central america travel itinerary

Our Central America Travel Itinerary

This summer, my family is embarking on our biggest adventure yet. We’ll spend one month learning Spanish, hiking on volcanoes, standing eye-to-eye with sloths and getting the hang of surfing in Central America.

manuel antonio monkey

And much to the joy of the kiddos, we will of course also spend a significant amount of time in water; swimming in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, soaking in natural hot springs and cooling off in countless swimming pools across Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

We can’t wait!!

Since many of you have asked, here is the complete rundown of our Central America travel itinerary.

A Wildlife and Nature Experience in Costa Rica 

The first stop on this epic Central America travel itinerary is Costa Rica. We’ll spend our first week in coastal town of Puerto Viejo, located in eastern Costa Rica on the Caribbean Sea.

costa rica family travel guide

Puerto Viejo is best known for its laid back attitude and eccentric residents. Here we’re looking forward to slowing down and relaxing for a few days. We’ll be renting a car, and can’t wait to check out the numerous beaches in the area, a Jaguar rescue center, and even a chocolate farm!

After dropping into Panama for a few days, we’ll continue north to one of Costa Rica’s most well-known tourist towns, Arenal. Here we’ll explore the famous Arenal volcano, take a dip in one of the many natural hot springs in the area, and maybe even give zip lining a try!

Then, we make our way West to the town of Liberia. Here we’ll do a short family Spanish immersion program with one of the highly regarded local programs, and spend the night with a local family.

spanish immersion family vacation

With only a few days left in Costa Rica, we’ll make our way down the West coast of the country. We’ll explore the Pacific-coast beaches and check out a few different areas along the coast, ending in Manual Antonio National Park, considered by some to be the crown jewel of Costa Rica.

Best Manuel Antonio Hotels for Kids

While in Costa Rica, we’ll be seeing all the highlights in the northern and western part of the country as well as spending a good chunk of time traveling slowly while we’re at the coast. This was all very intentional, as we wanted to see all the sights while at the same time traveling slowly when possible to more full experience Costa Rica.

Local Culture Immersion in Panama

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica is located at the far southern end of the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. We’ll take advantage of being so close to Panama to dip in to this country for a few days.

We’ll take a shuttle from Puerto Viejo to Bocas del Toro, Panama. Here we’ll spend a few nights at the well-known Red Frog Lodge on the island of Bastimentos. Then, we’ll head over to the largest island in this chain to do a brief Spanish immersion experience in Bocas Town and see a different side of Bocas del Toro.

bocas del toro with kids

I’ve been hearing about Bocas del Toro for a long time now, and can’t wait to see this unique and remote Caribbean archipelago. With so much else to see and do in Panama, I can almost guarantee this won’t be our last visit to Panama.

Learning about Nicaragua’s Rich History

I have to admit, I’m most excited about Nicaragua. Nicaragua has been the darling of the travel media recently. While the country has suffered civil war and struggling economic conditions for decades, today Nicaragua is peaceful and growing in popularity as a travel destination thanks to it’s rich history and pristine nature.

things to do in granada nicaragua

This will be my kids’ first experience in a developing country, and here the name of the game is slowing down, learning about the history and experiencing the culture of the region. While our exact itinerary is still being finalized, we’ll be spending time learning about history in Granada, adventuring on Ometepe Island, learning to surf on the Pacific coast and visiting small villages and locals along the way.

We can’t wait for our adventure to begin! Have you spent time in Central America? Please share your travel tips and experiences by leaving a comment below!

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