A boulder at the Baths National Park. Photo © Todd VanSickle.

Experience Baths National Park, BVI

Virgin Gorda’s Baths National Park is one of the most famous sights in the British Virgin Islands. The Baths are a landscape of building-size boulders, clear saltwater grottoes, and powder-white beaches. There are endless pools for exploring, swimming, and snorkeling. The park is a playground, where even grown-ups are tempted to climb over and around, looking for a quiet pool or hidden room.

Where to Travel in 2016 Moon Travel Guides

Where to Travel in 2016: A Month-by-Month List

Most of us at Moon have an ever-growing list of places we want to visit, a common side effect of working on travel books. This list reflects a few of the destinations that inspired our wanderlust in the last year. There are trip-of-a-lifetime–type destinations, and there are smaller destinations, but all of them triggered that classic reverie, imagining what it would be like to be there, feeling that pull.

Gourds produced by the calabash tree were used for storage by the Taíno. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

All About Puerto Rican Trees

The official tree of Puerto Rico is the ceiba, an incredibly useful plant to island’s indigenous Taínos along with the unique calabash tree. Learn about their historical use, plus other remarkable trees of Puerto Rico, from ubiquitous palms and important mangroves to vibrant flamboyans and lovely mameys.

Giant elephant ears at Sage Mountain National Park. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Hiking Sage Mountain National Park

Sage Mountain National Park, a 92-acre park in west-central Tortola, is home to scenic overlooks, a forest untouched for over 500 years, and a host of delightful tropical trees, flowers, and animals. Hikers will enjoy cool air, dozens of signs that identify trees and plants along the trails, and climbing to the highest point in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

La Muralla, a nearly 400-year-old wall that surrounds Old San Juan. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Puerto Rico’s Iconic City Wall: La Muralla

The most enduring symbol of Puerto Rico is La Muralla. Nearly 400 years old, the city wall is composed of rock, rubble, and mortar that wraps around Old San Juan from the cruise-ship piers on San Juan Harbor to the capitol on the Atlantic Ocean. Its iconic sentry boxes serve as a symbol of the island’s Spanish heritage and resilience in an ever-changing world.

The beach at Long Bay in Tortola. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Planning Your Time on Tortola

High hills, winding roads, and spectacular vistas define Tortola, the most populous and most developed of the British Virgin Islands. Exploration on Tortola is an adventure, one whose rewards include secluded beaches, memorable day hikes, and colorful beach bars.

Hacienda Buena Vista. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Visit the Restored Hacienda Buena Vista

Hacienda Buena Vista is a carefully restored 19th-century coffee plantation just north of Ponce, Puerto Rico. Left to rot and rust after the land was expropriated by the Puerto Rican government, in 1984 an extensive restoration project brought the hacienda back to life and now offers guided tours by reservation and an exclusive harvest of coffee beans.

The Anegada rock iguana is making a comeback, thanks to the iguana head-start program. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Anegada’s Iguana Head-Start Facility

Thanks to BVI government efforts, the critically endangered Anegada rock iguana–once outnumbering people on the island–is making a strong comeback. Learn about the iguana head-start facility and its efforts to save the species. Since iguanas in the wild are incredibly shy, this facility is also your best chance to see one, and it’s well worth it to visit.

The brand new waterfront of Paseo Tablado La Guancha. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s South Coast

Instead of lush, rocky coastlines, rough Atlantic waters, mountainous karst country, and a dense population, Puerto Rico’s south coast features a flat, dry topography, and considerably less commercial development. It’s a great place to go if you want to escape the traffic and American influence found elsewhere on the island. And there are many great historic and cultural sights to explore.

The view from Gorda Peak on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands of the Carribean.

Exploring Nature on Virgin Gorda

Mid-island, Virgin Gorda remains relatively unspoiled because of the difficult topography and exceptionally rich in rare and endangered species. On the western shore, the green hillsides cascade down to a string of white sand beaches. Here in the middle of the island, you’ll find great hiking, a beautiful beach, and nature lovers will definitely want to explore one of the best examples of dry forest in the islands.