Caribbean Exploration of Keys, Coves, and Reefs - Southbound
About Puerto Limon, Costa Rica
October 20, 2018
Explore the Caribbean the "Hurtigruten way". Discover the beautiful realm of the Mayans by visiting stunning ruins, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, kayaking pristine coastlines, hiking into the jungle and cruising rivers to see amazing wildlife.
Starting in vibrant and magical Miami, we head south to the tropical pearl of Key West, to enjoy views of its world-renowned sunset.
Maya mysteries and coral reefs
Join in for an undersea adventure as we reach Lighthouse reef, home to more than 20 world-famous dive and snorkelling sites. The next day, venture into the jungle to discover the Mayan ruins of Lamanai, a lost city surrounded by dense rainforest. Explore Cayos Cochinos, a part of the world's second largest coral reef, by snorkeling or kayaking, or explore the islands on foot.
Traditional Creole and Kuna
On Isla de Provedencia, Corn Island and San Andrés you can snorkel among stunning tropical fish, feast on barbecued lobster on the beach, and experience Creole traditions. After a day at sea, we arrive in the Guna Yala province, where we meet people from the indigenous Kuna tribe.
On our final day is spent exploring the UNESCO site Fort San Lorenzo and the Panama Canal Expansion, before we arrive in Puerto Limon in Costa Rica, where this Caribbean expedition ends.
- Explore 9 different countries in one expedition
- Discover Mayan ruins and learn about their colourful history
- Visit tropical paradise islands and dive or snorkel on pristine coral reefs
- Experience intriguing cities like Miami, Belize City, and Key West
Included/not included in voyage
- Hurtigruten Expedition in cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
- Wind- and water-resistant jacket
- Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
- Professional English-speaking Expedition Team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- International flights
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional Excursions and Gratuities
The Magic City - Miami
Magical Miami is known for its legendary beaches, Little Havana, Art Deco buildings and a sense of glamour. The city’s fabled nightlife has been one continuous party more or less since the 60’s, making Miami a playground of the stars. Rich influences of Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Europe all contribute to Miami´s culture, food and music. Walk along Ocean Drive and gaze at the Art Deco houses, discover graffiti art and murals in Wynwood and enjoy a slice of key lime pie before embarking on MS Fram in the afternoon.
The Keys - Key West
The unique tropical island of Key West offers a wide range of fantastic activities. Visit the Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S., take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, go snorkelling on the coral reefs and wrecks, visit Ernest Hemingway's House Museum or have lunch at Sloppy Joe’s Bar where Mr Hemingway spent most of the 1930s slamming back daiquiris. And there is much more to enjoy here: eat freshly caught seafood, take a relaxing stroll down Duval Street, listen to a local band, pick up some souvenirs and, of course, top it off by witnessing a world-renowned sunset.
Lectures and Balmy Tropical Temperatures - At Sea
The deliciously warm air invites you to stay on deck. Enjoy the sun or spot wildlife, especially birds. The Expedition team will start its series of introductory lectures about wildlife, biology, life in the ocean and the ecosystems of coral reefs, also known as the rainforests of the sea.
Fascinating Nature, Beaches and Turquoise Water - Cozumel
Visit San Miguel de Cozumel, and spend the Day or evening ashore in this lively island town, enjoying the restaurants, cafes and nearby beaches, such as Palancar or Paradise beach. Or take in the island´s natural beauty, featuring mangrove trees and cenotes, and perhaps swim with stingrays at Stingray beach.
An Underwater Paradise - Lighthouse reef, Belize
Sailing further south, we reach Lighthouse reef, an atoll about 50 miles from Belize City. This is the most remote of the atolls in Belize and it remains wild and unspoiled. Here you´ll find more than 20 world famous dive and snorkelling sites, including the Blue Hole, Half Moon Wall and the Aquarium. The coral reefs contained within the atoll's lagoon shelter a remarkable 200 species of fish in a magical setting of shallow reefs, ledges, shelves and drop offs. We also offer land based adventures to the Half Moon Cave Natural Monument, a bird sanctuary and the only nesting site in the region for the red-footed boobies. Or, you can go kayaking, for a unique view of the amazing wildlife on the shore and at sea.
Relaxing On The Beach Or Exploring The Jungle - Belize City
After we arrive in Belize City, take advantage of the beauty of nearby Ambergris Caye. This is the largest island in Belize, with stunning beaches and azure waters, flanked by the Maya Mountains. Enjoy a Day in this tropical paradise’s laid back atmosphere, discovering spectacular caves, clear waterfalls, virgin tropical rainforest, and hundreds of limestone caves perfect for long walks, bike rides or snorkelling. You can also choose to travel to Orange Walk and Lamanai on a riverboat. This is a great way to see crocodiles, fruit bats, spider monkeys and hundreds of different bird species, including many species of herons. Known as the street-food paradise, Orange Walk Town has a fine location beside the New River, which meanders lazily along the east side of town. Orange Walk Town is easily explored by foot. The market area between the Corozal road and Main Street starts up early in the morning, and there are many small shops and restaurants to discover. Lamanai is one of the biggest and best excavated Maya sites in northern Belize. The ruins are known both for their impressive architecture and marvelous setting, surrounded by dense rainforest. See the Mask Temple, the High Temple, the Ball Court, the residential area and the Jaguar Temple. Climb up the High Temple via the original stairway built by the Mayas, and be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of the New River Lagoon and the surrounding jungle.
Green Carribean - Puerto Barrios
Puerto Barrios, located on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala, is set in a region with contrasts of jungle, rivers and sea, hosting a mixture of Garifuna and Mayan cultures. This region is also home to Quiriguá, an archeological treasure declared a Heritage of Humanity Site by UNESCO. Join our optional excursions to explore the beautiful river waters of Río Dulce, and enjoy coming close to the sounds and sights of the Guatemalan jungle. You can also choose to explore Quiriguá, and join in on nature walks that feature waterfalls and pools set in tropical rainforest.
Part Of The World’S Second Largest Coral Reef - Cayos Cochinos
An archipelago in The Bay Islands, Cayos Cochinos is a Marine Biological Reserve that hosts one of the least-disturbed reefs in Honduras Bay. National Geographic writes, "The waters around this collection of coral cays are a marine biologist's dream: protected by the government, off-limits to commercial divers and fishermen, and busy with creatures that may not yet have names." Explore the islands and come ashore for nature walks and for a visit to a small village. Kayak along pristine shores, or snorkel and dive among the rocky reefs.
Lectures and Relaxing - At Sea
Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, housing tens of thousands of marine species. In fact, about one-third of all marine fish species live part of their lives on coral reefs. In addition to their incredible value as wildlife habitats, coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and provide billions of dollars of food and jobs for humans around the world. Hear more about what these delicate ecosystems mean to life in the ocean, and other fascinating subjects from our Expedition team as we continue sailing south.
A Slice of Untouched Paradise - Isla de Providencia
Providencia is an unspoiled and traditional tropical island. Since it’s almost unreachable for most tourists (no direct connection to the Colombian mainland), it’s traditions and customs remain intact and you will still hear English Creole spoken. Enjoy breathtaking scenery, lovely sand beaches, friendly locals and amazingly clear water that is superb for swimming, snorkelling and diving. You'll find small cottages, hotels and cabañas strung along the road, and a delightful handful of restaurants. Visit a local school and tour the island, and enjoy the view of the many hidden bays. Bird lovers will have the opportunity to explore inland, hikers can venture to the highest point, kayakers can explore the coastline and divers and snorkelers can enjoy the superb undersea life.
Lobster and Jungle - Corn Islands
Located off the coast of Nicaragua, these beautiful islands have more in common with most Caribbean islands than mainland Nicaragua. The Creole people on Great Corn Island live in colorful wooden houses, earning most of their income from lobster fishing. You can experience their bounty first hand with a beach barbecue. Little Corn is a tiny island with no cars and a jungle interior to explore on foot. Venture below the water to be rewarded discover a rich world of undersea life.
The Seahorse Island With Coconut Palms - San Andrés Island
If you are searching for an ideal combination of relaxing on white sand beaches, snorkeling among tropical fish and lovely historic architecture and culture, San Andrés is the perfect destination. This small island, shaped like a sea horse, is located some 500 miles northwest of Colombia. While small in size, it offers tremendous, pristine beauty. The island is officially part of Colombia, but it has a long connection with England and a multicultural and bilingual culture, with the most common spoken languages being Spanish, English and Creole. Equally diverse is the ecosystem, featuring reefs, geysers, groves, and cays. Needless to say, it’s perfect for diving, snorkeling, and outdoor exploring.
Cruising The Caribbean Sea - At sea
The Caribbean Sea is more than paradise islands and coral reefs, it also the site of fascinating history. After Christopher Columbus stumbled across the Caribbean in 1493, Spain claimed the area, and its ships scoured the area for treasure. When the Spanish discovered the Pacific Ocean in 1513, the Caribbean became a hub for expeditions and convoys. Pirates and warships of rival powers preyed on Spanish ships in the area. Although Spain controlled most of the Caribbean, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Denmark established colonies on the islands along the eastern fringe. The 1800s brought U.S. ships into these waters, leading to the ccompletion, in 1914, of the Panama Canal, a historic feat of engineering that saved thousands of miles of transit around Cape Horn for ships trying to reach the Pacific.
Home Of The Kuna People - Guna Yala
The province of Guna Yala (formally the San Blas Islands) is an Archipelago of 278 picture perfect islands stretching along the north coast of Panama, reaching all the way to Colombia. Home to the Kuna people, who run the islands as an autonomous province with minimal interference from the national government, it’s one of the best-preserved native cultures in the Americas. The Kuna are renowned for creating brightly colorful panelled textiles called Molas, which traditionally adorn the women’s blouses. While we are here, you can enjoy kayaking on crystal clear water or come close to a spectacular diversity of coral while snorkelling or diving.
Unesco Site, Bird Watching, Panama Canal…and Sloths - Fort San Lorenzo and Panama Canal Expansion Centre
Fort San Lorenzo is one of the oldest Spanish fortresses in America, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 1500’s to overlook the mouth of the Chagres, Panama’s largest river, the fort provided an excellent view of approaching pirates and buccaneers. Get an up-close view of the river by small boat or kayak and look for the numerous birds in this migration hot spot, as well as other wildlife. Later, you can visit the impressive Observation Center of the Panama Canal Expansion project. This facility offers an exclusive panoramic view of the Panama Canal expansion. Covered decks view Lago Gatún and the locks; there is also a theater with videos in English, exhibits, a cafe and gift shop. In the short rainforest trail nearby, you might even see sloths and monkeys.
The Home Of The “Pura Vida” Lifestyle - Puerto Limon
Puerto Limón on Costa Rica is a compelling destination for adventurous explorers. The city itself has some fascinating architecture and colorful open-air marketplaces. The main market in the center of town is the place to go to buy everything from wood carved items to traditional souvenirs. Cashew nuts are big in this city, so be sure to try the cashew wine, which is a specialty here. While the city is rather laidback during the Day, at night Puerto Limon has quite an active social scene, with several bars and restaurants. This is where your expedition comes to an end. Stay on to enjoy Costa Rica or fly home.