If you’re looking for real adventure time, head to the Americas. Columbus wasn’t wrong when he landed in these parts by mistake and christened it the New World. This region can be neatly categorized as North America, Central America, and South America, with the Caribbean islands sprinkled in between.
Whether it’s sandboarding in Brazil or exploring the Canadian wilderness, there’s something for everyone in the Americas. If you’re thinking of travel North America, why not sign up for North America trips to explore the US, Canada, and Mexico? American adventure travel could be as simple as eating a really good gumbo in N’awlins or as crazy as going to Burning Man in the Nevada desert.
If Central America’s more your thing, hop, skip, and jump across Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama for eco-adventures and Spanish immersion homestays. Hitch a yacht around the Caribbean and make your way down south. On adventure travel tours in South America, go wild kayaking with whales in Patagonia, sailing to Antarctica, and checking out the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni. Trips to South America rarely disappoint!
Itching for more? Here are the 10 best places for American adventure travel from North to South in 2018!
1. Costa Rica
On the hunt for American adventure travel smack dab in the middle? Look no further than Costa Rica, dripping with beaches, mountains, and rainforests for you to explore. Learn pura vida (the pure life) while snorkeling in crystal clear lagoons, hiking volcanoes, hacking through the thick jungle of Manuel Antonio, or ziplining over cloud forests. Spot toucans on ecotourism trips or go horseback riding along cliffs. When you’re done, say om to the sea on the sandy shorelines of Puerto Viejo.
Recommended program: Learn Spanish and do yoga with Nosara Spanish Institute
2. United States
Ready for adventure travel, USA style? If you’ve always dreamed of seeing the big old USA, you should sign up for USA adventure tours ASAP! This North American juggernaut has so much going on: the Grand Canyon (grand is not an understatement!), the Great Lakes, Route 66, and of course, Alaska, the final frontier! Bungee jump off the Golden Gate bridge in San Fran, hike the Pacific Crest Trail Cheryl Strayed style, or hit up crazy towns on a rite-of-passage road trip across America.
Recommended program: Train rescue horses with Rafter P
3. The Caribbean
If you think the Caribbean is just sipping cocktails by the pool, you're sorely mistaken, mister! Try American adventure travel with a twist on the islands of the warm Caribbean sea. Trek to Boiling Lake in Dominica, pet manta rays in the Bahamas, and get PADI certified in the Grenadines. When you’re done with that, zipline over El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico, free fall through Aruban blue skies, and mountain bike over the hilly terrain of Haiti.
Recommended program: Sign up for a marine ecology camp with CCMI
Adventure travel in South America never disappoints. Whether it’s taking a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain or making a pilgrimage to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, Brazil has more than enough to keep adrenaline junkies on their toes. This country is truly massive (the largest on the South American continent!) so you could be sambaing and sipping on caipirinhas one night and swimming with river dolphins in the Amazon the next morning!
Recommended program: Volunteer in Brazil with IVHQ
Maybe you don’t have a floating house like the folks in Up but that shouldn’t stop you from taking trips to South America! Head way down south to Argentina for more adventures than you can imagine. You won’t be able to stop posting on the gram while glacier walking in Patagonia, flying to the Iguazú Falls, trekking in the jungles of Bariloche, or reaching the summit of Aconcagua, the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere! If none of that floats your boat, there’s always plenty of tango classes and wine tasting to keep you busy!
Recommended program: Explore Argentinian culture with Mente Argentina
When it comes to the Caribbean, one particular name usually comes to mind: Jamaica. Hike the island’s Blue Mountain range and try the best coffee on the planet. Follow the crowd and throw yourself into the ocean from a cliff 35 feet above sea level. Try the spiciest jerk chicken wings in Kingston and then cruise down Martha Brae river on a bamboo raft. On the other hand, if you’re not feeling particularly frisky, Jamaica has plenty white sand beaches and aquamarine bays you can chillax in.
Recommended program: Explore Jamaica with Jamaica Volunteer Programs
Travel North America for a Latin-flavored adventure in Mexico. Mexico is an adventurer’s paradise with rainforest ziplines, the best street food ever in Oaxaca, scuba diving in Cancun, and Mayan ruins right above the beach in Tulum. Explore the concrete jungle of Mexico City, once the center of the mighty Aztec empire, or take selfies by the iconic Kukulcán pyramid in the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza.
Recommended program: Explore Mexico with Frontier
Move over Costa Rica—there’s a new adventure capital in town! Nicaragua has plenty adrenaline-pumping activities like its famous Central American neighbor: hikeable volcanoes, shark-infested Lake Nicaragua, noisy and colorful birds, and crumbling colonial cities like Granada and Leon. Kayak Las Isletas or bargain your heart out in the local markets. When it comes to salty goodness, Nicaragua also has the best of both worlds with the wild Pacific on one side and the calm Caribbean sea on the other.
Recommended program: Experience Nicaragua with Broadreach
If you’re looking for Central American adventure, why not try Belize? This English-speaking country has lots in store for hard-core adventurers. Instead of following the masses to Oz, scuba dive in Belize’s very own barrier reef to find Nemo, Dory, and the rest of the crew. Fly over Mayan temples, lazy beaches, forests, and rivers or dive the depths of the Blue Hole. If you’re feeling up to it, you can also swim with stingrays and sharks in Shark Ray Alley!
Recommended program: Adventure travel around Belize with TEP
Adventure seekers, you’re in luck because Cuba’s open for business! Stay with a Cuban family to practice your Spanish or sail away with Enya on the calm Caribbean sea. Head inland to trek through miles of sugarcane fields or pick a cocoa bean straight off a tree on the plantation. Go rum tasting and learn to make a mean mojito while channeling your best Hemingway in Havana. Don’t forget to try the original ropa vieja and moros y cristianos (black beans and rice).
Recommended program: Sign up for a Caribbean Basin Voyage with Seamester
A note from GoAbroad
We’d like to thank our community for not only inspiring us daily, but for also giving us enough insight to share accurate predictions for meaningful travel in 2018.
Learn more our research methodology, recommended programs, and links here.