A boy studies a preserved specimen in the San Ramón Museum.

San Ramón and the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden

San Ramón is a gateway to Costa Rica’s northern lowlands via a mountain road that crests the cordillera, then begins a long sinuous descent to La Tigra. This agricultural and university town is known for its Saturday feria del agricultor (farmers market). A mere nine miles north is the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden, where superb hiking trails and truly wonderful places to stay.

Even experienced divers will be blown away by the diversity of sea life in the Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo. Photo © Fundación Malpelo y Otros Ecosistemas Marinos.

Diving Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo

Santuario de Flora y Fauna Malpelo is the largest no-fishing zone in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, making it one of the top places for diving in the world. There are 11 main dive sites, including the most important site, La Nevera, where it is common to see scores of hammerhead sharks. Malpelo is for experienced divers only; to get there you must coordinate with one these authorized outfitters in Colombia.

Unitec New Zealand campus. Photo © Ingolfson at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

New Zealand Student Visas

If you want to study in New Zealand for longer than three months, you will need a student visa. Expert author Michelle Waitzman reviews the entire process from application to graduation, including renewals, health insurance, working restrictions, and what to do if you want to bring your family with you.

Higo Chumbo Cactus on Mona Island. Photo © U.S. Fish & Wildlife Southeast Region, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Mona Island’s Colorful Past

Oh, the tales it could tell if Mona Island could speak. Its past is a drama full of marauding pirates, thriving Taínos, and many a shipwreck. Today, in addition to enjoying the island’s great hiking, diving, and bird-watching, visitors can explore the faint remains of the Taíno civilization and mining operations. Petroglyphs, stone walls, cabins, and graves are enduring reminders of Mona’s colorful past.

Playa Las Flores. Photo ©

Where to Go on El Salvador’s Pacific Coast

The secret is out. For years, the beaches of El Salvador’s coast were strictly the terrain of fearless surfers, some who came in the 1970s and dug the waves so much they never left. Today, more and more curious travelers are showing up, discovering beaches interspersed with quaint fishing villages and large coral reefs, white sand beaches perfect for relaxing and swimming, mangroves teeming with colorful birds, beautiful bays, volcanic gulfs, and otherworldly estuaries.

Iximché exhibits much more of a Mexican influence than other Maya sites in Guatemala. Photo © Michal Zak/123rf.

Iximché, Guatemala’s Most Accessible Highland Mayan Site

Iximché is the most easily accessible of Guatemala’s highland Mayan ceremonial sites. It makes an interesting stop for those with an interest in Mayan culture and history because of the differences it exhibits from the lowland Mayan sites of Petén, which date to much earlier times.

Ridley turtles during an arribada at Playa Camaronal. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Sea Turtle Nesting Sites in Costa Rica

Five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles nest on Costa Rica’s beaches, and you can see turtles laying eggs somewhere in Costa Rica virtually any time of year. Most of the important nesting sites in Costa Rica are now protected, and access to some is restricted; there are many more dangers to sea turtle populations than humans. Learn about the sites and the cycle of sea turtle reproduction from nesting to hatching.

Kayaks at Laguna de Apoyo. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Adrenaline Rush in Nicaragua

Athletes and extreme sports fanatics can easily meet their needs in Nicaragua. From uphill biking and scuba diving to white-water rafting and volcano boarding and everything between, here’s where to go to get your adrenaline rush.