I am planning a 5+ wk trip in Central America (Nicaragua or Guatamala) or South America (Ecuador & Peru)in June/July. I plan on doing an Spanish immersion program for 4 wks (not necessarily in the same location.) I'd like to be on the beach for at least 3-4 wks so I can surf. Also, I am a young, solo female traveler so safety is a consideration...
I would love to hear benefits/drawbacks of the countries I have mentioned and specific locations I should check out. Suggestions of other countries would also be appreciated. Thanks in advance!!
I haven't been to Peru or Ecuador yet, but love Nicaragua and Guatemala. And if you´re able to communicate a little in Spanish you should be safe to travel there on your own.
Concerning language schools I unfortunately can't recommend any close to the beach as I did a two-week course in Antigua/Guatemala, but apparently San Juan del Sur/Nicaragua (wish I could have spend more time there!) is a good place to go to school and surf a bit further up the coast.
As a long term resident of Central America I sadly advise that even now Antigua is stressful to downright dangerous in some areas of town for women walking unaccompanied at night, Guatemala has become downright dangerous, in fact. I would recommmend studying Spanish in Quetzaltenango (Xela) a medium size commercial and cultural center and university city in the Highlands, where few locals speak English, not the 'fantasy island' of Antigua. view www.xelapages.com. There is surfing and good surfing in Guatemala but arrive after May as the beaches are very crowded with tourists in high season. The best Surfing by far is in El Salvador in the La Libertad-El Zonte-Sunzal area and if you team up with another surfer or surfers you should have no security problems as long as you use common sense, the owners of the new surfing hotel in Sunzal wake up their guests before 6AM to hit the surf and everyone's in bed by 9PM anyway..if you need to party at night, you can in your hotel or hostel with mates and locals who are neighbors. Nicaragua is also wonderful as a surfing spot, base for a day in San Juan del Sur and head out the next day for the remote surfing beaches...you'll need to hire transport all along the way if you have a board. El Salvador is best since the beaches are only 35+ km. from the capital city of San Salvador..to take your board on International Buses like the Tica Bus you'll require a cover. I would recommend finding a travel partner and joining our International Hospitality Clubs on line (Where locals and residents often put you up and show you around) our Salvadorian member friend is only 25 minutes from the beaches by car, they meet you at the bus stop and cook you a great meal after you arrive! I just returned from Antigua where at a friends guest house were lodged several women volunteering and I heard horror story after horror story..I'm not trying to put down Antigua..I lived and worked there for years!
As for Ecuador getting mixed reports on security...hear a lot of good things about Peru, the distances are very long there...you'd best start studying Spanish on line or with a tutor NOW. you can message me more info.
San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.
Beautiful surf, always. Cheap. Safe enough. And they have spanish schools there.
I've never been to Central America, but weather-wise, I'd advice against the southern tip of the cone; Chile and Argentina are just not the best destinations to visit in winter.
It also depends on what you want out of your holiday. Outdoor lovers should head south, while beach and party folk can stay in the middle, if I may throw in this dreadful generalisation :-)