Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast

Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast

Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast

Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast

Travel information 14 days MS Roald Amundsen
25 April 2023
Price from
3890 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Discover nature, culture, beaches, and cities along Central America’s Pacific coastline, cruising from Costa Rica to El Salvador, Nicaragua to Mexico. 

Beautiful beaches and incredible biodiversity 

Central America’s coastline is blessed with miles and miles of unspoilt beaches, bays and coves. The pristine waters and protected ecosystems provide a safe habitat for thousands of animals, birds and marine life.  

In Puntarenas, you’ll join an exciting Tárcoles River to the Guacalillo Mangrove Estuary. There are then optional excursions to see volcanos in lush, wildlife-rich national parks in San Juan del Sur and Acajutla. Or take a catamaran tour of Huatulco’s scenic bays and perhaps admire orchids, palms, and cacti at Puerto Vallarta’s botanical gardens. Cabo San Lucas is a favourite hideaway for celebrities and boasts some of the best beaches around. 

Vibrant cities and culinary delights 

You’ll start in Costa Rica’s capital San José before going on to Puerto Corinto to visit the former Nicaraguan capital of Léon. From San Juan del Sur, a tour of colonial city Granada is next on the plan too. In Acajutla, there may also be optional excursions to the Salvadorian cities of Sonsonate or Nahuizalco and Ataco. Same for Tapachula – a culturally diverse city near Puerto Chiapas where Chinese and Mexican cuisine thrives side by side.  

Along your journey, you might get to try a range of local delicacies, from tamales to tejuino. Go for a Churchill sundae in Puntarenas or try Baja California cuisine in San Diego. There may also be optional excursions to a community kitchen in Huatulco and a cooking class in Puerto Vallarta. Or how about a visit to the temptingly-named Chocolate City close to Puerto Chiapas? 

Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast Explore the Nature and Culture of Central America’s Pacific Coast
  • Day 1
    San José, Costa Rica  

    The Many Charms of ‘Chepe’ 

    25 April 2023

    Small and compact, you can fit a lot into a day discovering Costa Rica’s capital city San José, affectionately known as ‘Chepe’, before spending the night at your hotel.  

    In recent years, downtown San José has experienced somewhat of a renaissance. 19th century buildings in Barrio Escalante have been transformed into a desirable neighbourhood attracting a hotbed of creative start-ups, design boutiques, a lively arts scene, microbreweries and a culinary revolution.  

    Explore Edificio Steinvorth, Mercado Escalante, and Calle 33 where you’ll find a kaleidoscope of shops, restaurants, galleries and food stalls to suit your tastes, whether that’s high end and chic or laidback and bohemian. 

    Take a stroll through Barrio Amón, a popular district northwest of Plaza España, full of history and architecture. Discover the old Victorian mansions of Costa Rica’s cafetalero (coffee barons), some of which have now been converted into hotels, cafés, bars and offices. Enjoy a cold Libertas or Segua, one of the local craft beers.  

    San José is also home to many of Costa Rica’s best museums. Learn more about the country’s pre-Colombian and modern culture at visits to the Museo de Jade, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo y Diseño (MADC), Museo de Oro, and TEOR/ética Gallery.  

    Make a stop at Mercado Central, an indoor market full of shops, souvenirs and sodas selling inexpensive traditional cuisine. While much of the merchandise is imported, there’s an old world, authentic feel to the place. Grab a local snack of batido (smoothie), tamales, casados or ice cream. 

    Day 1
    San José, Costa Rica  

    The Many Charms of ‘Chepe’ 

  • Day 2
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Wildlife Spotting along the Tárcoles River

    26 April 2023
    Estimated time of departure is 6:00 PM

    After breakfast, we join a boat tour along the Tárcoles River to the Guacalillo Mangrove Estuary, famed for its biodiversity. The mangrove forests are home to an estimated 300 species of native and migratory bird species, so have your binoculars and camera at the ready to maybe spot colourful caracaras, kingfishers, egrets, spoonbills, yellow warblers, herons, patoos, and the scarlet macaw.

    Along the shore, you might catch sight of Basilisk lizards, iguanas, and monkeys. The mangroves are also a habitat for the largest population of American crocodiles in the world. With up to 25 crocodiles per square kilometre, look out for crocodiles (some up to 15-feet long) lounging on the riverbanks.

    After your tour, we head to Puntarenas where MS Roald Amundsen awaits you. Once the largest and most prosperous cargo seaport in Costa Rica, Puntarenas is now more of a transit hub for people travelling around the region. For ticos (the nickname for San José’s residents), Puntarenas offers a welcome weekend coastal escape.

    Stroll along the oceanfront promenade and enjoy some of the freshest and tastiest seafood to be had on the island. Why not try the lobster or ceviche? If you have a sweet tooth, then we’d recommend trying a Churchill – the official snack of Puntarenas - a shaved ice dessert with fruit, syrup and ice cream.

    When it’s time to be welcomed on board MS Roald Amundsen, you’ll be impressed by this state-of-the-art, hybrid-powered expedition ship. After checking in, you’ll attend a mandatory safety drill before enjoying the first of many delicious meals, followed by the Captain’s welcome toast. The Captain will then introduce you to the Expedition Team, who will be your lecturers and guides on your journey, both on and off ship.

    Day 2
    Puntarenas, Costa Rica

    Wildlife Spotting along the Tárcoles River

  • Day 3
    San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

    Nicaragua’s Best Surfing Beaches

    27 April 2023

    Your first stop is the southern Pacific beach town of San Juan del Sur, a pretty horseshoe bay that has grown in popularity as Nicaragua’s surfing destination hub. This once-sleepy fishing village is known for its dark sand beaches, rolling green hills, colourful Victorian-era clapboard houses, fresh seafood restaurants, and lively surfer lifestyle.

    Lie back and relax on the beach soaking up the sun and people watching. A short walk from the town will lead you to a spectacular 1,500-year-old petroglyph, with a carved depiction of a hunting scene on a large rock. Enjoy an hour-long hike up to Cristo de la Misericordia, a towering 25-metre-tall statue of Jesus where you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views over the town and beach.

    Your included activity for this day is a bus tour of the city of Granada. Located on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and with views of Mombacho Volcano, Granada is home to some of the finest 16th century colonial architecture in the country. You’ll visit the main square by Central Park and admire the ornate cathedral as well as the Convent of San Francisco. Topping off your tour is a visit to a local school where we plan to drop off donated school supplies.

    Alternatively, you could join an optional excursion to Masaya Volcano. The tour bus will take you near to the active volcano’s crater where you’ll likely see steam rising from the fumaroles. There’ll be a stop at Catarina for panoramic views of Apoyo Lagoon and Lake Nicaragua, as well as a handicrafts market.

    • Included Experience Colorful Granada
    Day 3
    San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

    Nicaragua’s Best Surfing Beaches

  • Day 4
    Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

    León: a city with a fascinating revolutionary history

    28 April 2023

    An hour’s shuttle bus ride from Puerto Corinto is the former capital of Nicaragua, León. With its large student population, León is a cosmopolitan and vibrant city and considered the intellectual and liberal centre of the country. Walk through the streets and immerse yourself in the animated chatter emanating from local coffee houses and bars.

    León showcases some of the most elegant examples of colonial architecture in Nicaragua, especially its many churches and squares. Basílica de la Asunción, the largest cathedral in Central America, while the art museum houses one of the best art collections in Latin America.

    Léon’s streets tell their own story of the city’s revolutionary history through political street art daubed on walls and the sides of buildings. Colourful Sandinista murals depict scenes of protest, civil war, and portraits of revolutionary heroes like Carlos Fonseca.

    For a proper introduction to this nation’s history, a visit to the Museo Histórico de la Revolución is a must. Former revolutionaries act as tour guides providing authentic first-hand commentary of what it was like to live through the different ages. The Museo de Leyendes y Traditiones and the Galería de Héroes y Mártres also offer interesting insights.

    • Included Colonial Leon
    Day 4
    Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua

    León: a city with a fascinating revolutionary history

  • Day 5
    Acajutla, El Salvador

    White sands, blue waves… and coffee

    29 April 2023

    We dock at Acajutla, El Salvador’s main seaport to export coffee, sugar and balsam of Peru. Originally a Mayan village, there are hints of its history at ruins near the port. Aside from that, you can enjoy the comfortable atmosphere here, treasure hunting in the shops and strolling the dark sand beaches.

    Harbour restaurants will be happy to serve you great seafood and introduce you to typical Salvadoran dishes. Order a pupusa, the national dish of El Salvador; it’s a corn tortilla filled with either cheese, pork or beans and topped with sour cabbage salad and tomato sauce. Don’t forget to try some of the local coffee too. The region is famous for it.

    You may also have a number of optional excursions to choose from here. Take in the cities of Sonsonate or Nahuizalco and Ataco found inland from Acajulta. Another possible excursion brings you to Cerro Verde National Park which is 500 hectares of beautiful nature and home to the towering Izalco and Ilamatepec Volcanos. This excursion may also include a visit to UNESCO-protected Joya de Cerén, a pre-Columbian 600 A.D. Maya village preserved in volcanic ash, also known as the archaeological ‘Pompeii of America’.

    • Included Acajutla - Art with flowers and young people orchestra
    Day 5
    Acajutla, El Salvador

    White sands, blue waves… and coffee

  • Day 6
    Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

    A City Founded on Coffee and Cocoa

    30 April 2023

    We arrive at Puerto Chiapas in Mexico. This is the main port connected to the bustling commercial centre of Tapachula about 30 minutes’ drive inland. The fertile soil of the Soconusco province is famed for producing coffee, bananas, cacao and sugar cane.

    Thanks to the region’s reputation for premium coffee and cocoa plantations, immigrant German, Chinese, and French workers flocked here and their influence is visible, especially in the city. Chinese cuisine has merged with regional Mayan, Mestizo, and Spanish cultures and you might find a few fusion dishes have made their way to Puerto Chiapas’ restaurants from Tapachula’s little Chinatown.

    Some fascinating optional excursions might be possible from Puerto Chiapas, including a tour of culturally diverse Tapachula itself. The ancient ruins of Izapa are thought to be as ancient as 1,500 BCE and could even be where the sacred Mayan Calendar originated. A guided tour may delve into a series of stone carvings here that depict the fabled Tree of Life.

    Another potential optional excursion is the aptly named Chocolate City which offers a glimpse into how locally grown cocoa beans are transformed into the treat we all know, love, and crave!

    For an opportunity to spot the likes of pelicans, herons, hummingbirds, storks and turtles, perhaps it’s the optional boat excursion to the nearby mangrove streams and lagoons, accompanied by a professional captain and guide.

    • Included Chiapas Through the Ages
    Day 6
    Puerto Chiapas, Mexico

    A City Founded on Coffee and Cocoa

  • Day 7
    Huatulco, Mexico

    Bays National Park

    1 May 2023

    We spend the day in Huatulco, home to nine scenic bays, 36 pristine beaches, sheltered coves, and a range of eco-lodges and beach resorts.

    The National Park covers three of the nine bays and several ecosystems including deciduous forest, mangroves, savanna, wetlands and coral reefs. The park is home to over 700 plant species, 130 mammals, 300 bird species, and more than 80 types of reptile and amphibians, making it a dream for nature lovers, birdwatchers and photographers alike.

    Optional excursions to explore and experience Huatulco might include visiting Chahué, Tangolunda, Organo, and Maguey bays via romantic catamaran. Or perhaps a coach tour to Conejos Bay, Copalita River, and the arts and crafts museum in the town of La Cruceita.

    Another possible optional excursion dives into Mexican culture by visiting three small communities. Step into a communal kitchen in Piedra de Moros to see how authentic tortillas and tamales are made. Tour a prickly pear cactus plantation in Pueblo Viejo and examine traditional edible and medicinal plants in Las Pozas.

    • Included Huatulco by Land & Sea
    Day 7
    Huatulco, Mexico

    Bays National Park

  • Day 8-9
    At Sea

    Serenity at Sea

    2 May 2023 - 3 May 2023

    After an action-packed week of activities, you’ll be ready for a relaxing day at sea with no fixed programme. Time to reflect on your experiences, edit your photos, update your travel journal, rest weary legs or catch up with loved ones back home.

    You can relax and admire the scenery from the observation decks or from inside the lounge, go for a refreshing swim, or soothe your tired muscles in the spa. Or join an art workshop where you can create your own art pieces inspired by your travels so far.

    Stop by the ship’s Science Center for more in-depth geological and biological insights. If you’ve collected any samples on your expedition so far, you can analyse these under the microscope together with the Expedition Team’s Chief Scientist.

    You can keep active by taking advantage of our Yoga and Wellness Programme. Enjoy early morning mile-long walks on deck taking in the fresh sea air and join in tension-releasing stretching sessions to strengthen your joints.

    Take part in wellness workshops on how to achieve physical and mental balance by unblocking barriers to your internal energy or let our massage therapists work their magic to soften any aches and strains.

    Day 8-9
    At Sea

    Serenity at Sea

  • Day 10
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Enticing Mexican Resort City

    4 May 2023

    Situated along Bahía de Banderas, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's premier coastal destinations. The town is vibrant and full of personality, while the beaches and marine life offer plenty of nature and watersport options.

    Downtown in El Malecón, the seafront boardwalk buzzes with activity. Stop to admire street performers as you peruse the many stands selling souvenirs and cold refreshments like jalisco tejuino (a regional drink made of fermented corn) and agua frescas.

    Look skywards to catch the death-defying dance of the papantla flyers, swinging upside down like a human maypole. Enjoy the music and dancing of friendly locals in the plazas, and maybe join in if the mood takes you.

    Puerto Vallarta is a great place to pick up local Mexican handicrafts like colourful bags, silver jewellery, wooden toys and leather goods, but expect to enjoy a friendly haggle.

    Check out Isla Cuale, a large open-air market close to downtown landmark the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe or visit Mercado Municipal Rio Cuale, which has 160 stalls and a large food hall serving tamales, tacos, mole, and other traditional Mexican dishes.

    Go on an optional excursion to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens with its orchid house and impressive display of native palms, agave and cacti. Or why not learn some authentic recipes at a Mexican cuisine cooking class? You might master the stuffed green pepper dish of chile relleno or the tricolore chiles en nogada that’s a mixture of sweet and savoury.

    Day 10
    Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

    Enticing Mexican Resort City

  • Day 11
    Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

    Land’s End in Baja California

    5 May 2023

    Situated at the southern tip of Baja California where the Sea of Cortés meets the Pacific Ocean, Los Cabos peninsula is a mixture of desert and coastal landscapes. With its stunning beaches and azure waters, Cabo San Lucas has long been the resort of choice among Hollywood stars and wealthy holidaymakers. It has a reputation as a party town, where you can frolic in the sea all day and enjoy the lively bar scene.

    Land’s End, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific, is Cabo’s most recognisable landmark – spectacular jagged granite rocks in the shape of arches, stacks and needles that form the photogenic El Arco. The waters here teem with sealife. Aside from fish, you might see sea lions, rays, and even whales.

    Join an optional excursion to El Arco and also visit Baja’s most famous beach, the beautiful Playa del Amor, set in a sheltered bay with pristine waters and perfect white sands. Or go to the cynically named Playa del Divorcio on the other side of Land’s End.

    You can also head to downtown Cabo San Lucas to the Museo de Historia Natural to learn about the geology, botany and anthropology of the region as well as the local conservation efforts for dolphins, whales and sea turtles.

    Make sure you sample the local Baja Californian specialities too, like almejas chocolatas (chocolate clams), and freshly caught fish and shellfish deep-fried and encased in delicious freshly made tortillas.

    • Included Mariachi Show On Board
    Day 11
    Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

    Land’s End in Baja California

  • Day 12-13
    At Sea

    Relax Onboard

    6 May 2023 - 7 May 2023

    We wave goodbye to Mexico as we sail on to our final destination, San Diego. You’ll have time to unpack all the great impressions you’ve made of the wonderful places you’ve visited over the last few days.

    By this stage of your trip, you’ll probably know your fellow explorers much better, bonding over common interests and the experiences you’ve shared. You can meet with them in the Explorer Bar over a social drink, or in the Fredheim bistro over snacks. The crew and Expedition Team will also be on hand and at your disposal, always up for a chat and some friendly banter.

    Our onboard lecture programme continues, offering up wide range of interesting subjects for you to learn about. Hone your expedition photography skills out on deck as you scout for wildlife and seabirds. If weather allows, you can join our yoga and meditation programme or relax in the Wellness Centre at your leisure.

    The Expedition Team will present a photo slideshow recap of your expedition before we arrive in San Diego… a chance to relive the highlights of your Pacific Coast adventure; and if you’re lucky, the crew may even put on an impromptu farewell show for you.

    Day 12-13
    At Sea

    Relax Onboard

  • Day 14
    San Diego, USA

    America’s Finest City

    8 May 2023
    Estimated time of arrival is 8:00 AM

    We say a fond farewell to MS Roald Amundsen as we dock in the fabulous city of San Diego, where you will end your expedition on a high.

    Welcome to ‘America’s Finest City’ and California’s ‘Beach City’! With its heady mix of diverse urban sophistication, laidback surfer vibe, and year-round sunshine, San Diego has it all.

    You can spend your final day enjoying some fun in the sun and water sports at one of the many beaches. Or you can take a trolley car tour and explore Downtown, from the historic Gaslamp Quarter to the waterfront of San Diego Bay.

    Culture buffs should head straight to Balboa Park, the “Smithsonian of the West”, with its 17 museums, art galleries and other performing arts venues. And foodies will also be spoilt for choice with a melting pot of cuisines, local wines and craft beers to sample.

    There’s so much to do and see in San Diego that we highly recommend booking a Post-Programme to explore more of what the city and its surroundings have to offer before returning home.

    Day 14
    San Diego, USA

    America’s Finest City



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Current offers on this cruise:

  • Solo Traveller Offer

    Solo travellers who prefer their own space while still travelling with others, have the opportunity to save on select voyages departing in 2023. For a limited time, pay no single supplement if you book one of the below expedition cruises.
    This offer applies to a selection of departures that you can find on each voyage page.
    See Special Offer

What's included

Included in your voyage


  • Overnight in San Jose before the expedition cruise, including breakfast
  • Transfers
  • Transfer from hotel to ship in Puntarenas including a Jungle Boat Tour and lunch before the expedition cruise

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, infinity pool, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms, and outdoor running track
  • Yoga and meditation sessions with an instructor
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Loan of trekking poles and all equipment for activities
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area


  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected
MS Roald Amundsen in Antarktis
Photo: Dan Avila
MS Roald Amundsen
Aune Restaurant, MS Roald Amundsen
Photo: Espen Mills
Your ship

MS Roald Amundsen

Year built 2019
Shipyard Kleven Yards
Passenger capacity 528 (500 in Antarctica)
Gross tonnage 20 889 T
Length 140 m
Beam 23,6 m
Speed 15 knots
MS Roald Amundsen in Antarktis
Photo: Dan Avila

In 2019, Hurtigruten added a brand new ship to its fleet: the MS Roald Amundsen. The state of the art vessel features new and environmentally sustainable hybrid technology that will reduce fuel consumption and show the world that hybrid propulsion on large ships is possible.

Read more about MS Roald Amundsen

Science Center
Photo: Agurtxane Concellon

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