Cacti along the coastline of Shark Bay National Park on the island of Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Off the Water: Forests and Parks in the Virgin Islands

Away from the water, the Virgin Islands are a fascinating and richly diverse landscape: rocky bluffs and wide plains; mountain peaks and dry seaside forests; salt ponds and rainforest. Pack a pair of walking shoes, a water bottle, and a sense of adventure to get up close to the natural world away from the ocean.

Double-striped thick knee bird. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Plan a Visit to Hacienda La Aurora, Colombia

Hacienda La Aurora is in many ways a typical extensive cattle-ranching farm of the Llanos. In many others, it isn’t at all. Here’s what you need to know to plan a visit, including when to go, where to stay, what to do, and the amazing wildlife you’ll see.

Orange-billed nightingale-thrush in La Paz Waterfall Gardens. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Best Wildlife Watching Spots

National parks, wildlife refuges, and biological reserves are found throughout the country. They range from swampy wetlands to dry-forest environments and from lowland rainforests to high-mountain cloud forests. Sign up for guided natural-history excursions or hire a local naturalist guide. You’ll see many times more critters in the company of an eagle-eyed guide.

Cyclist in San Jose's Parque la Sabana. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Recreational Tours in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has scores of tour operators offering a complete range of options. Here are recommended general tour operators as well as specific recommended tours from horseback-riding and hiking to bird-watching and cruises and nearly everything between.

The jagged Cerro Tatamá (4,250 meters/13,945 feet) is the highest point in the Cordillera Occidental.

Visit Parque Municipal Natural Planes de San Rafael

Located in the remote, little visited Cordillera Occidental (Western Mountains), the Tatamá Massif contains one of the world’s few remaining pristine páramos (highland moors). Access to Tatamá is through the Parque Municipal Natural Planes de San Rafael, a cloud forest where the main activities are nature hikes conducted by friendly and knowledgeable guides.

Peaceful and cool Minca is a nice break from the beach. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Discover Minca, Colombia

If you’ve had your fill of beaches or the seductive Caribbean cities, maybe it’s time for an altitude adjustment. The blissful routine of life in Minca–mountain hikes, dips in invigorating swimming holes, and sunset ogling–may make you want to linger here.

Two swans with black necks and bright red beaks swim through the water.

Visit Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca in Argentina

Designated a major international wetland under the Ramsar convention, Parque Nacional Laguna Blanca has a large breeding population of striking black-necked swans. It’s also the place to spot coots, ducks, grebes, gulls, upland geese, and the occasional flamingo.

A Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) puffs its feathers on this cold and snowy day in April.

GNP Flora and Fauna: North Fork’s Unique Creatures

Glacier National Park hosts a plethora of plants and animals; lots of usual suspects, such as bears, wolves, elk, and bighorn sheep, but also quite a few unique species. Most interesting among them are species of the North Fork, including incredibly tiny animals, some weighing even less than an ounce, and creative carnivorous plants. And with North Fork’s plentiful and varied bird species, birders will have a ball.

A long-legged shore bird stands in the water fishing.

Bird Watching on Moloka‘i

Although many of Hawaii’s original bird species have gone the way of the dodo, there are still a number of rare and critically endangered native bird species clinging to existence high in the Moloka‘i forests or down on the protected seashore. For a chance a spotting one yourself, visit these protected Moloka‘i areas.