Topography surrounding San Vito. Photo © Eric T Gunther (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Planning Your Time in South-Central Costa Rica

The south-central region is the Cinderella of Costa Rican tourism. A larger proportion of the region is protected as national park or forest reserve than in any other part of the country. Much remains inaccessible and unexplored. Herein lies the beauty: Huge regions such as Parque Nacional Chirripó and Parque Internacional La Amistad harbor incredibly diverse populations of Central American flora and fauna.

A Class IV rapid on the Río Cahabón in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

The Raging Rapids of the Río Cahabón

Guatemala’s best white-water river is the Class III-IV Río Cahabón. In addition to the exhilarating rapids, the traverse downstream on its emerald waters is interspersed with more tranquil stretches that afford opportunities to view several species of birds and explore caves, waterfalls, and hot springs along its forested banks.

A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.

The Natural Beauty of Nicaragua’s Las Isletas

The 365-island archipelago of Nicaragua formed when Volcán Mombacho erupted some 20,000 years ago, hurling its top half into the nearby lake in giant masses of rock, ash, and lava. The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular there is plenty for history buffs to enjoy as well. The islanders themselves are interesting and friendly, maintaining a rural lifestyle unique in Nicaragua: Children paddle dugout canoes or rowboats to school from an early age, and their parents get along by fishing and farming or by taking camera-toting tourists for a ride in their boats.

Spotting a green iguana in Tortuguero National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Wildlife Viewing in Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is a mosaic of deltas on an alluvia plain nestled between the Caribbean coast on the east and low-lying volcanic hills to the west. The park protects the nesting beach of the green turtle, the offshore waters, and the wetland forests extending inland.

San Andrés Ruins. Photo © Raúl Arias, licensed Creative Commons usage.

The Indigenous History of Panchimalco and the San Andres Ruins

The area surrounding San Salvador is rich with history and natural beauty. If you are in the area, it is definitely worth making a short drive (or bus ride) to explore the wonderful sights of Panchimalco and San Andrés Ruins and learn more about the indigenous people of El Salvador.

Mayan glyphs. Photo © Al Argueta.

Lost and Found: The Mystery of Guatemala’s Site Q

For much of the 20th century, looters worked Petén’s remote sites undisturbed, raiding tombs and extracting precious artifacts before archaeologists had a chance to study and document them. At the height of the looting, in the 1960s, archaeologists marveled at a series of magnificent glyphs making their way into a number of private collections and museums from an unknown site. Archaeologists dubbed the pieces’ origin “Site Q” and the search to find the mysterious producer of the wonderful glyphs was on.

Beach at Cahuita National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to See and Do in Laid-Back Cahuita

The offbeat village of Cahuita is an in-vogue destination for backpackers and escapist vacationers who like things simple. What you get are golden- and black-sand beaches backed by coconut palms, an offshore coral reef, and an immersion in Creole culture, including Rastafarians, with their dreadlocks and a lifestyle that revolves around reggae, Rasta, and—discreetly—reefer.

Coffee ready for roasting at a cooperative. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Tourism Cooperatives in Nicaragua

The best way to get to know Nicaragua is to spend time with Nicaraguans, and small farming communities across the country have created local tourism options for foreigners who want a deeper experience. Supporting these tourism cooperatives keeps money in the local economy and promotes sustainable socio-economic growth, which means communities can maintain their identity and families can stay together.

A wild turkey strutting through one of Guatemala's archeological sites.

Exploring Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera, Guatemala

Also known as the Quetzal Biotope, only a small part of Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera is open to visitors, but there’s plenty to keep you busy. Nature lovers and hikers for sure will want to stop here; the Biotope’s convenient roadside location means that if you’re on your way to or from Cobán, it’s easy to do.

A surfer and horseback riders enjoy Playa Guiones. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to Do in Nosara, Costa Rica

Whether you’re looking to relax on beautiful beaches, spot wildlife in a sanctuary setting, enjoy an adventure tour on an ATV, or simply commune with yourself through massage or yoga, Nosara will cater to your every whim. Here’s a roundup of all the things to do in this classic Costa Rica destination.