Whale-watching near Húsavík. Photo © Filip Fuxa/123rf.

Iceland’s Best Wildlife-Watching

Iceland offers some of the best whale-watching and bird-watching opportunities in the world’s northern reaches. But there’s more to the island’s wildlife than just the star attractions—seals and reindeer are also worth seeking out.

A puffin in North Iceland. Photo © Bjorn Ludviksson/Dreamstime.

Iceland’s Animals

Iceland may not be known for its land mammals—other than sheep, cows, horses, reindeer, and arctic fox—but animals in the ocean and sky are varied and ample. Here’s a look at what you’ll find in the water and the air; whale- and bird-watchers will be delighted with the sheer number of species!

Nicaragua's national bird, the turquoise-browed ... Photo © Jeff Grabert/123rf.

Explore Miraflor Nature Reserve in Nicaragua

More than a trip into Estelí’s misty mountains, a visit to Miraflor is a trip backward in time. Miraflor is unabashedly rustic, natural, and unpretentious. Declared a protected natural reserve in 1990, this rudimentary tourist infrastructure was developed by locals. You can certainly visit parts of Miraflor in a day trip from Estelí, but consider experiencing the unique and friendly lodging options.

Guatemala's Scarlet Macaw. Photo © Al Argueta.

Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station

Las Guacamayas Biological Research Station sits amid verdant jungle on the shores of the Río San Pedro, a 20-minute boat ride from the village of Paso Caballos. It is one of the best places in Petén to combine wildlife-viewing and rainforest trekking while staying in relative comfort, offering easy access to the ruins of Waka’ and the surrounding forests.

Rancho Corozal, a private hideaway on the Rio Tatin. Photo © Al Argueta.

Exploring Río Tatín in Río Dulce National Park

One of Guatemala’s oldest parks, the waterway connecting the Caribbean Sea with Lake Izabal is protected as Río Dulce National Park. Along Río Tatín, you’ll find some excellent accommodations built into the surrounding jungle and in complete harmony with their environment. It showcases the region’s wonderful seclusion while at the same time providing a comfortable base from which to explore the area.

Caribbean coastline at Guanica Dry Forest Reserve. Photo © Jason Ross/123rf.

Bosque Estatal de Guánica, Puerto Rico

Guánica is so completely different from the rest of Puerto Rico that you’d think you were on a whole other island. Called Bosque Estatal de Guánica, the 10,000-acre reserve contains hiking trails, caves, beaches, and the ruins of a Spanish fort, among other sights. The coast offers great snorkeling and diving.

Male green iguana in orange mating color. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Plan a Visit to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Caño Negro is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The reserve protects the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and the only permanent colony of Nicaraguan grackles. The reserve is also remarkable for its large population of caimans. Find out all you need to know about visiting the refuge and surrounding area.

Peccary at La Selva Biological Station. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Plan a Visit to La Selva Biological Station

One of Costa Rica’s premier birding sites, La Selva Biological Station offers guided nature walks with phenomenal wildlife viewing. There are a handful of tours offered, including an early-bird walk and for those who choose to overnight in comfortable dormitories, a nocturnal tour.

Punta Piñuela in Ballena Marine National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Costa Rica’s Ballena Marine National Park

Parque Nacional Marino Ballena protects the shoreline of Bahía de Coronado and the waters surrounding Isla Ballena. Wildlife and bird watching are rich here, but perhaps the most pleasant draw are the places to stay near the park, with beautiful bungalows and rustic cabins surrounded by acres of forest trails. After a day spent snorkeling, watching dolphins frolic, and exploring the park, you’ll be treated to incredible meals.