4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About

Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
The Travel Tester takes you on a creative travel journey through Central America & The Caribbean!

Are you looking for a inspirational list of hands-on travel experiences in Central America & The Caribbean? Then you’ve come to the right place!

Over the past years, there has been a big trend in tourism where travellers no longer want to participate in just the standard sightseeing tours and attend so-called ‘cultural shows’, but really feel the need to get involved in experiences that are characteristic to the destination that they are visiting. This is called Creative Travel.

In this article, you can find some of the best creative travel experiences in Central America & The Caribbean: Antigua, Belize, Cuba and Curaçao. Keep coming back, because this list will keep growing!  



4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester

Creative Travel Definition

According to the Creative Tourism Network, creative travel is considered “a new generation of tourism”, that offers visitors the opportunity to “develop their creative potential through active participation in courses and learning experiences, which are characteristic of the holiday destination where they are taken”.

From volunteer travel programs and language immersion programs to cultural immersion travel experiences and real community immersion, Creative Tourism is a way of travel that really is for everyone.

Whether you travel alone, as a couple or with a family or group of friends, there are many activities around the world where that offer educational courses and workshops, creative experiences where you get to learn different art forms or even adventure activities where you interact with the local nature and people in a fun, yet authentic way.

Complete Hands-on Travel in Central America & The Caribbean List


Learn to Sail

Sailing and Antigua go hand in hand. Antigua Sailing Week (a yacht regatta that was founded in 1967) is one of the top regattas in the world! The National Sailing Academy on Antigua was founded in 2010 and they offer Antiguan school children free sailing lessons – and you can learn as well. 

TIP BY: me! (read my full blog about sailing in Antigua >>)

“At the moment, the academy has 3 racing Keelboats (Cork 1720’s) and they are available for hire, which is exactly what we did. When we arrived at the Sailing Academy, we’re being given life vests and are teamed up in groups of four across the boats, each with an instructor. But before we hit the water, we get a quick introduction lesson on dry land and quickly realize that sailing sounds a lot easier than it actually is! 

After we helped raising the sail, we each took turns in trying to sail the ship around the harbour a few times. There is a lot that happens at once, but the trick is to stay calm and watch what the wind is doing. If you’re in Antigua at some point in the future and you are looking for a fun, different type of activity during your stay, I can highly recommend looking into getting a sailing lesson (or a few to really get a hang of it). “


4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: thetraveltester.com


The Travel Tester loves to review tours and activities all around the world to help you decide if it will be great for your next adventure.

From the main tourist attractions to bucket list experiences and from guided walks or drives to self-guided visits of historical places, interactive museums, viewpoints, local events and much more. If it looks interesting to us, we’ll test it!
No matter where you are going, with our reviews you’ll know exactly where to find a memorable activity to participate in.



Learn How to Make Chocolate 

Native to Central America and South America, cacao is the fruit that turns into chocolate and it’s plentiful in Belize!

TIP BY: Nikki, shesavesshetravels.com (<< read all about travelling Belize on a budget)

“One of the most creative travel experiences I had when traveling to Belize on a budget was learning how to make chocolate like the ancient Mayans. Chocolate making tours are available in most of the largest cities in Belize, and for good reason! It’s an authentic experience you won’t get outside of Central America.

During a chocolate making class I learned how the ancient Mayans consumed chocolate, and how they’ve changed the recipe and process over the centuries. I was able to taste the cacao during each step of the process. It turns from bitter, slimy fruit seeds to an intense, roasted chocolate flavor.

You can find chocolate making classes or tours in most major cities in Belize – San Ignacio, San Pedro and Placencia. It’s a relatively affordable tour (mine was just $12 USD per person) and it’s easy enough for all ages. It was delicious and certainly a creative travel experience that I’d highly recommend.”


4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: shesavesshetravels.com (left and bottom right) and Canva (top right)


Dance the Salsa with Locals

If you want a truly immersive and local experience in Havana and you want to see how Cubans let their hair down, you gotta pop your dancing shoes on!

TIP BY: Catrina, 24hourslayover.com (<< read all about salsa clubs in Cuba)

“Havana is THE best place in the world to dance salsa and learn traditional Cuban dance styles! In fact, many foreigners come to Havana purely to dance salsa, whether they are young or old!

You can take dance classes in the day with some of the most famous Cuban artists in the world, and then during the evenings put your skills into practice at the many salsa nightclubs dotted around the capital. You’ll get so many opportunities to dance with the friendly local Cubans, and what’s great is that most nights the top Cuban bands perform live in these clubs. So you won’t just be dancing along to a DJ spinning tracks, you’ll be dancing to the real deal. It doesn’t get more authentic than this!

Experiencing a Cuban band performing live is really special: they have so much energy and the whole club goes crazy! I have been to Havana four times purely for salsa dancing, and they remain some of the best trips I have ever taken!”

4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: 24hourslayover.com (top right) and Canva (left and bottom right)


Take a Painting Workshop

One of the top things to do in Curacao is to tap into its incredible arts scene.

TIP BY: Michele Peterson, atastefortravel.ca (<< read all about free things to do in Curacao)

“Although the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao is best known for its colorful UNESCO-heritage designated harbor, white sand beaches and glossy resorts, it’s also home to a rich and vibrant culture.

Highlights include taking a look at the island’s cool street art, visiting Gallery Alma Blou’s contemporary art collection and browsing Serena’s Art Factory (and the adjoining Art and Souvenir Shop) where visitors can learn about the iconic and colorful Chichi® figurines of Curacao.

Handmade and individually painted by local artisans, these goddess figurines are inspired by Venus of Willendorf (a 30,000-year-old fertility statue), the sculptures and paintings by Colombian artist Fernando Botero and the Papiamento word “chichi”, a name given to the warm and wise older sisters of Caribbean families.

Located near the CurAloë Plantation on the east side of Curaçao, Serena’s Art Factory was founded by Serena Janet Israel, a professional mouldmaker, designer, restorer, artist and art teacher, originally from Berlin,Germany. For a hands-on experience, you can meet the artists, watch them work and participate in a walk-in workshop and paint your own Chichi®work of art at the factory.

Or, you can take a VIP workshop on Thursday evenings in their shop in Punda, Curacao and enjoy a glass of champagne while you work. The cost for the workshop varies based on the size of the Chichi® you choose to make. It’s the perfect artistic activity for those looking for things to do beyond the beach in Curacao. You can find them at Juan Luis 87a on the east side of Curacao.”


4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester
Photo Credit: atastefortravel.ca (left) and Canva (top and bottom right)

Do You Travel to Discover Hands-On Experiences?

Let us know in the comments below what your favourite activity in this list is – and if you have any great additions to share with us. We are always adding to this page, so keep your suggestions coming! Look below for more information about creative travel and where else in the world you can have great hands-on experiences:


There is so much to explore in the world, how do you decide where to go next?

The Travel Tester is all about mindful travel and we love matching your passions to destinations on the planet. So whether your travel for food, nature, family, creativity, history, culture, innovation, adrenaline, wellness, good karma or personal growth, we’ll have something for you to experience wherever you go. Click the button below to find out more:



Coronavirus / COVID-19

There are currently travel restrictions all over the world. For the current advice, see the website of the World Health Organization. Be sensible and don’t travel if you don’t really need to!

Creative Tourism Network

If you are looking for more creative tourism examples, then make sure to head over to the website of the Creative Tourism Network, as they are a fantastic source of information and inspiration for your upcoming travels. 

The Creative Tourism Network is the international organization for the Creative Tourism development worldwide. They offer consulting and training to tourism professionals and also host the Creative Tourism Awards to reward projects, companies and destinations that foster the new generation of tourism with the active participation of tourists in creative activities.


Map of Central America & The Caribbean Creative Travel and Tours

Creative Traveller’s Handbook

My travel blogger friend Elena wrote a wonderful book about creative travel that I can highly recommend reading. In this inspiring handbook, she answers not only the question who creative travel is for, but she gives practical tips on how to be creative on your own travels and how to plan your next creative trip down to all the details.

Read my full review of the Creative Traveller’s Handbook >>

The Creative Traveler's Handbook Review: How and Why You Travel is as Important as Where | Book Review by The Travel Tester

Creative Travel Around the World

Read our other articles:


4 Hands-on Travel Experiences in Central America & The Caribbean You Need to Know About || The Travel Tester



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1 Comment

  1. says: Wes Gaddis

    I agree the best way to explore and learn about a new culture or destination is to get your hands dirty. Spending time by the pool or beach is nice but getting active in the local communities provides for a much deeper connection to the people.

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