Top 5 Reasons Why Colombia Should Be On Your Travel List



My name is James, and I’m one part of the travel team here at Coast to Costa. I’ve spent the last few years working with our travel groups in Cuba, and as a Colombian-American, I’ve been desperately wanting to bring all you travelers down to Colombia with us to explore one of Latin America's best kept secrets. I wanted to take a moment to share with you, like Oprah, a few of my favorite things about Colombia, why I love it, and why it’s a special place to visit:

  1. La Comida: Colombian cuisine is a mixture of many different cultures and regions and you’ll find something delicious for everyone along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. You’ll never be too far from a fresh fish or lobster, served with a side of plantains “Patacon”  and my personal favorite, Arroz con Coco, or coconut rice. Fruits are always in season down here, and you’ll be impressed by the extensive amount of options (pro tip: any juice with Lulo is where it’s at). There aren’t many places where you’re gonna find this combination of food, fruits, and sazón. Oh, and coffee - Colombians know a thing or two about that, too.

Street snacks

Street snacks


2. El Paisaje: I might be a tiny bit biased here, but Colombia is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Bordered by two oceans and the Andes mountains, Colombia has gorgeous beaches, rainbow-colored rivers, snow capped volcanoes, emerald-green valleys, windswept deserts, and even a little corner of the Amazon. It’s this variation in landscape that makes it no surprise that Colombia is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world with more species of birds than anywhere else.

Parque Tayrona

Parque Tayrona


3. La Musica: Colombians love a good party and the country is famous for its music and nightlife. Music and dance is in our blood and such a huge part of Colombian life, you’d have to climb to the top of a mountain to find absolute silence. You’ll hear everything from Salsa, to Cumbia, to Champeta, to Vallenato, to Reggaeton. There’s always a festival, a party, a street corner hangout, or any excuse to set the volume to 11 and break out some rum or aguardiente.

Photo by  James Bernal

Photo by James Bernal


4. La Gente: Ask anyone who’s spent time there and they’ll agree - Colombians are some of the warmest, friendliest, and genuinely hospitable people you’ll ever meet. Travelers regularly point out how Colombians will not just give them directions to a bus stop but will walk them there. If there’s one stereotype that should come to mind for Colombians, it should be about how exceptionally friendly and welcoming they are to travelers. There’s a reason Colombians are always number one on those “Happiest Nations” lists  =)


5. La Energia: I don’t know what it is exactly, but there’s an energy, a vibe I get whenever I’m traveling through Colombia. It might be the first four items on this list, bundled with a long held desire for peace, but there’s an overwhelming feeling of positivity I feel when I’m down there. It’s true, the country has endured decades of hardship, but finally, is going through a renaissance both domestically and on the global stage. Colombians, possessing an infectious degree of optimism and passion for their culture, are doing their best to rewrite our story and have the final word on what it means to be Colombian.


New Trip Dates!


January 4-11:

Cartagena, Parque Tayrona, &Minca Colombia

January 25-Feb 1:

Havana, Trinidad, & Viñales, Cuba

February 16-23:

Lima, Machu Picchu, & Cusco, Peru

March 21-28:

Havana, Trinidad, & Viñales, Cuba

April 25-26:

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico

May 22-29: Colombia

June 6-7:

Valle de Guadalupe, Baja Mexico

July 3-10:

Havana, Trinidad, & Viñales, Cuba


We are super excited to have Colombia as our newest destination and led by our favorite Colombiano coworker, James Bernal! We can’t wait to show you around these amazing cities and show you the beauty of travel. It’s so important to take some time away for yourself and discover new cultures, new scenery, new food, new everything! As always Flights (from most major US cities), accommodations, and activities are all included. It’s our job to find the best hidden gems and plan it all for you so that all you need to do is show up! We promise we are super good at it. And if you don’t believe us, well there’s always Yelp, Tripadvisor, and Facebook.

Lower Price to Reserve Your Spot!


We recently ran a poll over our Instagram to get an idea of what the reasons that restrict people from traveling. With busy schedules, budgets, asking for time off from work, etc it gets tricky. It’s easy to forget that the truth is…travel is a luxury! So we might not all have the same opportunity as others to travel.

We were not surprised when we saw the main reason was cost at 78%. This got us thinking we need to rethink our pricing schedule. We decided to lower the reservation price to $550 instead of $1000. This way it makes it easier to pay over time. The second payment of $550 is collected a month later. The final balance is due 45 days out before a trip. This gives you more time to plan and budget into your normal spending. We’d also like to thank you at this time for understanding our price includes a very personal service you would not normally receive traveling on your own or relying on random lists found on Pinterest or Yelp. Plus, we work with a local on-the-ground team that work their ass off to help make our trips amazing. We pride ourselves on paying them a wage that is a reflection of their dedication and hard work.


Timing was the second biggest reason. With everyones (including our own) crazy schedules, we totally get it. Our dates don’t work for everyone. Our solution? Simple… we’ll plan you the private trip of your dreams at your dates and at your budget! That being said though…let’s all make more time for travel. Whether it’s with us or on your own anywhere, even a simple weekend getaway will soothe your soul. We need to step back and refresh. Americans are known to be terrible at remembering to pump the breaks and give ourselves a break!


Last but not least, we thought maybe your friends might not be into traveling. Good news is this was NOT the case. So yay for having rad and fun friends ready for a travel adventure!

What Do We Mean by "Live Like a Local"?

Photo by  Sabrina Hounshell  on our trip, January 2019

Photo by Sabrina Hounshell on our trip, January 2019

So what does it really mean when we say “live like a local”? We obviously can’t be locals everywhere and we don’t claim to be! Back in 2012 when I was first trying to make this business idea into a reality, I was chatting with a good friend of mine and the tagline “live like a local” came up after talking about the way we liked to travel. I wanted to create trips that felt as though your friends (that were locals) from each destination were the ones showing you around. Being taken around your friend’s hometown or country always felt WAY more fun and meaningful than just researching online and crossing your fingers. This is actually how I got the idea to start Coast to Costa in the first place.

I started this dream job in 2012 but the real beginnings were in 2004 when I went to live in Spain. I had never really enjoyed college or knew what the hell I wanted to do, so I decided to take three months off and learn Spanish in Sevilla, Spain. I totally fell in love with everything about living over there and I ended up living in Spain for 4 years (and Italy for a year). When I came back to the US, I was living in San Francisco and working at a Catalan restaurant. I would always go back to Spain and bring groups of friends along. In Spain friends of mine who were chefs and bartenders began to open their own spots. I would have them show us around and "guide" us. This led to not only the best restaurants but that rad little hole in the wall club where we danced our butts off til the early morning. Our original itineraries were led by friends of mine from my time living in Spain and friends I had made at the restaurant in SF that were wine makers, cheese mongers and ham (jamón is the best) purveyors. When I put all of these friends together, I realized I had a whole food and wine itinerary in and around the places in Spain that I loved. We have taken this original model and applied it to all of the destinations that we travel to.

Fernando (our trip host) and I in Cusco, Photo by  Juan Bustabad

Fernando (our trip host) and I in Cusco, Photo by Juan Bustabad

When we say “live like a local”, we aren’t trying to say you’re going to become a local in days or that there’s any shame in being a tourist. Being an American traveling abroad comes with many privileges that we’re aware of and thankful for. Without actually being a local theres no way to fully see the complete in and outs, good and bad of a country. We aren’t trying to minimized or downplay that. We are solely trying to highlight that we have developed amazing relationships with all of the people we work with in all of our destinations. I have learned that making friends and working with those friends ensures the best possible travel experience everywhere that we travel. When choosing new destinations, we'll always choose places that I have lived, have spent time in or places where I have good friendships with key people to show our travelers around. Each trip is completely led by friends (who have now become family) of ours that do the best job. I choose them to bring us into THEIR world and to show us THEIR culture.

When we started this adventure 7 years ago, there were not a lot of people offering these authentic, locally guided travel experiences. It seems like nowadays, there’s a lot of companies saying the same things. What I can tell you is after 200 + trips that we've organized and led, we can honestly say that when you come on our trips, you truly live like a local. Our local friends and family in each destination guarantee it!


How Machu Picchu Woke My Ass Up!

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

I wanted to write all about something really amazing that happened to me in my life. For those of you who know me, I'm not what'd you'd call a very sporty nor outdoorsy kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, I love being outside. I love the beach. I love beautiful mountains and can appreciate nature with the best of them. The thing is, I'm not very typically, like active in said outdoor spots.

Historically, you could find Andrew Tyree enjoying the outdoors sitting down! Preferably with a drink and a cig...yeah, I know. I smoked cigarettes for far too long. Wait, wait, keep the judgement down and bear with me, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Brief history, after leaving college not knowing what to do, young me moved abroad from San Francisco to Seville, Spain. Already dabbling in the "cancer sticks", I moved to smokeland! Needless to stay, it stuck. After moving back to SF, and getting tired of feeling gross from them, I had a good friend, Courtney Moore (hit her up @mission_intuition for body work and healing), gave me acupuncture. It helped me QUIT those damn things, except I let myself cheat whenever I was traveling. Fast forward to my first hike to Machu Picchu in April of 2018. See, I told you I was getting ahead of myself. As the owner of this company, the fearless leader of our group, I was determined to just be totally fine with hiking at nearly 8,000 ft above sea level with never training. Man, was I wrong.

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Photo by Marcella Winograd on our trip, February 2019

Brief history, after leaving college not knowing what to do, young me moved abroad from San Francisco to Seville, Spain. Already dabbling in the "cancer sticks", I moved to smokeland! Needless to stay, it stuck. After moving back to SF, and getting tired of feeling gross from them, I had a good friend, Courtney Moore (hit her up @mission_intuition for body work and healing), gave me acupuncture. It helped me QUIT those damn things, except I let myself cheat whenever I was traveling. Fast forward to my first hike to Machu Picchu in April of 2018. See, I told you I was getting ahead of myself. As the owner of this company, the fearless leader of our group, I was determined to just be totally fine with hiking at nearly 8,000 ft above sea level with never training. Man, was I wrong.

The Andes mountains taught me a lesson. A lesson as big and dramatic as the mountains themselves. I need to get myself healthy. I am not going to live forever. I would prefer to live a longer and healthier life than I was living before. After getting my ass thoroughly handed to me (I made it but it was very difficult), I made a pledge to myself to do two things. One, I needed to climb Mt. Washington (a few blocks from where we live in LA) at least three times a week and I was going to quit smoking for good.

I'm happy to report that as of a few months ago, with the help of another friend Joe Homs (shoutout #2, he's super good!), I'm 100% off the cigarettes and I've been hiking up the "mountain" by my house almost every day. Plus, I've learned to appreciate nature in a much healthier way. I feel kind of funny saying this but I've kind of turned into a's amazing how life turns out!


Five reasons why group travel is the most transformative way to see the world

Photo by Gabriel Flores

Photo by Gabriel Flores

Explore five surprising examples of why you need to try group travel on your next trip.

By Tyler Anneliese Moselle

The last thing people envision during trip planning is joining a group of strangers.

Lounging in one-of-a-kind accommodations, tracking flight prices, scrolling through amazing cultural sights, never-before eaten foods, and climbing trails through unknown terrain… with people you’ve never met?

But here’s the scoop on what you’ve been missing out on group travel:

1. Join the pack! You’ll make new friends and lifelong connections.

When you mix an international adventure with a curious group of people from all different backgrounds, you encounter unparalleled, valuable moments.

Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment on a Shaman walk to Cusco temples or rolling cigars together in Cuba could spell lifelong bonds

“One thing that I've learned from traveling to different places is that music unites us all. In difficult times or situations, music can bring people together and make them feel better.” -@ktmacaroni on our January trip to Cuba

2. Expand your perspective and skills.

Some travelers—like this writer and traveler Jen Han, love to plan their own adventures.

Han shares — “Usually I like to plan my own travel, but for Cuba, we decided that that going with an experienced guide was the best option. Andrew and his team are fantastic—so fun and knowledgeable. We had the most incredible trip!”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

From our well-traveled team to our international tour guides, you’ll experience a curated trip from a locals’ perspective. Plus you can have your own personal AMA: Ask Andrew Anything!

Through our international community of farmers, chefs, and artisans, you can take a local’s deeper dive into global food, beverages, and crafts.

Once you’re Coast to Costa family, you’ll never come back home the same!

3. Get that photo.

You don’t have to be shy when you want that travel photo of your dreams.

From llama cameos on Machu Picchu to enjoying classic cocktails against beautiful architectural backdrops in Havana: never fear.

You can stay present in the moment without regretting not capturing that perfect moment.

4. Enjoy the journey you want for a better price.

It’s difficult to put a price on world travel, but more accessible travel makes unfeasible vacations possible.

As Coast to Costa Founder, Andrew once put it, “People are able to experience a place in a way that is totally non-touristy, guided but also with free time to explore on their own. Plus, you meet great people along the way to share the experience with.

“One couple got engaged, best friends have been made, and we have follow up parties and get-togethers because everyone REALLY wants to hang out after the trips! It's culture within culture!”

He added, “Even if people don't come with us, our whole mission is to get more people traveling! Book a cheap flight, then save up the money. Book now and figure out the plans and budget later.”

Skip saving for the entire cost of an international trip. With group travel, your costs are divided so you can save that cash for handmade souvenirs, perfecting your Peruvian recipes at home, or your next trip!

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

5. Introvert and extrovert-friendly moments

There’s never a dull moment when traveling with a group, but, remember, you can always choose-your-own-adventure at your own pace.

As Antonella Pisani points out, there are plenty of great lifehacks if you’re introverted but want to try your hand at group travel. First, try to identify common interests or hobbies with the group.

Meet talented photographers, writers, and travelers who have a wealth of knowledge.

Nurture your inner creative and hone a new skill! Join us in Cuba in November during three photography walks led by Dan Tom: capture dusk on the Malecon, cityscapes, and architecture, and a nature excursion.

“While your first instinct might be to find a large group where you can become invisible,” Pisani writes, “I’ve had more fun with smaller groups that all share a common interest.”

Maybe arrive a day early, enjoy some occasional me-time with a good novel or noise-canceling headphones, find a new adventure buddy to wander off with, or even FaceTime or use WhatsApp to call a loved one when you need a break. This is your experience and we encourage you to make it your own!

Personally, as an only child and a professional writer, I certainly need my space. I never considered group travel before my Coast to Costa-led trek through the charming vineyard-packed Valle de Guadalupe in Baja Mexico.

When I look back, toasting our border crossing, sharing unveiled surprises, bonding over unreal bites and sips at dinner, and snapping one another’s photos together was the perfect introduction to an unknown world.


There was something magical about standing in line for our decadent seafood lunch in Ensenada as an ensemble. Taste buds on edge, quietly strategizing what to order, practicing our Spanish—that was the catalyst for the entire trip’s camaraderie and shared wonder.

Ready to add group travel to Cuba or Peru to your bucket list?

Join us on one of our next trips coming up on October 23-30 and Nov 16-23, 2017.


Eating Vegetarian “Like a Local” in Cuba

Photo by  Gabriel Flores

Written by Tyler Anneliese Moselle

Intrepid vegans and vegetarians: it may be tough, but here’s how to do it.

Savoring local rum, cigars, and vintage cars is surely on your checklist on your trip to Cuba. But how can you enjoy traveling like a local in the country whilst a vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is still not the easiest feat in a country known for abuela’s chicken, roasted pork, classic crusty grilled cubano sandwiches, with a side of rice, beans, and plantains.

We have a few epicurean tips for our veggie-eating friends. Please keep these three recommendations in mind, if you’re an eager traveler looking for vegetarian-friendly options on your visit to Cuba:

  1. Be sure to integrate “sin carne” and “sin jamón” into your Spanish vocabulary. An important phrase when sampling local delicacies sans meat or ham, especially since locals frequently categorize  jamonada (Spam) as a non-meat option.

  2. Embrace rice, beans, eggs, plantains, salad, and pizza. Major staples will be include traditional rice and beans, eggs and omelettes, fried plantain, salads, and, yes, pizzas.

  3. Vegans, hit the paladares*. Vegans are pretty limited when it comes to local Cuban eats that fit their dietary preferences. A paladar, or in-home restaurants, offer guests an opportunity to simply order off-menu. Most spots have rice, black beans, and root vegetables -- potato and malanga--readily available.

Photo by  Gabriel Flores


As Saveur points out, “In-home restaurants like Atelier, known as paladares, were legalized in the 1990s but limited by idiosyncratically enforced regulations: a maximum of 12 seats, no beef or lobster, only ingredients purchased at state stores, at least two “family helpers” as staff.”

“Those restaurants that survived despite the restrictions possessed a speakeasy ambiance and exclusively served Cuban food. In 2011, nationwide economic reforms loosened regulations, and in short order, paladares—some selling comparatively exotic Indian or Spanish food—outstripped state-run restaurants in both number and popularity.”

With the reopened American Embassy in Havana and tourists are changing the face of what it means to be a culinary entrepreneur in Cuba. When chefs were accustomed to only limited selections of ingredients just a few years back, now multiple options, like a new variety of fresh produce are available. Revitalized local green markets ( known as agromercados) are flourishing thanks to reorganized farming co-operatives.

Without a wholesale market, however, products can vanish from Cuba’s government-run supermarkets without any notice whatsoever.

So just as vegetarians must be resourceful when it comes to planning their trip to Cuba, chefs are equally creative when it comes to last-second menu substitutions.


What You Really Need to Know About Visiting Cuba (Now)


A note to our fans, from Natalie and Andrew

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

Photo by Nicholas Roberts

Written by Tyler Anneliese Moselle

Last week, you may have heard the news about President Trump’s new travel restrictions in Cuba. We watched the press conference with anticipation and were brokenhearted to learn that travel to Cuba will be lessened.

 We want you to know, that our trips have always been aimed at supporting local families and businesses, and will continue to do so. We pledge that we will continue to bring groups of curious, like-minded travelers to Cuba in the hopes of creating more peace and understanding.

 Since we began bringing groups to Cuba over the last two and a half years, we have witnessed the positive changes that the influx of tourism has brought firsthand. We were fortunate to be in Havana the week that President Obama visited Cuba. What we witnessed was the hope and positivity of a new future for both Cubans and Americans.

 Good, hard working people were finally able to open their own businesses and begin to vastly improve their lives.

 In 2016 alone, non-Cuban American visitors to the island soared 74 percent thanks to return of commercial flights. Cuba’s 615,000 visitors from the US last year was a record, while still a fraction of the island's 4 million visitors.

 To us, the tightening of travel and commercial ties with Cuba feels like a step backwards.

We want to let travelers better understand how the new policy will change travel going forward.

 Take a closer look at exactly what POTUS’ newly-signed, six-page directive calls for:

  1. In the regulations, travel is now restricted to people traveling with groups with OFAC licenses.
    We are fortunate enough to be one of those companies.

  2. You’ll need to know what exactly constitutes legal forms of travel to Cuba going forward.
    Should Americans want to visit Cuba for “educational purposes”, they can only do so in tour groups, just like before 2016.

    While under President Obama, U.S. travelers could travel under a dozen various license categories—from educational, relgious, journalistic, family-related visits, or even simply under a “general” license—tourism was still prohibited.  

  3. President Trump is cutting out what are known as “people-to-people trips”.
    This is sub-category of “educational purposes” allowing U.S. citizens to tailor their own trips and travel to Cuba on their own—definitely one of the most popular methods with  U.S. travelers since President Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba announced they would begin begin normalizing relations between the two countries  back in 2014.

  4. Those visiting for educational reasons will now be required to apply with the Treasury Department and visit with a licensed tour group.
    (Like us.)

  5. Island visitors can continue to “self-certify” under a general license that they are traveling to Cuba for one of the reasons that are left.
    Also, Cuban-Americans should know they can continue to visit and send money to their family in Cuba.

  6. The new policy additionally prohibits financial transactions which benefit the Cuban military’s business arm—a.k.a. Grupo de Administración Empresarial (GAESA).
    This is POTUS’ effort to put more money in the pockets of free and private Cuban businesses and cut the influx of cash to Raúl Castro's regime.

    So, U.S. travelers will have less say about where they spend their money in Cuba, as the Cuban government has control over plenty of the travel and tourist economy. This includes state-run hotels—even one of the first hotels to open on the island in decases, the Four Points by Sheraton Havana among other big brands—restaurants, and more.

    (It’s estimated that 60 percent of the total Cuban economy is under GAESA’s authority. Perhaps up to 80 percent of the tourism economy is controlled by them, too.)

  7. Renting private properties, like Airbnb rentals, will be permitted.
    Diplomatic relations and Obama's revocation of the "wet foot, dry foot" policy that gave Cubans preferential immigration treatment will also stand.

  8. Americans can continue to return home with their Cuban cigars.
    (Thought you should know.)

  9. But not everyone agrees this is a smart move.
    Congressional Democrats and some Republicans seeking more engagement with Cuba and business-minded conservatives—the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example—argue this could hurt U.S. businesses and jobs.

  10. What about commercial flights, you ask?
    Last summer, air travel began between the U.S. and Cuba for the first time in over 50 years. These flights will continue uninterrupted under Trump’s Cuba policy, however with lower anticipated travel, a number of carriers will be scaling back their Cuba operations. So if that keeps up once people-to-people trips halt, tour groups may be forced to book more expensive, charter flights. Cruises will also be permitted to make stops

  11. Okay, but when does all of this go into effect?
    Since Friday June 16, the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments have 30 days to kick off drafting all the new rules under POTUS’ new policy. We’ve also heard “the process takes as long as it takes”.

  12. Travelers who have already scheduled a trip to Cuba can still travel as planned.
    ...until the new regulations take effect.

  13. Not everything is clear yet.
    The Treasury Department must share exactly what this means for those who book trips before the new rules, but visit the island after they are release.

We will contintue to stand with the people of Cuba. None of this will stop us from sharing the “live like a local” experience with more eager travelers. If anything, it will spur us forward to continue to bring our two amazing cultures together!

 If you have any questions we didn’t answer here, please don’t hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below!