A bougainvillea-draped doorway at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Photo © Justin Henderson.

Best Puerto Vallarta Day Trips

If you’re based in Puerto Vallarta and set on spending all your nights here, you can still get out of town for a day at a time. From can’t-miss outings to easy-going changes of scenery, here are some great options by car, bus, and boat.

A sulphur lake lies in the crater of a Tecapa Volcano near Alegria, El Salvador. Photo © lanabyko/123rf.

Planning Your Time in Northern and Eastern El Salvador

Northern and eastern El Salvador remain largely untrodden, especially the eastern parts of the country, where heavy fighting took place during the civil war. These remote areas may take a little more effort to get to, but they are the gateway to authentic Salvadoran culture, uncorrupted by tourism and relatively unfazed by American influence.

Red dirt with clustered grasses in the foreground while a flat-topped arch spans across the landscape in the background.

The Variety and Splendor of Arches National Park

A concentration of rock arches of marvelous variety has formed within the maze of sandstone fins at Arches National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States. Bill McRae and Judy Jewell offer advice on how to plan your time and where to go to experience the best Arches has to offer.

Playa Espadilla in Manuel Antonio National Park. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Planning Your Time in Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Region

Costa Rica’s Central Pacific zone is predominantly a beach destination. It’s easily explored along the coast highway, with side roads branching off into the mountains or beaches. Take at least one week to explore the entire region north to south, or three days if you want to concentrate on either Manuel Antonio, Jacó, or Dominical—the three main destinations.

Sámara seen from a Flying Crocodile ultralight flight. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Planning Your Time on Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula

Known for its magnificent beaches and a long dry season with sizzling sunshine, the Nicoya Peninsula is the epicenter of Costa Rican beach vacations. Most tourism activity is along the dramatically sculpted Pacific shoreline. Although each beach community has its own distinct appeal, most remain barefoot and traditional, appealing to laid-back travelers who can hang with the locals and appreciate the wildlife that comes down to the shore.

Sun Bay Beach in Vieques. Photo © Mark Franco/123rf.

Best Vieques Beaches

Aside from Mosquito Bay, the main reason to come to Vieques is to enjoy the staggering beauty of its miles of remote, pristine beaches and clear, turquoise waters. Each beach has its own unique characteristics—some are calm and shallow, others have big crashing waves, and still others offer spectacular snorkeling. Several are accessible only from dirt trails, off road or by foot, so bring sturdy shoes. And don’t forget the bug spray.

Scuba divers set out from the Águila de Osa Inn at Drake Bay. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Things to Do in Drake Bay, Costa Rica

On the north side of the Osa Peninsula, Drake Bay lies between the mouth of the Río Sierpe and the vastness of Parque Nacional Corcovado. It’s a good base for sportfishing and scuba diving, and for hikes into nearby wildlife refuges and the national park.

Parroquia de San Migel Arcángel in San Miguel de Allende. Photo © Julie Meade.

An Expert Guide to the Top Destinations in Mexico

From beachfront yoga retreats to avant-garde photography exhibitions, international performing-arts festivals to breathtaking wilderness, Mexico is a fascinating place with a seemingly endless variety of experiences to offer. The constant is the warmth of its people and culture—and, of course, its enviable weather—near-perfect year round. If you’re considering a trip to Mexico in 2016, here’s a primer to the country’s most popular destinations right now.

The canopy of a rain tree extends out over the waters of Lake Cocibolca.

Seven Days Down the Río San Juan

The watery “Golden Route” through southern Lake Cocibolca and down the Río San Juan is unquestionably worth a visit, especially the photogenic fort and river town at El Castillo. To explore this region, plan on spending about a week, though choosing just one of these places for a three-day trip is feasible.