10 Best Places for Pan-American Adventure Travel in 2018

by Published

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.

Two people parasail over turquoise ocean

Buckle up. It’s adventure time!

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

Woman dancing in colorful clothing

Baila with the best in Costa Rica when trying on adventure travel in Central America

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 about 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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Costa Rica

2. United States

Cowboy riding a horse on a beach

Giddy up for American adventure travel on the sandy shores!

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in the US

3. The Caribbean

Young boy in a scuba mask holding a starfish

Yuh feelin’ irie yet? You’re in the Caribbean!

If you think the Caribbean is just about 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

See ALL adventure travel programs in the Caribbean

4. Brazil

Parrots

South America adventure tours in Brazil are friends of the feathery.

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Brazil

5. Argentina

Woman with tattoo in Buenos Aires

Commemorate your American adventure travel with a little ink.

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Argentina

6. Jamaica

Colorful towels hanging on a line on a beach

No worries. Kick back and relax. You’re in Jamaica, mon!

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Jamaica

7. Mexico

Young woman in pink dress with white face paint

Play dress up for El Día de Muertos (while still being culturally sensitive!) on Central America adventure tours.

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Mexico

8. Nicaragua

Kitesurfing

Now’s your chance to try something epic!

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Nicaragua

9. Belize

Boat moored on a white sand beach

American adventure travel, Belizean style

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Belize

10. Cuba

Vintage pink car parked on a street in Havana

Park up this side of Havana for some real Cuban adventures!

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

See ALL adventure travel programs in Cuba

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 about our research methodology, recommended programs, and links here.

Read the full report here.

Browse more of this year's report on top adventure travel destinations