We’re looking for a vacation idea for this coming holiday break (Christmas to New Year’s). I’d like to find a spot in the Caribbean or Central America or even northern South America, where there is good scuba diving, and also opportunities for good hiking (rain forest or similar would be preferable).
Ruling out Cancun, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Lucia, and Belize (been there), are there other ideas someone might recommend?
Panama? (Colibri, are you reading?)
OK. I know the title is not the most exciting. I should have typed “Flummoxed. Need help in Central America” or something like that.
Sigh. Somebody must have a suggestion.
We have had a few Costa Rica tourism threads recently. I have been and I recommend it. The ecotourism is unsurpassed and I hear the scuba diving is good in places as well. The country is small, very tourism friendly, and doesn’t really fit the definition of third world in my mind. It is known as the Jewel of Central America and it seems to live up to that. You could easily visit both the Caribbean and Pacific sides in any reasonable amount of time.
You ruled out St. Croix, USVI but that is like my second home so you can ask if there was any question left open.
If you go to Costa Rica, be sure to stop by or stay at the Tabacon Resort at the base of the Arenal Volcano. It is among the coolest and most beautiful places I have ever been. The hotel really is at the foot of an active volcano. I don’t know about now but we stopped by for about 4 hours and the volcano mini-erupted and we felt several earthquakes during that time and they said that was normal. The coolest thing was that the streams that come down from the volcano are hot-tub temperature and they wind all around for swimming.
Costa Rica has all the rain forest hikes you could do in a lifetime available.
That’s kind of a tough call, hiking and diving, especially in the Carribean.
Of the places you mention:
Costa Rica: great hiking, so-so diving. The best diving is Cocos island, but that’s a full day’s boat ride out. I’ve yet to hear of REALLY great diving close to shore (not saying that there isn’t, but it is not well publicized).
Roatan: I was just there this summer. Great diving, but not a place that comes to mind for hiking. There’s kind of a “spine” ridge of mountains/hills down the island, but it did not look like there was all that much for hiking (and you’d pretty much just end up traversing across people’s land).
Others to NOT consider:
Grand Cayman: great diving only
Little Cayman: even better diving, but flat as a pancake
Bonaire: great diving. if there is any hiking it wouldn’t be all that interesting (definitely NOT rain forest)
Cozumel: great diving. No hiking.
One place that might fit the bill (but I haven’t been) would be Saba. I hear the diving is pretty good (not the best, but good enough). And the island is pretty steep and green. I have no clue about actual trails or whatnot, but it would have the most rain forest potential I think.
Although you rule it out, I’ve heard that the diving off Jamaica is not all that great, but it would seem that there is hiking potential (apparently a lot of waterfalls to hike to).
If you are considering Venezuela, I have heard that Rocos (sp ?) island has spectacular diving. However, I have also heard that Venezuela is still one of the more dangerous places to visit (muggings, pickpockets, general theft).