San Bas Panama

Plastic in Our Oceans affects the Caribbean and Panama

At first glance, this picture of a beautiful, serene beach on the San Blas Islands of Panama looks pristine, but in reality, it is hiding a dirty secret, millions of small broken shards of plastic mixed in with its sand.

We live in a disposable plastic world. We eat out of plastic, drink out of plastic and just about everything around us has some plastic in it. It fills our world’s landfills, lakes, streams, and oceans and unlike organic waste, it doesn’t break down. You can’t burn it like paper without releasing toxic fumes into the air. The only way to deal with plastic is to recycle it. Unfortunately, many countries don’t have an effective waste management system and that plastic doesn’t get recycled. It may not even make it to a landfill. Many people often discard their trash improperly because they just don’t see why proper disposal is important. Often it ends up in the ocean where it washes up on the shores of countries like Panama and its neighbors, the San Blas Islands.
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Puerto Rico earns Safe Travels Stamp from WTTC

On May 1st, 2020, Puerto Rico instituted their Gold Star Health and Safety Seal program. The goal of the program is to certify all tourism-related businesses to a high standard of safety and cleanliness in order to get tourism moving again and to give travelers the confidence of knowing they can travel to Puerto Rico safely.

The Gold Star program is based on standards established by the CDC, WHO, and other expert agencies. These new standards are applicable to all hotels, resorts, paradores, posadas, bed & breakfasts, small inns, guesthouses, time-shared properties, short-term rentals, casinos, tour operators, tourist transportation, experiences management, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and attractions.

Their efforts have now earned them the Safe Travels stamp from the World Travel & Tourism Council. Puerto Rico was the first destination in the U.S. to receive this distinction. You can find out more about the WTTC’s Safety Stamp Program and see what destinations have already been certified on their website. The following Vamonos destinations have also earned this Safety Stamp: Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Spain.

Virtual Immersion Experiences

Vivamonos is an educational live platform that connects classrooms with remote and unique destinations in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean. Students and teachers can enjoy safe, high quality, live sessions with cultural ambassadors, experts, and leaders that can provide new perspectives in real time. Get the chance to provide a broader global awareness using technological tools to create interactive activities. Workshops, chats, cooking classes, and virtual choir concerts are few of the activities that educators can use as an extra educational resource. Programs are customized to the class level, and time and day, with no extra logins.

View our catalog for our list of activities including seasonal experiences.

SYTA Road Scholar Application Now Open

SYTA is now taking applications for the Road Scholar program until November 13th. A Road Scholarship is financial aid granted to individuals or groups who are nominated by a teacher or youth group leader and who meet criteria within five categories:

  • Achievement – Accomplishment in the student or group’s area of focus.
  • Need – Financial. Cultural. Linguistic. Home life hardship.
  • Initiative/Involvement – Preparation financially or through enrichment activities.
  • Service/Citizenship – Student citizenship within the classroom or community. Family service in the military or as a first-responder.
  • Connection – Relevance to student or group’s area of focus.

Costa Rica Reopens to the Entire US on November 1st, 2020

As of November first, Costa Rica will begin accepting tourists from any state in the U.S. Until then, the country is only accepting travelers residing in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. Until Nov. 1st, you will need a state issued driver’s license to prove your state of residency in order to enter the country.
Requirements to enter the country after November 1st will remain as they currently are. Tourists need to meet the following criteria for entrance:

  • Fill out a certification online through HealthPass that they have do not have any Covid19 symptoms
  • Take a molecular Covid test and receive negative result no more than 72 hours prior to departure
  • Provide proof of international travel insurance that has a minimum of $50,000 in coverage for medical expenses and an additional $2,000 coverage for lodging in case of Covid diagnosis while in country

You can purchase travel insurance in the U.S. that meets the above criteria or you can purchase the travel insurance directly from Costa Rica. If you opt to purchase the insurance from Costa Rica directly, you can do so at the same HealthPass link above (make sure that the insurance meets the criteria for entry).

Any travelers not meeting the criteria above will not be granted entrance to Costa Rica. Please note that the above information could change at any time. Please check with the Costa Rican Embassy for the latest information for tourists traveling from the U.S.

Edit: As of October 25th, a Covid-19 test is no longer required, but HealthPass certification and and the requirement for travel insurance remain in effect.

Puerto Rico Opens to Tourism Next Week!

On Monday July 15th, Puerto Rico will once again open its island to greet tourists. All countries and states in the U.S. are welcome. However,  there are some new requirements that must be met by each person prior to entering the island. Below is a link to Discover Puerto Rico outlining the new requirements. You will want to read this article carefully before going so that you can be sure to have an amazing visit.


Puerto Rico Travel Advisory