Young woman enjoying a kayaking trip in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Central America & the Caribbean - Best Tours & Trips 2019

While technically part of the North American continent, Central America and the Caribbean Sea are a region (or regions) apart from the rest. Like some major Caribbean islands -- including Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico -- Central America has mixed Spanish and native heritage, while the Caribbean islands also display African, French, Dutch, British and even Danish influences. Besides large cruise ships, a variety of small ships also cruise the Caribbean and make stops in Central America as well. Costa Rica, Panama, Belize and Guatemala are all popular Central American destinations.

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Top Central America & the Caribbean Experiences and Attractions

Top Central America & the Caribbean Experiences

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Top Central America & the Caribbean Attractions

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Central America & the Caribbean Trip Reviews

Central America & the Caribbean Tour Reviews - Summary
98% Recommend

4.7 out of 5
Excellent 840 Great 256 Average 18 Disappointing 2 Terrible 11
4.7 Guide
4.7 Activities
4.7 Lodging
4.7 Transportation
4.7 Meals



Tortuguero was amazing and worth December 2018


Highlights of Costa Rica

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Tortuguero was amazing and worth the long trip to get there.. We enjoyed the atmosphere at Mawamba Lodge.. The trips by small boat into the national park allowed us to see three kinds of monkeys and lots of reptiles and birds in their natural habitat. Dennis was a knowledgeable guide. Si Como No at Manuel Antonio was a wonderful hotel with excellent rooms, staff and food Read more

Operator Alexander + Roberts



Do thorough research before you decide October 2018


Costa Rica Coast to Coast

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
As a first time visitor, the holiday was a good introduction opportunity. But
I’d have to be careful who to recommend it.
Tortuguero NP. The most specutacular part of the holiday.

Our main leader was a superb leader. His warm caring personality really
helped the team get on. His expert knowledge of birds was also very

This holiday felt like a geography trip, which is fine as long as you have a
realistic expectation. There was one walk which was so unpopular we thought
why we were doing this walk. Generally I am glad I could see things I
wouldn’t have if I’d chosen places myself.

In Hacienda hotel we had a broken shower in our room. Reported twice no
action was taken. Bad management. The sandwich lunch at the same hotel was
also terrible. Huge but bland. I don’t think anyone liked it. One thing I
realised is that Costa Rica is so expensive you can buy only so much for

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



Overall a very good walk and travel through Costa Rica's diverse countryside October 2018


Costa Rica Coast to Coast

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
The choice of places to visit on this trip was excellent and showed off the
variety of climatic conditions, scenery, flora & fauna, and people that Costa
Rica has to offer. The two knowledgeable guides informed us about Costa
Rica's past history and right up to modern conditions found here.
No one moment. Just walking and travelling through Costa Rica's diverse

We had two guides, Katia & Carlos. Both of whom were excellent with their
people skills as well as there job as guides.

This trip consists of walking up to 10 miles in 30 deg.C heat. Make sure you
are fit enough to do this and you will enjoy the trip.
You can get hot sun then rain, so lots of sun screen and a lightweight
waterproof jacket.

Advice to Exodus - You use United Airlines. They are not a very good airline
for long haul flights. The transfer in Houston through US immigration &
security is tedious. On the return journey the flight out of San Jose was
delayed by 1 1/2 hrs, which only left 1/2 hr for me to rush through US
procedures. I just made the connecting flight but my luggage didn't, causing
me some worry at Heath Row. My luggage was eventually delivered to my home 3
days later.

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



Exodus rate this leisurely - no... it...... aint........ but fabulous trip ... !!!! October 2018


La Ruta Maya

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
We were on the same tour as Christine (see Feb 18 review) Echo many of her
comments and those of your April reviewer.. We are in our late 60's/early
70's.... A fabulous trip with a bit of everything , and yes, the only way to
have done it was by a minibus with 14 other travellers.. but would not do
this sort of tour again... averaging 6 hours daily in a minibus - one day
was 15 hours across abysmal pitted roads due to teachers strike and roads
being barracaded, was no fun. We are very well travelled and pretty fit for
our age - but this was the most strenuous trip we have ever done... but so
glad we did it.. On the first day a very frail lady decided it wasn't going
to be for her.... and left.... !!!! Just to pick up on one thing from our
trip - Feb 18 review - which commented re water.... Having cruised many
times and stringent rules against sharing communal water facilities using
personal water bottles, we were horrified that most of our group did this -
obviously one tour member came with a bug and this was passsed around the
group via the communal water dispenser. Obviously this saved money for some,
but the cost was at least 75pc of the group had stomach bug issues for
several days (NOT HEAT RELATED) - and progressed thru the whole group... We
were among the few not affected - because - WE DID NOT USE THE COMMUNAL WATER
FACILITIES... Exodus please note - on minibus tours PLEASE DO NOT USE
- the tour - a fabulous mix of Mayan sites - in open situation and our
favourites - those in jungles. We loved the short beach brak in Tulum with
opportunities to body-board - too rough to swim... The towns and cities were
colourful, atmospheric and culturally diverse . The cultural and religious
mix of Catholicism and Mayan tradition was occasionally uncomfortable given
animal sacrifices were part of such ceremonies - but utterly memorable ......
For us wildlife is important and it was terrific to see some wonderful birds
and aguti and cotamundi up close and the howler monkeys had to be heard to be
believed...... !!!! In Belize it was great to get a snorkelling opportunity
and to swim with nurse sharks plus very large stingrays..... The trip had
everything - but showed us why we prefer a mixed nationality group..... We
get exasperated with our fellow Brits who always have to do everything asd a
group and seem incapable , as on our trip, of making decisions for
thermselves and allowing dominat individuals to dictate how to use what spare
times there was at the expense of giving themselves memorable times as a
couple.... We are sociable people but also value our times together as a
couple as these are the times you remember..... ah the British herd instinct
- it makes you proud.. ??!!?? Fabulous trip ...
Actually two.....

- the visit to a local church with a ceremony merging Mayan and Catholic
traditions - disturbing because adnimal sacrifices formed part of the
ceremony , but utterly memorable....

- The Mayan site at Tikal - wonderful jungle setting - a 6 hour trek thru
jungle around the extensive site , and encountering much wildlife - several
species of monkey, many birds including toucan, many eagles soaring on the
thermals, the many iguanas, agouti and cotamundi.... The views across the

Amando our guide was amazing.. Always keeping a close eye on everyone to
make sure they were happy, always there to give advice and suggestions and we
really appreciated his enthusiasm during our wildlife discussions......


Be aware that this is a very intensive tour with what is a full minibus with
little spare room, and not much spare time outside travelling and
sight-seeing...... If you are older and not very fit, consider an
alternative ....

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



What an adventure October 2018


La Ruta Maya

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
Well if you are expecting a relaxing holiday forget it! Full on from the
minute we arrived in Guatemala. True it is not for the faint hearted
travelling wise, a lot of places to get to in a short time but if you want to
seen Mayan culture in all it's forms this is the trip for you!

A very special mention to our guide Amando - brilliant! Such a considerate
guy with a real talent for organisation, diplomacy and truly appeared to
enjoy his job, love his smile.

Couple of brief periods of down time, loved the snorkeling and white beaches
so all in all a great success. We need a holiday now for sure
Seeing our first Mayan site.


Take plenty of books, music etc for the hours of travelling


Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

Central America & the Caribbean Tours and Travel Guide

Central America & the Caribbean Attractions & Landmarks Guide

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


BelizeCosta RicaCubaGuatemalaPanamaDominican RepublicHondurasNicaraguaEl-salvador 


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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