The heart of North America beats through towering forests, undulating fields, high-plain deserts, pulsating metropolises and offbeat oases. With cerulean seas and verdant forests, magnificent Maya ruins and smoking volcanoes, Central America is like a tropical fairy tale – except all of it is real. From high mountain peaks to shimmering reefs, spicy salsa rhythms to deep rolling reggae, pirate hideouts to sugar-sand beaches, the Caribbean is dizzyingly diverse.
Canada certainly has vast expanses of breathtaking, unspoiled wilderness, but it also features some of the world's most modern, cosmopolitan cities. From the majestic Pacific coast to the laid back beauty of the Atlantic coast, more than 5,000 km, Canada has something for everyone. White sandy beaches, crystal-clear water, and laid-back island culture make the Caribbean one of the world's top vacation spots. The seven small nations of this isthmus connecting North and South America blend elements of both continents; you'll find bustling cities, long coastlines, ancient jungle ruins, and Spanish-tinged mestizo and Afro-Indian cultures. Mexico is a big tourist attraction for sun-seekers and historians alike; the former flock to Mexico's tropical beaches, while the latter find the artifacts of the ancient Aztec and Mayan civilization fascinating. The United States of America is one of the largest, most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations on Earth includes some of the world's most famous cities, natural parks of unspeakable beauty, and virtually everything in between.
North America Features
Iconic cities that need no introduction are just the icing on this culture-laden cake. There's the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Smithsonian in Washington DC but the buzz of music, art and film finds its way down into everyday life, with citizens as often creating as much as consuming. A historical melting pot of cultures and identities, North America features some of the world’s most multicultural art. From Toronto's film festival to Mexico City's thriving music scene, North America is a veritable smorgasbord of enlightening experiences just waiting to be uncovered.
Even the most hardcore North American urban and suburbanites are forced to stop and gawp when confronted with the sheer natural beauty that is their homeland. From red-rock deserts to lush tropical rainforests, North America has the rare claim of covering every climatic zone, and its deepest gorge in Mexico’s Copper Canyon and Mt McKinley in Alaska exceed geographical extremes. Whether you're relaxing on a virtually undiscovered beach, racing down the slopes of the Great White North or scaling the iconic crags of the Grand Canyon – North America is certain to take your breath away.
In this land, adventure is king. Venture on a Canadian wilderness trek, buckle up for the legendary road trip along Route 66 or explore ancient rites at mysterious Maya and Aztec ruins. Whatever adventure travel dreams, North America offers a kaleidoscope of cultures, cuisines, landscapes, history and adventures that are bound to fulfill.
On one evening across North America, thick barbecue ribs and smoked brisket come piping hot at a Texas roadhouse, while talented chefs blend organic produce with Asian accents at award-winning West Coast restaurants. Locals get their fix of simple street tacos in Mexico, and a continent away, golden fries disappear under a steaming pile of gravy and cheese curds in a plate of poutine. Fresh lobster served off a Maine pier, oysters and champagne in a Vancouver wine bar, beer and pizza at a Midwestern pub – these are just a few ways to dine à la Americana.
Central America Features
Central America's seven countries plus Mexico's Yucatán and Chiapas states equal 300-plus volcanoes, two expansive tropical coasts and one giant adventure playground. Paddle deep into indigenous territories in a dugout canoe, or explore the remains of coastal Spanish forts. Zip through rainforest canopies, swim alongside sea turtles or trek to sublime cloud-forest vistas. Everywhere adventurers go, they'll be accompanied by a wild cast of characters: a resplendent quetzal on the highland trail; an unruly troop of howler monkeys swinging through the canopy; and an unexpected, breaching whale right beside the ferry.
The Maya civilizations sprawled from Mexico to Honduras, leaving behind ruins in five present-day countries – four in Central America – where visitors can still step back and connect with an ancient and mysterious past. Explore the lost temples of Tikal, see jaguars carved to life at Copán, and ascend the pyramid at Caracol. Discover a culture that harks back 4,000 years – the greatest pre-Columbian civilization – and still persists today.
Central America may take up less space than Texas, but its rich mix of people and cultures has created a diverse and dynamic society. With more than 20 Maya languages spoken, Guatemala is the region's indigenous heartland. The Spanish left their mark throughout with gorgeous colonial plazas, fervent beauty contests and silent hours of siesta. African culture permeates the Caribbean coast, from the Congo rebel traditions to lip-smacking rondón seafood gumbo.
With chilled-out Caribbean vibes on one side and monster Pacific swells on the other, Central America is perched between the best of both beach worlds. From deserted playas to full-moon parties, this tiny region can deliver just about any sun-soaked experience that any inner beach bum desires. What's more, there's that magnificent, mysterious world that begins at the water's edge. Seize it by scuba diving with whale sharks in Honduras, snorkeling the world's second-largest coral reef in Belize, getting stoked on Costa Rica's world-class surf breaks, or setting sail among Panama's virgin isles.
The Caribbean Features
A Caribbean Mosaic
The Caribbean is a joyous mosaic of islands beckoning paradise-hunters, an explosion of color, fringed by beaches and soaked in rum. It’s a lively and intoxicating profusion of people and places spread over 7000 islands (fewer than 10% are inhabited). But, for all they share, there’s also much that makes them different.
Azure seas, white beaches, green forests so vivid they actually hurt the eyes – there is nothing subtle about the landscapes of the Caribbean. Swim below the waters for a color chart of darting fish and corals. Feel the sand between your toes at any one of a thousand picture-perfect beaches. Hike into emerald wilderness and spot the accents of red orchids and yellow parrots. Outdoor-adventurers make a beeline for unspoilt islands such as nature-lovers’ Dominica and St Lucia’s iconic lush Piton mountains, which send out a siren call to climbers.
The tropical sunlight is infectious. Like birds shedding dull adolescent plumage, adventurers leave their wardrobes of gray and black behind when they step off the plane and don the Caribbean palette. Even the food is colorful, with rainbows of produce brightening up the local markets. Adventurers'll also see every hue at intense, costume-filled festivities like Carnival, celebrated throughout the region but particularly in Trinidad. Glorious crumbling Cuba, reggae-rolling Jamaica and Vodou-loving Haiti top the wish lists for travelers seeking unique cultural experiences and Unesco heritage havens.
Adventure travelers can find any kind of island adventure here. With so many islands, beaches, cultures, flavors and waves to choose from, how could this not be vacation paradise ? Adventurers can do nothing on the sand, party at a resort, explore a new community, hop between islands, discover wonders under the water or catch a perfect wave above, revel in a centuries-old culture (and sway to some of the world's greatest music while you're at it), and other activities.