By Arantxa Fetta
When vacation time comes around, often Latinos like to travel back to their homeland, visit family, reunite with friends and eat grandma’s food.
But if you like to travel, learn about other cultures, and experiment with new places, people and food, Costa Rica and Panama are great vacation destinations.
The best feature of Costa Rica and Panama is that tourists can explore the jungle during the morning and have relaxing afternoons at the beach. Their close proximity to the equator provides great tropical weather all year round.
Arenal Volcano is located in the Costa Rican province of Alajuela. Visitors can appreciate the perfectly symmetrical shape of the volcano from every place in town.
La Fortuna is a small town located at the skirts of the volcano. Fortuna means fortune and as described by Daniel Trujillo, a canopy tour guide, the town takes its name after the rich soils and the beauty of its rainforest.
Visiting the canopy around the slopes of the volcano, swimming below La Fortuna waterfalls, and relaxing at the natural hot springs are must-do activities.
Public transportation is cheap and is the best way to move around Costa Rica. With $10 travelers can go from La Fortuna to the Southern Caribbean coast of the country.
Puerto Viejo of Talamanca is a “zero stress” town with hospitable people, reggae music playing everywhere, amazing beaches and surf areas.
Renting a bicycle for $5 and riding 8.6 miles on the road that connects Puerto Viejo and Manzanillo is the best way to enjoy all the beaches of the Southern Caribbean coast. Playa Cocles, Playa Chiquita and Punta Uva are great places to make a stop and rest.
While riding visitors are captivated by the jungle; there they can see spider monkeys swing through treetops, listen to howler monkeys, and watch for colorful groups of toucans.
Also in Puerto Viejo, there are a variety of jungle adventure activities, such as driving ATVs, tree climbing, rappelling, visiting waterfalls and walking the trails surrounded by primary forest.
Costa Rica has amazing beaches and jungle tours, but if you want to experience the best of snorkeling and scuba diving, Bocas del Toro is the best place to go.
Bocas del Toro archipelago is located at the Northeast of Panama. From the frontier is a one hour ride to Almirante and 40-minute boat ride to main island, Isla Colon.
Just like Puerto Viejo, it is a “zero stress” environment.
A $20 tour can take you to the relaxing Red Frog beach, snorkeling around Isla Cristobal, dolphin watching and to Cayos Zapatilla to admire beautiful white sand beaches and coral reefs very close to the shore.
Both Costa Rica and Panama are beautiful affordable vacations spots. Hostel prices can start at around $12 per night, and higher-end hotels can range from $50 to $150 a night. A good plate of rice and beans is $5, and tours are at reasonable prices.
Panama and Costa Rica are great places to go for Latinos. It might not be your homeland, but the landscape is astonishing and vibe is full of good energy and the warmth — the people will make it feel like your new home.
By Arantxa Fetta