Misty mountains surround Jinotega. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

A Week in Nicaragua’s Great Green North

Nicaragua north of Managua is offbeat and less visited, giving the creative traveler lots of opportunities. Each town has a swimming hole, local hike, or archaeological site that will beckon you farther, immersing you in an authentic and sublime world you won’t soon forget.

Volcán Concepción. Photo © Dreamstime.com.

Nicaragua’s Best Volcano Hikes

No trip to Nicaragua is complete without visiting at least one volcano. Dormant and active peaks are scattered up and down the Pacific half of the country. With a couple exceptions, most of these hikes are long and challenging, requiring an experienced guide. Here are the best volcano hikes from north to south.

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.

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.

View of Lover's Point. Photo © Stuart Thornton.

Itinerary: A Long Weekend in Monterey

Time in Monterey should be spent exploring the bay itself, whether by visiting the world-renowned Monterey Bay Aquarium or heading out in the water on a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, or whale-watching vessel. Head out for long weekend maritime escape with this three day itinerary.

Fire Ginger at Esquinas Rainforest Lodge in Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica.

All About Piedras Blancas National Park, Costa Rica

Centered on the village of La Gamba, Piedras Blancas National Park was split from Parque Nacional Corcovado in 1999. The rainforest has no shortages of unique plants to admire, wildlife to watch, and plenty of other ways to spend your time. Here are suggestions for your visit, along with the best places to stay.

A scenic highway leads south from Petén into Alta Verapaz. Photo © Al Argueta.

Las Verapaces: Guatemala’s Green Heartland

Las Verapaces remains green and lush throughout most of the year. From exploring beautiful cloud forests to remote hikes to discovering a lagoon in the middle of the rainforest, outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of vibrant, unique landscapes to experience. Here’s a sampling of the best.