cover Moon Big Island of Hawaii

Moon Big Island of Hawaii

Expert traveler Bree Kessler covers the best sights and adventures that the Big Island has to offer, from soaking up the sun on Kona’s iconic white sand beaches to sampling local delicacies at Hilo’s popular farmer’s market. Kessler also offers one-of-a-kind trip ideas, including Eat Your Way Around the Island, Big Island on a Budget, […]

Vatnajökull features miles of white, pure ice, intertwined with blue and smoky hues in interesting shapes formed by compressed ice.

Visiting Vatnajökull Glacier

Iceland earns its ubiquitous “fire and ice” nickname in the Vatnajökull region. Vatnajökull Glacier’s ice cap covers several active volcanoes; you’ll frequently see hot streams erupting from beneath frozen banks of ice.

Winter in Iceland. Photo © Jenna Gottlieb.

Weather and Climate in Iceland

Iceland isn’t as cold as you may think. The Gulf Steam works to moderate Iceland’s climate, but doesn’t mean calm, as it’s also responsible for the frequent weather changes. Weather here is not casual conversation, but serious business; it can change rapidly, from calm winds and sunny skies to rain, snow, sleet and back to calm wind and sunny skies, all in the same hour. It’s unpredictable, frustrating, exhilarating, and confusing for many tourists, but Icelanders have learned to adapt and go with the flow.

La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © La Iglesia El Calvario in Chinandega. Photo © Otto Dusbaba/123rf.

Planning Your Time in León and Chinandega, Nicaragua

In León and Chinandega, you can delve into the volcanic half of “the land of lakes and volcanoes.” Explore the Ring of Fire by peering into a crater lake at the top of Cosigüina, catching a glimpse of lava at night from Telica, or sliding down Cerro Negro at high speeds. There’s plenty to do, whether you come for two days or two weeks–exploring the cities, the shore, and places like Las Peñitas, Isla Juan Venado, Padre Ramos, and other points outside León that require more effort to reach but are excellent destinations.

Volcán Telica. Photo © lanabyko/123rf.

Hiking Nicaragua’s Maribio Volcanoes

Each volcano along the Maribio chain is unique and offers a different sort of adventure from the quintessential cone-shaped volcano, Momotombo, to the most frequently active volcano in the chain, Cerro Negro. Start early for each of these and bring a minimum of three liters of water per person. None of these hikes should be attempted without a guide, but luckily you won’t have any trouble finding a local one. Community tourism projects are growing at the base of many of these volcanoes.

Crater lake inside Volcán Santa Ana. Photo © Hugo Brizard/123rf.

Hiking Parque Nacional Los Volcanes, El Salvador

Parque Nacional Los Volcanes commonly known as Parque Cerro Verde, includes three prominent volcanoes that create the El Salvador’s most poetic portrait. They are of distinct ages rarely seen so close together. Volcán Izalco is the youngest volcano in Central America; Cerro Verde is considered middle aged, formed around 25,000 years ago; and Santa Ana is one of the region’s oldest volcanoes.

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.

City street in Granada, Nicaragua. Photo © Dreamstime.

Planning Your Time in Granada and Masaya

All within an hour of the capital Managua, Granada, Masaya, and Carazo contain a taste of Nicaragua’s must-sees. Both Granada and Masaya make excellent bases for your excursions around the country, or you can make day and overnight trips from the capital. Either way, you’ll find quaint colonial towns, smoking volcanoes, lagoons, traditional artistry, coffee farms, and the crashing tide of the Pacific Ocean.