View from the Nounou Trail. Photo © Christopher Thomas, licensed CC-BY 2.0.

Hiking Nounou Mountain, Kaua‘i’s Sleeping Giant

The Nounou Mountain Trails comprise three trails. They are all inland in the mountains above Wailua and zigzag over Nounou Ridge, the Sleeping Giant. Many feel the nearly four-mile round-trip Nounou Mountain East Trail is the prettiest of the three, while the Kuamo‘o-Nounou Trail is about two miles one way and is tough, but suitable for a fit family. Lastly, the Nounou Mountain West Trail is 1.5 miles and one hour each way, and a little shorter and less steep than the east-side trail.

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.

Spotting a green iguana in Tortuguero National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Wildlife Viewing in Tortuguero National Park

Tortuguero National Park is a mosaic of deltas on an alluvia plain nestled between the Caribbean coast on the east and low-lying volcanic hills to the west. The park protects the nesting beach of the green turtle, the offshore waters, and the wetland forests extending inland.

A surfer and horseback riders enjoy Playa Guiones. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to Do in Nosara, Costa Rica

Whether you’re looking to relax on beautiful beaches, spot wildlife in a sanctuary setting, enjoy an adventure tour on an ATV, or simply commune with yourself through massage or yoga, Nosara will cater to your every whim. Here’s a roundup of all the things to do in this classic Costa Rica destination.

Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. Photo © Donnie Shackleford/123rf.

Hiking and Biking the North Bay

Marin County, in the North Bay, is San Francisco’s backyard. Beginning with the Marin Headlands at the terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a nearly unbroken expanse of wildlands from San Francisco Bay to Tomales Bay. Here you’ll find rugged cliffs plunging into the Pacific, towering redwoods, the area’s tallest mountain, and verdant pastures.

Laguna Lachua in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

Laguna Lachuá National Park, Guatemala

Laguna Lachuá National Park, an almost perfectly circular turquoise lagoon, is its own ecological island, like a square patch of forest floating on a surrounding sea of deforestation. Here you can enjoy the refreshing waters and the dense forest all around in an atmosphere of utter tranquility.

Crystal-clear stream on Cerro Chirripó. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Hiking Chirripó National Park

Chirripó National Park protects hundreds of thousands of acres of of high-elevation terrain surrounding Cerro Chirripó, Costa Rica’s highest peak. No guides are required for hiking the Termómetro trail, but they are compulsory for the Herradura trail.

A boy studies a preserved specimen in the San Ramón Museum.

San Ramón and the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden

San Ramón is a gateway to Costa Rica’s northern lowlands via a mountain road that crests the cordillera, then begins a long sinuous descent to La Tigra. This agricultural and university town is known for its Saturday feria del agricultor (farmers market). A mere nine miles north is the Nectandra Cloud Forest Garden, where superb hiking trails and truly wonderful places to stay.