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Recommendations for Central American during Thanksgiving?

Hello All,

Like most of the world, we have some airline credit for our Spring travel that was canceled due to Covid19. Hoping that the world will be safe enough to travel by November. Keeping my expectations low, but hopes high. Besides, planning is most of the fun ;)

Anyways, I was wondering if anyone had any countries to recommend visiting during Thanksgiving time. I have never been anywhere in Central America and don't know what the weather will be like during this time.

We would be leaving from Buffalo, NY. I don't think we would want a flight longer than 4 hours without some sort of layover.

I was thinking of staying at a resort or all inclusive due to time restraints and also my travel partners are older and have trouble walking long distances.

Thanks in advance for any suggestion!

Best, Angie

Posted by
927 posts

As far as Central America and the Caribbean goes, you need to take into account the rainy season and Hurricane season. Do a bit of research to see if this is something you might want to risk.
Rainy season can vary a bit but usually runs from April to December and Hurricane season September and October. I did Costa Rica in September one year and it was a total washout.
Hurricanes can happen in November but much less often. Hurricanes are more frequent on the east coast but often miss Central America until they don’t.

Posted by
6032 posts

End of November should be pretty decent, hurricane season is pretty much over by then (but there's always exceptions) and temps should be quite warm. Check out Puerto Rico for a flight under 4 hours and it's a great place to visit.

Posted by
991 posts

Costa Rica is heaven on earth; however, I have never been there in November. I'm not sure what kind of weather they see at that time of year.

Seriously, once you get outside of San Jose (assuming that's where you'd fly in/out), it's like walking through a live action nature video. Keep small valuables locked up at all times. In fact, secure backpacks and laptops in closets or drawers if possible, but not because of people. Monkeys are known to climb through open windows and help themselves. It didn't happen to us, but it did happen to some people staying two rooms down from us at one hotel where we stayed.

Posted by
4128 posts

I have been to Panama and Costa Rica and loved going through the canal. Also, Costa Rica is special, but don't go during the rainy season.

Not sure I want to visit most of Central America due to safety issues. There are some ports in Belize where cruise ships stop that are ok, but the crime rate in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador is way up there.

Posted by
4206 posts

I'd second the recommendation for Costa Rica. And I'd add Oaxaca in southern Mexico, technically not "Central America" but close enough. Beautiful city and countryside, churches, ruins, wonderful food, markets. Nonstops from Houston and I think Dallas under normal conditions.

Posted by
6147 posts

I think the biggest concern is not the weather, but what the Covid situation is for each country you are thinking of - there is not much in the press about Central America but I can imagine one should not assume that everything is going smoothly there in the midst of a pandemic (or will be in good shape by the end of the year). In general they have a weaker health infrastructure than wealthier nations, although that varies by country/city (Costa Rica and some parts of Mexico are the exception, maybe Panama as well). Central American countries have a huge informal work force that lives day-to-day and is at risk. The largest city in Ecuador (Guayaquil), for example, has been absolutely ravaged and tuned upside down - I realize that's in South America, but it's a cautionary tale. I don't know what the situation is in other countries except for Mexico, which seems a bit too lackadaisical for my comfort in terms of safety precautions (again, it's because many poor day workers are desperate to work, and it's politically challenging to implement mitigation policies on a large scale). I'm not a fan of all-inclusives, so can't offer any opinion on that. I also don't know how they will be dealing with social distancing since they tend to have a lot of "group" type events and activities. I was supposed to go to Mexico too - independent touring of a colonial city on the west coast of the Yucatan - but I'm thinking that may need to be rethought for at least a year and probably more. I've been there about 5 times (do-it-yourself with no tour) and never had an issue, but this is a different world now.

If you have older travelers in your party, I would really consider their risk levels in going to countries without robust public health outcomes (in response to their Covid cases) and the quality of their health systems should anyone get sick.

If you want to plan for a future trip, I highly recommend Footprint Guides or similar to start with.
https://www.amazon.com/Central-America-Handbook-Footprint-Handbooks/dp/1911082647/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Posted by
679 posts

We went to Cartagena, Columbia last Thanksgiving. The weather was great, the people wonderful and the sites were enjoyable. I would go back in a second.

Posted by
4128 posts

If you want to go to a wonderful place in Latin America, I highly recommend three South American countries, Peru, Chile and Argentina.

All have fantastic cuisine. Peru is where the potato originated and they have many types of tasty potatoes. Also, the cuisine is as special as French or Italian. Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu are wonderful. The people are special.

Lima is a great historical city and worth a visit. I understand there are some interesting Amazon River cruises in NE Peru.

Chile is very modern and more like Europe in terms of living standards. Seafood is fantastic, especially the crab and sea bass. Lots to see up and down the country. Argentina has wonderful beef and Buenos Aires is worth several days. Go to a Tango show. Farther down the coast, to the south, there are lots of great wildlife to see with seals and penguins.

Posted by
6147 posts

If you have time constraints, unfortunately South America is not a good choice. Several of the recommended countries are huge with many sights and cities that are spread out over very long distances, not to mention giant mountain ranges like the Andes. When I went to Argentina, it was for 14 days or so and I needed to take 2 internal flights and also drive over 1,000 miles - and that was only the northwest portion of the country. It took a while to fly there as well (and there was a pricy temporary visa to pay upon entry at the time, since gone), although there was no time difference from where I came from (same with some parts of Mexico). Assuming you can go sometime in the future, I would focus on a more compact country or area if you have tight time constraints.

Posted by
84 posts

We went to Belize early Dec 2019. Wonderful weather. We flew from Charlotte into Belize City (2 hr flight), then took a commuter plane for the 15 min flight to Ambergris Caye. Spent a week snorkeling, diving, sailing. Took tours to see Mayan ruins. Visited Caye Caulker, a small island a short boat ride away. English is spoken everywhere and they take both American dollars or Belizean dollars. Belize is an annual destination for us.

Posted by
28 posts

We just did Costa Rica in February, before the covid-19 pandemic hit. Like other said, don't go in rainy season. It was beautiful. But more expensive than I thought it would be - actually quite expensive for a central American country IMO.

We flew into San Jose, and got a rental car, which is an absolute necessary to get anywhere. However, the Liberia airport was much closer to where we stayed and if doing it over, would fly there. We stayed in Playa Flamingo and it was nearly a 5 hour drive from San Jose, with often dirt roads. There are "highways" but not as we know them here.
We flew Chicago ORD-FLL-San Jose on the way there, and San Jose-ATL-ORD on the way home, not even sure there was a direct flight from ORD.

We did an Air BnB/VRBO so I can't speak to all-inclusives or hotels.

I felt safe everywhere we were.

Posted by
13 posts

Ive been to Belize around then and it is always fun, it is the end of rainy season but should be ok. If going to Belize I recommend splitting time between San Ignacio for Mayan and Jungle adventures, and a beach like Placencia, San Pedro, or Caye Caulker.