Our retirement search continues into 2017 and much like 2016, it continues to center on Central and South America. Here’s what’s on our radar for 2017:

Cozumel and Tulum, Mexico

This will be our first retirement trip for the New Year. Tulum and Cozumel are both scuba diving havens that are a quick flight from Denver. Southwest Airlines (my preferred airline due to my husband’s work points) flies from Denver into Cancun with only a short lay-over in Houston. From Cancun, it’s a quick 90 minute trip to both locations (by boat for Cozumel and by car for Tulum).

Tulum is located on Mexico’s mainland, right on the coast of the Caribbean sea. Tulum is home to some of the most well-preserved Mayan ruins in Central America and has a plethora of jungle trails to explore. It’s also undiscovered compared to Cancun and Cozumel. Only 10,000 residents currently call Tulum home, which makes it a place to get away from the hustle and bustle. Scuba diving is only 15 minutes by boat from shore, which means a quick trip for swimming with sharks and turtles.

Cozumel is an island off Mexico’s Caribbean coast. Ferries shuttle tourists and residents alike from Cancun to Cozumel multiple times throughout the day. Cozumel is a tourist mecca, which means it could be prime for rental properties. The island is full of large-scale hotels and there are numerous shops touting scuba diving, kite-boarding, booze cruises, and paddle-boarding tours. We worry this town may be too much of a tourist trap for us.

We plan to check out both Tulum and Cozumel on a 2017 trip to Mexico.

Beautiful Tulum coast

Granada and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

Nicaragua will be another two-city trip for us in 2017. We will fly into Managua, Nicaragua and drive to both Granada and San Juan del Sur. (Unfortunately Southwest doesn’t have any flights that go into Nicaragua, so we will be on another airline.)

Granada and San Juan del Sur are two very different cities located within driving distance of each other in the same country. Granada is laid-back local town located high in the mountains and San Juan del Sur is an ex-pat surfer’s paradise on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

We want to try both and see if either one feels like our retirement home! After we loved our stay in the jungle in Nosara, Costa Rica, we decided to check out not just beach front locations, but those in the jungles and mountains as well! Hence, why we are checking out Granada. Once of the most exciting things about Granada is that it is located on a volcanic crater lake, Lake Apoyo. Nearby is Lake Nicaragua, both of which have plenty of scuba diving (one of our must-haves in retirement!). Lake Nicaragua even has fresh water sharks!

San Juan del Sur is supposedly what many beach towns in Costa Rica were over twenty years ago. Prices in San Juan del Sur are still very low, with houses that overlook the ocean selling for less than $100,000. Ex-pats are starting to discover this place, so there’s a few nice local amenities such as a microbrewery (yum, yum, yum!) Plus the rental market here sees some pretty solid business, especially during the American winter. That works out well for us since we plan to live in a warm place during the American summer and stay in the US to ski during winter.

The Golden Gate Bridge of San Juan del Sur!

Roatan, Honduras

This is the number one location on my scuba diving bucket list and one of the top five locations my husband and I want to explore for retirement. Roatan is an island about 90 miles off the coast of Honduras, right in the Caribbean Sea. It’s situated at a latitude that shelters it from most hurricanes and inclement weather. The weather is consistently warm throughout the year and the waters are constantly clear. Scuba diving with sharks, dolphins, and whale sharks (seasonally!) are all possible here. Plus, cost of living is still affordable.

Of the above locations, Roatan is the most difficult to reach. Currently, there are no direct flights from US cities, except Miami. Most flights connect from the US to Roatan through El Salvador or Costa Rica. The thought is that we probably won’t make it to Roatan until the end of 2017, maybe for our annual Thanksgiving trip!

Dolphins in Roatan


Although it’s a long shot that we will get to Ecuador this year, I’m keeping it on the list. Ecuador remains one of our top locations to explore.  Ecuador is still incredibly cheap. A person can get a full-course dinner for less than $10 dollars and a stellar AirBnb for less than $30/night. Also, it’s home to mountain ranges, sea-side towns, Amazon jungles, and diverse flora and fauna. Ecuador is home to the Galapagos Islands after all 🙂

One of the places we’d most like to explore in Ecuador is Los Banos de Agua. If you’ve never heard of Los Banos de Agua, Ecuador, you’re missing out. Los Banos, which literally means “the baths”, is home to some of the most amazing clear springs in the world. Some are warm, some are cool, perfect for fitting whatever mood you are in that day. Los Banos is also an adventurer’s paradise, complete with giant tree swings over canyon floors! Yes, I want to try it!

Swinging over Banos Ecuador

Sweden and Norway

And separate from our Retirement-search travels, we will be headed to Scandinavia! This was a present for my husband’s 35th birthday. He’s always wanted to see Radiohead live in concert. Since Radiohead are only touring in Europe next year, I bought us tickets to see Radiohead play at the Globe in Sweden. (Watch my next article on how I kept lodging and airfare under $2000 for a full two weeks!)

My husband has always wanted to kayak the fjords in Norway too. Since we will only be 1.5 hours by air, we will be heading over to Bergen, Norway to experience the fjords for ourselves. We can’t wait to see the cool, clear waters surrounded by gorgeous jaw-dropping mountains.

Finally, we are doing one of my bucket list items, which is to stay in the Ice Hotel in Sweden. The Ice Hotel will be open in summer for the first time ever in 2017, thanks to solar cooling. We will be spending one night sleeping in an igloo under reindeer pelts!

Ice Hotel Room

Happy New Year Everyone! I can’t wait to share more with you in 2017!

Tags : 2017 travelcentral americamexicoretirement searchsearch for paradisetravel itinerary

The author Jodine

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