a number of “firsts” can still be toured.
  • Going snorkeling or SCUBA diving in Belize, Central America.
  • Climbing the Mayan pyramids in Tikal, Guatemala.
  • Riding a small boat on the Panama Canal after visiting an indigenous tribe in the rainforest.
  • Walking around Old Havana, Cuba, to see Hemingway haunts and 1950s-era American cars, still running. 
  • Beachcombing on some of the world’s finest sands throughout the Caribbean.
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Tour Tips

  • The Caribbean is much more than beautiful beaches. Each island has its own culture and languages include English, Spanish, French and Dutch.
  • Outside of Costa Rica and perhaps Belize and Panama, Central America is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua are rich in history, culture, and natural beauty as well.
  • With some 7,000 islands in the Caribbean (many of them small) and nearly 30 island nations, it's best to pick cruises -- preferably small ship -- that visit a few at a time, or take a tour of one or two islands to get to know them in depth.
  • The biggest islands in the Caribbean -- and among the most popular -- are Hispaniola (shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. 
  • The Dominican Republic is best known for its beaches, but it also contains the Caribbean's highest mountain (Pico Duarte), which you can climb on a guided tour; is a top windsurfing destination; and offers hiking and mountain biking adventures. 
  • U.S. citizens can travel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without carrying passports (though it's always wise to get one). 
  • Bermuda is often thought of as a Caribbean Island, but actually it's hundreds of miles north in the Atlantic Ocean, and can be quite chilly in winter. 
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Central America & the Caribbean Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.7 out of 5

99%

recommend

2,109 Reviews

  • Excellent 1,590
  • Great 574
  • Average 62
  • Disappointing 10
  • Terrible 7

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.7
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.7
  • Lodging
    4.7
  • Transportation
    4.7
  • Meals
    4.7

Tour Reviews

Fantastic tour of costa rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Lovely tour of a beautiful country
We loved all of it but especially esquinas rainforest lodge, so fantastic to stay in rainforest with all the wildlife. The food is good and plentiful everywhere, most of the accommodation is great. Lots of wildlife to see.

Very knowledgeable about wildlife and ecosystems, clearly loved his country and was keen to share all aspects of costa rica

Some journeys are long , audiobook and headphones would be worth taking. Do take binoculars even if you are not a bitd watcher, those without missed out. Lots of wildlife to be seen just sitting still in hotel grounds.

No reservations in recommending

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Discover Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A brilliant "taster" trip to Costa Rica, which our Guide (Jorge Diaz) skilfully adapted to the group preference for wildlife discovery with several early morning starts to capture the best viewing.
I really enjoyed the hot springs near Arenal (and the Pina Colada's!)

Excellent

Temperatures and humidity vary with elevation and location. If you are travelling in the Winter (peak) season you will need a sweater or fleece for early morning Quetzal hunting in Savegre

Generally the accommodation was good; one exception was the hotel in Manuel Antonio which, although convenient for the National Park and the beach, was rather noisy at night

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Discover Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
Probably the best holiday I have ever had. Excellent wildlife and well thought out locations to ensure we saw the maximum amount of the various landscapes Costa Rica has to offer. Excellent tour leader and driver. I thoroughly enjoyed this holiday.
There were so many - when I spotted my first wildlife - a toucan I was so excited I was almost hyper-ventilating!
Seeing the first sloth, the first monkey, otter, ant-eater etc
Boat journey into Tortaguera
Seeing the volcano at Turrialba erupting

He was excellent - very knowledgeable about the country and wildlife - he was still excited at seeing the birds and animals which he had probably seen hundreds of times before but made it seem special as indeed it was to us. He helped my husband and other group members with their cameras and photography which he was very knowledgeable about. He was a character who was great with our group.

If you like wildlife, birds, flowers/trees, and seeing different types of scenery, this is the holiday for you. The people were friendly and the food was great too!

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Discovering Costa Rica

Discover Costa Rica

5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A wonderful holiday! Well organised and varied . We were fortunate to have an especially nice group who all interacted well together.
Seeing how much effort is being put into protecting the environment, and restoring some of the logged rainforests- especially in the last 2 lodges.

Antonio was an excellent leader and frequently added extra walks and made special arrangements to ensure we all had a wonderful time. His had a wide knowledge of all aspects about Costa Rica and communicated really well with us as a group and individually. His sense of humour was appreciated adn added to the happy atmosphere.

Take a disposable poncho or buy one there. Have walking sandals.

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A fabulous tour

Discover Costa Rica

5.0
February 2017
Exodus Travels
Recommend: Yes
A packed itinerary, a great tour of the country- experiencing micro climates- differing landscapes- wonderful national parks and wildlife.
Each of the national parks were unique!!

Antonio was a fabulous leader - with vast knowledge of the wildlife and country.

Rainforest is what it says!! Take your poncho!
A great variety of micro climates - from fleece to bathing costume in one day!! Camera is a must!

This tour was a great over view ofCosta Rica. I do believe we covered about 1000 miles.

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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Central America & the Caribbean Trips & Tour Advice

Central America and the Caribbean are mainland North America’s closest overseas  tropical destinations. Those in the eastern and southern regions of the U.S. are especially close, but it’s northeasterners, in particular, who welcome warm-weather vacations in wintertime.

So with the Caribbean, in particular, the first image that comes to mind is a tropical beach, perhaps with you sitting on it downing a rum punch. But there’s much more to explore in this region.

Experience History and Much More

Start with centuries of history --  from the Mayan temples of Guatemala to the Spanish colonial ruins of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic (the “New World’s” first city, dating from Columbus’ second voyage), to the imposing fortresses facing the sea in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the old city of Havana, Cuba.  

You can tour historic pirate havens in Jamaica and elsewhere, learn about traditional rum making, and hear the horrific stories of the slave trade that brought thousands of Africans here in chains to work the sugar cane fields.

And while there are plenty of ways to get your exercise along the beaches -- windsurfing and kite-surfing in the Dominican Republic among them -- you can also hikeclimb mountainsride mountain bikes, photograph tropical birds, go scuba diving or snorkeling among tropical reefs, take a whale-watching trip, go zip-lining through the tree-tops of a lush forest, tour old rum distilleries, discover distinctive architecture, or just enjoy the views on a sightseeing trip among islands and nations of Spanish, French, British, Dutch, and African cultural heritages.

Central America

While the southern side of Central America borders the Pacific Ocean, the northern side lies along the Caribbean, and generally tends to be somewhat more tropical, with warmer waters. The region has seen its share of civil strife in the past half century, and some high-crime areas  remain, but there are islands of stability.

The two most prominent Central American countries for visitors are Costa Rica and Panama, with Belize coming up fast. Costa Rica packs a wallop for its small size, with both Caribbean and Pacific coastal areas, rainforests and desert-like regions, volcanoes and wildlife. Costa Rica may be best known for its rainforest birding expeditions and its seven active volcanoes, including Irazu and Arenal -- which has erupted several times this century. But the country itself is stable and peaceful.

Panama, of course, is home to the Panama Canal, currently being widened to accommodate larger ships. A tour to Panama might include a day trip on the canal in a small ship (“Panama Canal” big-ship cruises usually don’t go all the way through the canal itself). Beyond the canal are rainforests occupied by indigenous tribes, jungle lodges for wildlife viewing and trekking, and the modern capital of Panama City.

Beyond Costa Rica and Panama

Belize, which shares part of the world’s second-longest tropical coral reef, is made for snorkeling and scuba diving, and also boasts Mayan ruins, while Guatemala is best known for Tikal, a pre-Columbian Mayan temple and World Heritage Site, as well as its volcanoes and natural beauty.

Honduras includes the island of Roatan, which has become a major Caribbean cruise ship stop, while Nicaragua -- the largest country in Central America -- is packed with impressive volcanoes and rainforests, but is sparsely visited. Tiny El Salvador also has volcanoes, lakes, forests, and a great Pacific surfing coast, but has been plagued by high crime and gang violence. Still, many adventurous travelers experience safe trips there and love it.

With an area this size, a tour, individual travel planner, or small-ship cruise makes a lot of sense in deciding where to go and what to see and do. Stride can help narrow the field for you and get you started on your adventures in the Caribbean and Central America. 

Related Guides

Countries:

BelizeCosta RicaCubaGuatemalaPanamaDominican RepublicHondurasNicaraguaEl-salvador 

Attractions:          

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica; Roatan, Honduras; Panama City, Panama; Granada, Nicaragua; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Many More.

Top Activities:    

 Scuba diving & SnorkelingSailing CruisesYoga, Meditation & WellnessKayaking & Canoeing & Nature Sightseeing.

 

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