Ridley turtles during an arribada at Playa Camaronal. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Sea Turtle Nesting Sites in Costa Rica

Five of the world’s seven species of marine turtles nest on Costa Rica’s beaches, and you can see turtles laying eggs somewhere in Costa Rica virtually any time of year. Most of the important nesting sites in Costa Rica are now protected, and access to some is restricted; there are many more dangers to sea turtle populations than humans. Learn about the sites and the cycle of sea turtle reproduction from nesting to hatching.

Guatemala's impressive Maya Biosphere Reserve. Photo © Al Argueta.

Guatemala’s Biosphere Reserves

Guatemala has more than 90 protected areas encompassing about 28 percent of the country’s total land area. Among the different types of protected areas are biosphere reserves, national parks, biotopes, natural monuments, wildlife refuges, and private nature reserves. Several of these are encompassed within larger areas, as is the case with the national parks and biotopes making up the larger Maya Biosphere Reserve.

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.

A small red eyed frog sits perched on a broad leaf.

Protecting Costa Rica’s Land

While much of Costa Rica has been stripped of its forests, the country has managed to protect a larger proportion of its land than any other country in the world. Today, one-third of land is legally set aside as national parks and forest reserves, “buffer zones,” wildlife refuges, and indigenous reserves. Throughout the country, representative sections of all the major habitats and ecosystems are protected.

Blue Ctenosaur in Santa Rosa National Park. Photo © Jorasm (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

What to See in Costa Rica’s Santa Rosa National Park

Founded in 1972, Santa Rosa National Park was Costa Rica’s first national park. The park–divided into two sections; the more important and accessible Santa Rosa Sector to the south and the Murciélago Sector further north–is a mosaic of 10 distinct habitats, including mangrove swamp, savanna, and oak forest, and is filled with hiking trails to explore and wildlife to watch. There are also great opportunities for scuba diving and surfing.

Paradise Cave is one of the few sights in the park that can be visited independently. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

A labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and jaw-dropping, otherworldly landscapes, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park may be off the beaten path for now, but its anonymity is fading fast. Decked out in eerie, alien rock formations and spindly stalactites, these tunnels are estimated at around 3-5 million years old. Here you’ll find the world’s largest cave, home to a thunderous river, clouds, and an entire jungle ecosystem.

Diving at the RMS Rhone National Park wreck site. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Salt Island and the Wreck of the RMS Rhone

Many islands in the Virgins have salt ponds where crystal salt was collected, but no island had a larger or more productive pond than Salt Island. It’s also home to the wreck of the RMS Rhone, the preeminent dive site in the British Virgin Islands and one of its most visited attractions. Learn about the island’s history and how to thoroughly explore the Rhone’s remains.

A howler monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

The Best Wildlife Spotting in the Belize Cayes

Filled with national parks and wildlife reserves, Belize home to an estimated 145 species of mammals, 139 species of reptiles, and at least 500 species of birds, many of which can be spotted along the cayes. An island vacation doesn’t mean missing out on any of the wildlife—here is what to look out for both inland and offshore.

Trunk Bay is the most exquisite beach on St. John. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Trunk Bay: St. John’s Most Magnificent Beach

Trunk Bay is a vision of fluffy white sand, sea grape trees, and coconut palms. Trunk Cay, just offshore, is a tiny island of rocky cliffs, tufted by hardy palm trees. Named for the leatherback turtles, locally called trunks, which nest here, and fully equipped with facilities, this is what Caribbean beach dreams are made of.

Visitors gazing into the main the crater of Poás Volcano.

Poás Volcano National Park, Costa Rica

There are few volcanoes where you can drive all the way to the rim. At Costa Rica’s Parque Nacional Volcán Poás you can—well, at least to within 300 meters (1,000 feet), where a short stroll puts you at the very edge of one of the world’s largest active craters. Learn about this restless giant’s history, along with trip planning tips to make the most of your visit.