The village of Stonington on Deer Isle.

Deer Isle and Isle au Haut Travel Planning

Isle au Haut is a remote section of Acadia National Park that’s raw and rugged, beautiful, even breathtaking in parts, a place where it’s easy to feel far removed from civilization. Nearby is Deer Isle, a colony of artists and artisans inspired by these landscapes.

One of the many islets that make up the Solentiname archipelago. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

The Solentiname Archipelago and the Río San Juan

The Río San Juan carries the waters of Lake Cocibolca to the Caribbean through a lush landscape of extensive nature reserves and broad cattle ranches. The biggest town in the area, San Carlos, has transformed from edgy port town to quaint destination, while offshore, the Solentiname Archipelago is a quiet group of islets of striking natural beauty. This region isn’t part of the casual traveler’s itinerary, but if you can invest a little more time than usual, the dramatic landscapes and remoteness will impress you.

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.

Isla del Coco. Photo © Rodtico21 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Diving Isla del Coco Marine National Park

The only true oceanic island off Central America, Parque Nacional Marino Isla del Coco is one of the world’s best diving spots, famous for its massive schools of white-tipped and hammerhead sharks, eerie manta rays, pilot whales, whale sharks, and sailfish. Snorkelers swimming closer to the surface can revel in moray eels and colorful reef fish.

Playa Zoni in Culebra. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Discover the Islands of Vieques and Culebra

Referred to as the Spanish Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra are often described as “the way Puerto Rico used to be.” There are no fast-food restaurants or high-rise hotels, no golf courses or casinos, virtually no nightlife, and few tourist sights. What they do have are stunning beaches, world-class water sports, and lots of opportunity for R&R.

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.

Vieques features miles of deserted beaches and bright blue water. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Vieques, Puerto Rico

In a world where change is constant, it’s nice to be reminded that some things stay the same. That is a big part of the charm of Vieques; a sleepy little island where life moves at a snail’s pace, cats and horses wander the island freely, and the only alarm clock you need is the crow of the roosters that run the place. Put these general planning tips into play for your visit, but know that the secret to enjoying Vieques is to chill out and let things unfold in their own way and time.

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Moon Washington

Travel writer and Seattle resident Matthew Lombardi provides an insider’s view of the Evergreen State, from Seattle’s arts, culture, and snow-capped peaks to the fire and ice of the state’s most venerable volcanoes. Lombardi offers itineraries such as Volunteer Vacations, Quintessential Washington Eats, and Great Drives in Washington. Complete with details on climbing Mt. Rainier, […]

Aerial view of northern cayes. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Where to Go in the Belize Cayes

Regardless of where you go in the Belize Cayes, days are spent alfresco: kayaking, sailing, fishing, feasting on fresh catch, swimming alongside rays and turtles, gazing at magnificent frigatebirds hovering in blue skies. Or mastering the art of dolce far niente: the sweetness of doing nothing. Here’s an overview of island highlights.

Blue ocean meets white sand on Sandy Cay's beach.

Where to Go on Jost Van Dyke

Only four miles long and three miles wide at its broadest point, Jost Van Dyke is nevertheless home to three locales that draw visitors month after month: spectacular White Bay, one of the best beaches in the entire Virgin Islands; Bubbly Pool, likened to a high-priced spa treatment; and Sandy Cay, the perfect desert island. Learn all about these three incredible places.