Why you should combine California and Costa Rica on a backpacking break

If you’ve chosen to go on a backpacking trip around the USA, there’s no reason why you cannot also venture into Central America. Should you be lucky enough to have plenty of time on your hands, I think this kind of holiday sounds amazing!
The west coast is a popular part of the country to travel around, especially California. Known for its sun, beaches, relaxed lifestyle and popularity with the rich and famous, the state is a fantastic starting and finishing point for a tour of the USA.

Venice Beach - Los Angeles
[Venice Beach – Los Angeles]

One of the best things to do here is explore the highlights of LA, such as the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory and Getty Center. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities, as you might spot them hiking in the hills close to the Hollywood sign, grabbing a coffee at a cafe or splashing the cash at the designer stores on Rodeo Drive.

There is more to California than LA, though, and some of the other destinations you should visit while here include San Francisco, Santa Barbara and San Diego. San Diego is a city that boasts a year-round pleasant temperature, which is perfect for sunbathing on its beautiful beaches or kayaking in the sea to get closer to grey whales.

Once you have seen everything you want to in the state, it’s time to head south into Central America. While many backpackers like to keep North, Central and South America separate on their trips, I think it’s a brilliant idea to see as much as possible, especially if you’ve got the time and money to cover a lot of ground in a single holiday.

One of the highlights of Central America for me is Costa Rica. I just can’t believe how rich the biodiversity is here. Even though it takes up just 0.03 per cent of the world’s surface, Costa Rica is home to around five per cent of the planet’s biodiversity. Throw in the fact that more than a quarter of its land is conservation or natural protected territory, and you’ll understand why Costa Rica is the place to come if you want to see amazing wildlife.

The Resplendent Quetzal is a bird you should definitely look out for, and one of the best areas to spot this colourful creature is in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. I think the zip-wire canopy tour looks like a unique way to explore the cloud forest, although there are plenty of hiking trails if you’re unsure about heights and would prefer to keep your feet on firm ground!

Costa Rica is also a fantastic beach destination, so if you’ve developed something of a golden glow in California, you can continue to work on your tan in the country. You’ll have your pick of stretches of sand on both Costa Rica’s Pacific and Caribbean coast. The water tends to be lovely and warm all year round, making the nation the ideal stop off whenever you choose to go travelling.

Central America is packed with many other fascinating countries that are perfect to backpack around, such as Guatemala and Belize – where you should put scuba diving at the top of your itinerary – as well as Honduras and Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is well known for its eco-tourism and stunning scenery, with volcano sand boarding, scuba diving, kayaking, deep-sea fishing and surfing just a handful of the activities you can get stuck into here.

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