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.

Lionfish hovering over coral. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Belize’s War Against Lionfish

The Caribbean region’s coral reef has been battling an invasive, voracious, and predatory fish—destructive enough that it can devastate an entire reef system: the red lionfish (Pterois volitans). Belize is no exception. Countrywide, the war against the spread of lionfish is ongoing; here’s how Belize is fighting back.

Sunset on Anegada's southern coast. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Discover Anegada of the Virgin Islands

Flat, empty, and so low-lying that early explorers feared it would slip beneath the sea, Anegada and its accompanying charms are singular among the Virgin Islands. Its attractions are simple: fresh seafood, solitude, and miles of empty white beaches. Athletes and adventurers can complement the quiet times with world-class kitesurfing, or expeditions through the island’s wild interior.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park. Photo © Steven Prorak/123rf.

Hiking, Camping, and Backpacking in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend offers more than 200 miles of hiking trails ranging from short, easy nature walks and day hikes to primitive mountain trails for experienced hikers and overnight backpackers. There’s truly something for everyone here—families can take their time on moderate trails with printed interpretive brochures as a guide, while hard-core backpackers have the option of taking backcountry trails into the desolate wilderness for challenging treks at their own pace.

Gourds produced by the calabash tree were used for storage by the Taíno. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

All About Puerto Rican Trees

The official tree of Puerto Rico is the ceiba, an incredibly useful plant to island’s indigenous Taínos along with the unique calabash tree. Learn about their historical use, plus other remarkable trees of Puerto Rico, from ubiquitous palms and important mangroves to vibrant flamboyans and lovely mameys.

Giant elephant ears at Sage Mountain National Park. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Hiking Sage Mountain National Park

Sage Mountain National Park, a 92-acre park in west-central Tortola, is home to scenic overlooks, a forest untouched for over 500 years, and a host of delightful tropical trees, flowers, and animals. Hikers will enjoy cool air, dozens of signs that identify trees and plants along the trails, and climbing to the highest point in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

A tapir in Costa Rica's Corcovado National Park.

Animals Found in Costa Rica

Anyone who has traveled in the tropics in search of wildlife can tell you that disappointment comes easy. But Costa Rica is one place that lives up to its reputation. Costa Rica is nature’s live theater—and the actors aren’t shy. Learn about the hundreds of animals you’re likely–and not–to spot in Costa Rica.

The mariposario (enclosed butterfly garden) at the Jardín Botánico del Quindío. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Colombia’s Jardín Botánico del Quindío

Outside the town of Armenia, the well-run Jardín Botánico del Quindío is home to hundreds of tree and plant species, many of which are threatened. Knowledgeable volunteer guides lead visitors on a mandatory 2.5-hour tour along jungle paths pointing out plants, trees, and birds visitors would otherwise miss.

The colorful pools of Caño Cristales. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Hiking Caño Cristales, Colombia

Here in the remote Llanos, you’ll be rewarded as you trek through the stark lowland hills of the Serranía de la Macarena, with its unusual dry tropical vegetation, and behold the vibrant purple, fuchsia, goldenrod, and green Macarenia clavigera plants swaying in the gushing streams of Caño Cristales.

A blue morpho butterfly sits in a person's hand.

Spotting Butterflies in Costa Rica

With nearly 1,000 identified species of butterflies (approximately 10 percent of the world total), Costa Rica is a lepidopterist’s paradise. You can barely stand still for one minute without checking off a dozen dazzling species. Here’s more about the amazing and unique species you’ll spot, along with the best times to go searching.