First, take the bone-white beaches of South-East Asia, the terracotta charm of colonial Europe and South America’s crumbling ruins. Shake well and add a dash of world-class diving, island hopping by catamaran and two plates of tangy jerked chicken. You now have the magical cocktail that is Central America (either that or a really crowded kitchen). With the chilled vibes of the Caribbean on one side and the rolling swells of the Pacific on the other, you can’t really go wrong. Just grab a compass, point yourself due paradise and let us handle the rest. Siesta anyone?
If you like your Mayan ruins with a touch of disco, then you’ve come to the right place. Set on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, this ancient city comes alive at sunset with a (slightly kitsch but entirely unmissable) sound and light show. The site is dominated by El Castillo, a massive pyramid with 91 steps running along each of its four sides.
If you’re going to try white-water rafting anywhere, Pacuare River in Costa Rica is the place. Set among cascading waterfalls and lush rainforest, the warm water is ideal for first-timers. During the calmer moments keep your eyes peeled for jaguars, toucans, ocelots and monkeys.
Coffee all day, salsa all night and a never-ending supply of chocolate in between. This small Guatemalan city is super chilled and an extended stay is the best way to soak it all in. While there are plenty of ruins to be found, the city is famous for its colourful convents, arches and buildings in colourful hues of blue, pink, and yellow.
There’s so much to do here, it’ll leave your head spinning. Join the fun with a twirl around the dance floor in a salsa class, check out a baseball game, swing past the mansion-turned-perfume-laboratory at Habana 1791, or grab a guava pastry from one of the vendors along the Malecon. Close out the day with a cigar and a glass of good ol’ fashioned Cuba Libre.
The trip was great for me - I was travelling solo so it was nice to have the accommodation and transport all taken care of, whilst having the flexibility to choose which activities I did each day, along with a guide who was knowledgable and fluent in Spanish (which I'm sadly not!)
A fantastic trip which you see so much culture & wildlife over three countries in such a short time. Personal recommendation is the ATM (Actun Tunichil Muknal) caves optional tour along with Tikal & Caye Caulker snorkelling as highlights.
This trip allows you to explore the Central America's natural beauty and have a few adventures along the way. If you like getting amongst nature, the odd adrenaline rush, and don't mind the rain this is a trip for you.
One of Intrepid's strengths is hiring local people as guides. It makes a difference in the quality of experience because it enhances the authenticity of the experience. As a gringa, I don't want another gringa guiding me through Costa Rica!! I also value the opportunity to have certain items on my travel itinerary predetermined (accommodations, transport, etc.) and to have others open-ended based on my personal preferences for entertainment and activity in the various places that are visited.
Review submitted 17 Jul 2018
What to see in 7-10 days in Central America
With so much packed into such a small part of the globe, it’s incredible the number of things you can experience with even just a short stay in Central America. You could start off sampling coffee in Guatemala, make your way through the Mayan ruins of Honduras and El Salvador, and finish up in the colonial charm of Granada.
If you’re looking to dive a little deeper, you could also focus on one or two countries – exploring the island beaches of Jamaica, sailing through the Canarreos Archipelago or snorkelling off the coast of Costa Rica. If you have less than 10 days, the laidback paradise of Belize is a quintessential Central American experience, while it only takes a week to cycle across Cuba from Havana to Vinales and back, seeing everything in between.
The ruins of ancient Maya are one of the region’s biggest drawcards and the more time you can set aside for exploring these jungle cities, the better. Over three weeks, traverse the impressive archaeological sites at Tulum, Tikal, Xunantunich and Mexico's most famous site, Chichen Itza, one of the seven wonders of the world.
This is also your chance to get immersed in the modern cities and cultures of Central America. You can easily spend three weeks in Cuba, walking through the historical streets of Havana, visiting Che Guevara’s mausoleum in Santa Clara, and cha-chaing the night away in Trinidad to Cuba’s famous rhythms.
If it’s a fast-paced adventure you want, look at travelling from Antigua to San Jose. It’s the best way to knock a few countries off the bucket-list as you crisscross your way through Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, fitting in as many cities, jungles, ruins, villages, volcanoes and beaches as you can along the way.
With six weeks to fill, everything from Mexico City to the Panama Canal is your playground. It’s impossible to experience everything a region has to offer, but this is your chance to come pretty close.
If you just want to limit yourself to just Cuba or Mexico, there’s no shortage of experiences for an extended stay too. But with this much time, you can explore a variety of countries and cultures and still have time to relax on a Caribbean beach.