Explore Central American highlights between Mexico and Panama

Travel into the heart of some of the most electric countries in Central America. Spot freshwater sharks on Lake Nicaragua, see flowing lava light up the night sky in La Fortuna, explore the lush coastline of Honduras and Belize and experience life in a Guatemalan community. This remarkable adventure tour begins on the magic shores of Mexico, ends on the rumba-beat streets of Panama and is quite simply, unforgettable.

Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Panama City, Panama
Costa Rica,
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16
Carbon offset
366kg pp per trip


  • Embark on an epic Central America tour
  • Dive into the fun and games of Playa del Carmen
  • Explore the incredible Mayan ruins of Tulum
  • Find tropical paradise on Caye Caulker in Belize
  • Eat some tasty tamales on a visit to Antigua
  • Discover the history of ancient Tikal pyramids
  • Be welcomed by a local community in San Jorge
  • Delve into a riot of colour and sound in Chichi market
  • Kick back on the Roatan Islands of Honduras
  • See locals chatting through open living rooms in Granada
  • Marvel at La Fortuna's mighty Arenal Volcano
  • 'Hang ten' in the Santa Catalina surf
  • Explore an exciting range of Panama City attractions


Start off your Central American adventure in Playa del Carmen, Mexico's famous playground of surf, sun and fun. For those with a bit of extra time, consider arriving a little early to make the most of the range of activities on offer.
White powdery beaches lapped by warm blue waters and overlooked by crumbling Mayan ruins - welcome to Tulum. Choose to set out for some snorkelling in the Cenotes offshore or simply sit back beachside and take in the view, margarita in hand.
Cross the border into Belize and cruise out to Caye Caulker - an idyllic tropical island getaway where exceptional scuba-diving outings or simply swinging the day away in a hammock are equally appealing options. Alternatively, head out on a manatee spotting excursion to learn about these curious creatures that call the lagoons of Caulker home.
Trade the blues of the Caribbean for the lush verdancy of San Ignacio in the Belize hinterlands. Perhaps venture out to the Mayan ruins of Xunantunich, embark on an tubing adventure through the jungle or a caving adventure underground and then finish up the day sharing barbecued street-side snacks with the town's friendly locals.
Leave Belize behind and travel by local bus to the laidback Guatemalan island town of Flores. While the nearby jungle-shrouded temples of Tikal are the town's true claim to fame, Flores' winding cobbled streets and small-town vibe make it a very pleasant place to explore by foot.
Continue on through dense jungle to Rio Dulce, by the banks of Lake Izabal. In spare time perhaps set out upriver to the coastal enclave of Livingstone for a final taste of Creole Caribbean culture or head out for a hike through Chocon-Machacas Natural Reserve.
Explore the cobblestone charms and quaint colonial architecture of Antigua, one of Central America's most captivating and cultivated cities.
Visit the picturesque mountain town of Chichicastenango and take a wander through its bustling market. Then continue on to San Jorge La Laguna and get an insight into local life on an overnight family homestay.
Panajachel, a lovely little town on the banks of Lake Atitlan, serves as the main base for exploring the various traditional villages dotted around the lake. With a serene ambience and superb mountain panoramas, it's the perfect place to sit back with a good book or embark on any number of optional activities.
Return to the colourful handicraft stalls and leafy plazas of Antigua, Guatemala's atmospheric one-time capital. With an entire day here to spend however you see fit, perhaps take an optional coffee tour or sign up for a salsa lesson.
Travel across the wild Guatemalan countryside and cross the border into Copan. Tour the World Heritage-listed Mayan ruins, with intricately carved structures dating back to 500 AD, or sample some unusual Honduran cuisine.
The reward for a bus and ferry journey today is the pristine shores of Honduras' Roatan Islands. Spend two blissful days diving into the crystal waters of the Caribbean or simply melting into the white, powdery beaches under the shade of a coconut palm.
Pack up the bucket and spade; it's time to travel south to Comayagua. Mingle with locals in the lush central gardens or visit some of Honduras’s most impressive cathedrals.
Cross the border and arrive at Nicaragua's oldest town. Granada city is a charming and surprising place, brimming with bubbly inhabitants and character. Sightseeing in Granada is plentiful; perhaps hop on a boat ride around Lake Nicaragua or for the adventurous, an excursion to Mombacho or Masaya Volcano National Park is a hot option. In the evenings, walk along narrow streets where locals chat to each other from their open-front living rooms.
Spot the world's only freshwater sharks in Lake Nicaragua en route to the lush Ometepe Island. Take an optional hike to one of two towering volcanoes on the island or choose a slower pace at one of the beaches or jungle swimming holes.
Costa Rica beckons across the border. Arrive in the eco-lovers paradise of Monteverde, and choose to explore the expansive Monteverde cloud forest on foot, mountain bike or on horse - or even go zip lining over the tree canopy.
From La Fortuna, discover the Arenal Volcano and perhaps enjoy a relaxing rendezvous at the La Fortuna hot springs or waterfalls.
Complete the Way to San Jose tour and farewell new friends in this spirited city. Join locals milling around Mercado Central for some super-cheap Costa Rican food and colourful souvenirs.
Hop aboard a local bus to the mellow coastal town of Puerto Viejo de Talamanca. With plenty of leisure time here, why not head out on a wildlife-spotting excursion to Cahuita National Park or sign up for some surfing lessons.
Drive on into Panama and catch a ferry out to the tropical archipelago of Bocas del Toro. With azure blue waters, pristine coral reefs and a rollicking nightlife, it's easy to see why Isla Bastimentos is a favourite haunt for so many of our travellers.
Soak up the tranquil mountains scenery and crisp mountain air of Boquete, a small town by the Caldera river in the Panamanian highlands. Head out to a local coffee plantation for an insight into coffee production or get active hiking up Baru Volcano or along the Quetzal's Path.
Travel on to the remote fishing village of Santa Catalina. Choose to spend your time here surfing, fishing, snorkelling or diving, or simply chill out by the beach.
Arrive in Panama City, Central America's glitziest capital. Get a taste of old Panama on a wander through the crumbling architecture of historical Casco Viejo, join an optional tour of the Panama Canal or explore the plentiful dining and drinking hotspots. As this memorable adventure comes to a close, perhaps mark the occasion with a night on the tiles at a samba club.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


1 breakfast1 dinner
Boat, Bus, Ferry, Taxi
Camping (with facilities) (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (41 nights)


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Important notes

There will be a change to the Antigua to San Jose section of this trip for all departures in 2016. Please note that this trip won't visit Roatan in 2016, instead the itinerary will be as follows:

Day 16 Antigua, Guatemala
Day 17 Copan, Honduras
Days 18-19 Suchitoto, El Salvador
Days 20 El Tunco, El Salvador
Days 21-22 El Cuco, El Salvador
Days 23-24 Granada, Nicaragua
Days 25-26 Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
Days 27-28 Monteverde, Costa Rica
Days 29-30 La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Days 31-32 San Jose, Costa Rica

Please contact us for more information.

A Single Supplement is available on this trip, except on Days 41-42 in Santa Catalina.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Our Best of Central America trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 5 reviews in the last year.

Best of Central America , April 2015

Best of Central America , April 2015