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.

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.

Blue Ctenosaur in Santa Rosa National Park. Photo © Jorasm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

What to See in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park

Founded in 1972, Santa Rosa National Park was Costa Rica’s first national park. The park–divided into two sections; the more important and accessible Santa Rosa Sector to the south and the Murciélago Sector further north–is a mosaic of 10 distinct habitats, including mangrove swamp, savanna, and oak forest, and is filled with hiking trails to explore and wildlife to watch. There are also great opportunities for scuba diving and surfing.

Hikers running along the crater of Acatenango Volcano. Photo © Al Argueta.

Hiking and Biking Antigua’s Volcanoes

Antigua’s setting is spectacular, flanked on its southern extreme by the towering 3,750-meter (12,325-foot) Agua Volcano. The colossal 4,235-meter (13,044-foot) Acatenango and active Fuego Volcanoes lie to the west. The surrounding hillsides provide wonderful views of the valley and the volcanoes, and are excellent terrain hiking and mountain biking.

A sailfish on Guatemala's Pacific Coast. Photo © Al Argueta.

Outdoor Sports in Guatemala

Whether you’re an enthusiastic hiker or cyclist, an avid rock-climber or sport-fisher, Guatemala’s great outdoors has a treat in store for you. While some activities, such as rock climbing, are relatively new and others, like sailfishing, are long established, Guatemala is definitely suited to their pursuit.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Photo © Steven Prorak/123rf.

Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend offers more than 200 miles of hiking trails ranging from short, easy nature walks and day hikes to primitive mountain trails for experienced hikers and overnight backpackers. There’s truly something for everyone here—families can take their time on moderate trails with printed interpretive brochures as a guide, while hard-core backpackers have the option of taking backcountry trails into the desolate wilderness for challenging treks at their own pace.

The Camino Real between Barichara and Guane. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Traveling Barichara’s Camino Real

A must-do activity in Barichara is to take the 5.3-kilometer Camino Real path to the pueblo of Guane. It’s a lovely path that zigzags down from the plateau of Barichara through farmland, affording nice views of the countryside. You don’t need a guide: It’s well marked, well trodden, and safe.

Covehead Lighthouse on Prince Edward Island. Photo © Vadim Petrov/123rf.

Exploring Prince Edward Island National Park

The sandy beaches, dunes, sandstone cliffs, marshes, and forestlands of Prince Edward Island National Park represent the island as it once was, unspoiled by 20th-century development. Opportunities to explore the park are many, with interpretive centers, plenty of hiking, beautiful sandy beaches and campgrounds of all kinds.

View from the path to Laguna Verde. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking to Laguna Verde

The hike up to Colombia’s sulfurous Laguna Verde, a dazzling, emerald green crater lake on the north side of the dormant Volcán Azufral, is easy to make from Pasto. A sacred site for the Pasto indigenous people, the volcano is part of the Nudo de los Pastos mountain range and requires some preparation and an afternoon to scale.

Suspension bridge at Mayflower Bocawina National Park. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Planning a Visit to Mayflower Bocawina National Park

Mayflower Bocawina National Park in the Belize Cayes comprises more than 7,100 acres of Maya Mountain wilderness set aside to protect and showcase the area’s five waterfalls and green-fringed Mayan ruins. A trail system offers excellent independent hiking with guides and tours offered to enhance the experience, and plenty of other adventures.