Travel

Looking for a Unique (and Affordable) Triathlon Adventure? Head South

Central and South America are calling with pristine beaches, epic rides, and cultural experiences that will leave you fitter and smarter than when you left—all without breaking the bank.

Yes, Mexico is a popular south-of-the-border option for warm training during the chilly months. But head farther south and you’ll discover exotic triathlon frontiers with fantastic features for training, racing, and relaxing. Here’s your guide to Central and South America triathlon destinations.

Ancient Multisport Civilization

Central America Triathlon Destination: Flores, Guatemala

Why

Outside of Guatemala City there exists miles of beautiful roads, clear water, and volcanoes (yes, volcanoes) to explore. Inexpensive prices abound and the Guatemalan people are incredibly friendly—no matter how much spandex you’re wearing.

How

Relatively inexpensive direct flights from Miami take less than three hours.

Where to Stay

Though Guatemala City is generally busy, the best bang-for-your-travel-buck is to take a short flight to Flores, where travelers can swim, bike, run, race, and take in Mayan history. Stay at the nearby triathlete-owned Gringo Perdido (Hotelgringoperdido.com) for a wide range of budgets or splurge at Las Lagunas (Laslagunashotel.com).

What to Do

Around Flores, tour ancient Mayan temples that are both fully restored and still in excavation in Tikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can go for a run through the ruins. Go for a ride in the well-paved countryside and gaze upon the hundreds of unexcavated Mayan ruins disguised as hills. Swim in the almost boat-free waters of Lago Petén Itzá as howler monkeys scream overhead.

When to Go

November to April is the dry season, but it can vary based on elevation and ocean proximity. Try to hit the Flores area and the Gran Jaguar half-iron distance tri in November or the shorter Hombre Maya in June. Be aware that temperatures for that region can average between mid-80 to mid-90 degrees F.

Local Tips

Estuardo Cofiño
Born in Flores, Guatemala—triathlete for two decades
Why Estuardo loves Flores for tri
“Crystal clear waters, and you can run inside the jungle.”
Pre-ride breakfast
Mon Ami in Peten
Big post-workout meal
Las Orquideas in Peten

Tropical Tri Paradise

South America Triathlon Destination: Curacao

South America Triathlon Destinations

Why

Just off the northern shore of South America is a 170 square-mile island that is technically a part of the Dutch kingdom. The turquoise waters and small coved beaches are an adventurous cultural alternative to the more well-tread destinations in the northern Caribbean.

How

Nonstop flights from New York into Hato International Airport in Willemstad can be inexpensive, based on the season; Charlotte, Miami, and Toronto also offer nonstop flights.

Where to Stay

For the full resort experience, stay at the moderately priced Santa Barbara Resort (Santabarbararesortcuracao.com) in Newport on the south end of the island—white sand beaches and a humongous 2,000-acre property featuring four restaurants that range from fine dining to beach cafe ensure you won’t need much else. For more tri-specific lodging, seek out Lion’s Dive (Lionsdive.com), a resort that caters to active travelers with a focus on wellness via unlimited access to the nearby Body Beach Wellness Club with fitness classes and a beautiful onsite 50-meter lap pool.

What to Do

Alongside the world-class beaches and crystal-clear waters, Curaçao is known as a scuba diving hotbed due to its warm water temperatures, coral reefs, and even sunken shipwrecks. When it’s time to train, open-water swim at the Sunscape Resort beach area, where there’s a reef break and no boat traffic; bike on the south side of the island during the week in areas like Fuik and Caracaasbaai, where you’ll find 12-18-mile loops with less traffic after 5 p.m., and on the weekend, head north. For off-road running, check out Jan Thiel Salt Pans for stunning trailside ocean views.

When to Go

April to November is the dry season, but also be sure to check out the new can’t-miss SOS Curaçao Tri in March 2020 with a unique bike/run/swim/run/swim/run/swim/run format. Don’t worry, no matter when you go, air temperatures average between 80-86 degrees F and the water is always a pleasant 78-82 degrees F.

Local Tips

Oz Marchena
Born in Willemstad, Curaçao—triathlete since 1999
Why Oz loves Curaçao for tri
“You can train all year long, it’s sunny almost every day, and not much rain. Crystal clear warm water means no need for wetsuits, and water from the tap is very safe to drink!”
Pre-ride breakfast
De Dames in the Salinja neighborhood of Willemstad
Big post-workout meal
Plein Café in Downtown Willemstad

Seaside Cultural Adventure

South America Triathlon Destination: Lima, Peru

South America Triathlon Destinations

Why

This often unsung South American metropolis not only boasts big city culture and amenities, but its subtropical desert climate guarantees mild temperatures, excellent training, and a thriving triathlon community. Though Lima is a little bit more of a hike from the U.S. (a 5.5-hour flight from the closest U.S. airport, Miami) it’s also the gateway to Cusco and the Incan world of Machu Picchu.

How

Nonstop flights from L.A., Houston, Miami, and more—just expect a slightly higher airfare due to the distance.

Where to Stay

Stay in the beachside area of Lima known as Miraflores. Try Tierra Viva (Tierravivahoteles.com)—with two locations in the Miraflores area—for something inexpensive, or 70.3 Peru’s host hotel Wyndham Dazzler (Wyndhamhotels.com) if you’re looking
for a few more amenities.

What to Do

Because it’s such a diverse city, Lima has tons of options for both activity and rest. Stay close to Miraflores and pick up some souvenirs at the famous Larcomar shopping district, walk the colonial streets of Lima, or check out the Barranco historic district. If you’re looking for more action, swim with sea lions off nearby Palomino Island, paraglide, or book a biking tour. When it’s time to train, see about wrangling a day pass at the Playa 3 Club Regatas Lima with their pre-set ocean buoys or try the nearby Pescadores beach. If you’re looking for something with lane lines, Aqualab San Borja has a 50m pool that visitors can use for $10/hour. For cycling, be sure to check out the Costa Verde bikeway for short rides or travel south to Calango for miles of low-traffic roads and some good climbing. Locals say the best trail running is at El Morro Solar in Chorrillos.

When to Go

December to April is considered summer time in Peru, but with a moderate seaside climate pretty much year-round, temperatures rarely dip below 60 degrees F or go far above 80 degrees F. Rainfall is almost non-existent, so don’t worry about packing a raincoat, but try to time your trip with the nearly-new 70.3 Peru that’s held in April.

Local Tips

Arturo Bayly
Ten-time Ironman finisher, three-time 70.3 worlds qualifier, and coach
Why Arturo loves Lima for tri
“Nice weather and you can enjoy our world class ceviche as recovery!”
Pre-ride breakfast
El Pan de la Chola in Dasso
Big post-workout meal
LongHorn Steakhouse in San Isidro