Ocean waves meet petrified sand dunes at Cueva del Indio, on Puerto Rico's northern shore.

Spending Time in Manatí

For years most visitors to Puerto Rico blew right past the town of Manatí on their way west from San Juan to attractions in Arecibo or the west coast. Though the town of Manatí proper isn’t much of a draw, the surrounding area is home to excellent scenic drives, beautiful treasures of nature, a quiet preserve with quite a bit of history, and plenty of outdoor activities.

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.

Magen's Bay on St. Thomas. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

A St. Thomas Weekend Getaway Itinerary

Dip your toes into the U.S. and British Virgin Islands with an extended weekend getaway to St. Thomas. Sample the beaches, snorkeling, shopping, and dining, and return home revived and refreshed. Good air connections make this a practical choice for visitors from the eastern United States.

El Fortín, a circular fortress tower, in Heredia, Costa Rica.

Heredia, Costa Rica’s City of Flowers

Heredia, seven miles north of San José and colloquially known as La Ciudad de las Flores (City of Flowers), is surrounded by coffee fields. A pleasant atmosphere pervades the grid-patterned town despite its jostling traffic, making it easy to wander. There’s something here for history buffs, coffee aficionados, nature lovers, and after all that, the nightlife is pretty good too.

Playa Sardinera in Hatillo. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s North Coast

The north coast of Puerto Rico is a wild expanse of rocky coastline and gorgeous ocean views, hilly karst country, and green farmland. It’s also thick with industrial plants, shopping centers, fast-food restaurants, road construction, and traffic. Despite the urban sprawl, though, the north coast has a lot going for it.

The Asian Golden Weaver. Photo © Kajornyot/123rf.

Planning a Visit to Tram Chim National Park

The stunning landscapes of Tram Chim National Park are awash with tall grass, flat, waterlogged land, and over 230 different aquatic birds. Visitors trace the watery avenues and flooded forests of this picturesque Delta scene by boat, spotting everything from an abundance of slender-necked storks to the vibrant yellow Asian golden weaver to towering sarus cranes.

Parque Nacional Natural Utría on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Plan a Visit to Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Utría

Colombia’s Parque Nacional Natural Utría has a spectacular location on the edge of the jungle but close to some great beaches. The best way to experience the park is to stay in one of its cabins during the week, allowing you unfettered access to all the guided nature walks, kayaking, snorkeling and more, as well as immersing yourself completely in this beautiful landscape.

View of Lake Atitlán from Casa Palopó. Photo © Al Argueta.

Best Boutique Hotels and Jungle Lodges in Guatemala

Guatemala has some of the hippest digs anywhere on the planet. If you’re sick and tired of hotels that all pretty much look the same and enjoy the opportunity to check out unique boutique hotels and jungle lodges near worthwhile attractions, then this list is for you.

Four-eyed butterfly fish along the Belize Barrier Reef. Photo © Lebawit Lily Girma.

Plan a Visit to Bacalar Chico National Park Marine Reserve

Located on and around the northern tip of Ambergris Caye, Bacalar Chico National Park and Marine Reserve hosts an incredibly diverse array of wildlife, offers excellent snorkeling and diving, and is rich with history. Here’s your guide to planning a visit, from all about the reserve’s sights to where to stay, what to eat, and how to get there.

The beach at Long Bay in Tortola. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.

Planning Your Time on Tortola

High hills, winding roads, and spectacular vistas define Tortola, the most populous and most developed of the British Virgin Islands. Exploration on Tortola is an adventure, one whose rewards include secluded beaches, memorable day hikes, and colorful beach bars.