Although tipping is not a natural part of many Western cultures it is expected in Central America, where many workers are very poorly paid and depend on tips for their main income. The local people work very hard to provide a good service and this is due in part to the tips they have received from foreigners in the past. However all tips are at your own discretion and you should not feel obliged or pressured to tip at any time - particularly if you feel that the level of service was not up to standard.
As a general guideline a gratuity of 10% of the total bill for your waiter is recommended in restaurants. You should be aware that prices on the menu often exclude service charges but they are added to the bill (10%) and local taxes (anywhere between 2% and 20%). If it is included then you are not expected to pay an additional tip, although this is still appreciated. Some restaurants have a “cubiertos” (cover charge) which is normally added onto the food section of the bill, not the total, so watch out for this when dividing the bill with other group members.
It is customary to tip your local guides on both included and optional excursions. As a guideline, we recommend US$3-5 per person for a half/full day excursion. Your tour leader will generally pass around an envelope for the local guide on included excursions. The tour leader will indicate on the envelope the amount of the tip usually given per person to the guide. This information is given as a guide as many clients are unsure how much to tip. Should you wish to give the local guide your tip personally and not with the group tip then please feel free to do so.
Tips are also appreciated by your tour leader at the end of your tour. This, however, this is only if you feel that their service was up to standard and is completely at your own discretion. Tipping is an entirely personal gesture.