View from Granite Point Trail at Point Lobos. Photo © Ken Wolter/123rf.

Visit Carmel’s Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is filled with ragged cliffs, hidden coves, rich marine ecosystems, lovely meadows, and dense pine and cypress forests. Hiking trails crisscross the reserve, the most spectacular of which hug the coastline. Point Lobos might be even more famous for what lies beneath the water than above it; underwater protected areas are home to a diverse marine ecosystem that includes 70-foot high kelp forests.

Rio Celeste Valley in Volcan Tenorio National Park, Costa Rica. Photo © Joerg Hackemann/123rf.

Hiking Tenorio Volcano National Park

Volcán Tenorio, rising southeast of Upala, is blanketed in montane rainforest and protected within Parque Nacional Volcán Tenorio. Local hiking is superb, albeit often hard going on higher slopes. Cougars and jaguars tread the forests, where birds and beasts abound.

View from Hotelito Desconocido. Photo © furphotos, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Rustic Luxury Retreats in Puerto Vallarta

A sprinkling of secluded upscale mini resorts, perfect for a few days of quiet tropical relaxation, have opened in some remote corners of the Puerto Vallarta region. Being hideaways, they are not always easily accessible, but for those willing to make an extra effort, the rewards are rustically luxurious accommodations in lovely natural settings.

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.

A wild turkey strutting through one of Guatemala's archeological sites.

Exploring Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera, Guatemala

Also known as the Quetzal Biotope, only a small part of Biotopo Mario Dary Rivera is open to visitors, but there’s plenty to keep you busy. Nature lovers and hikers for sure will want to stop here; the Biotope’s convenient roadside location means that if you’re on your way to or from Cobán, it’s easy to do.

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

Flying Crocodile Ultralight Flight, Costa Rica

Want to try a flight in an ultralight plane? Head to Playa Buena Vista and the Flying Crocodile Flying Center where Guido Scheidt, a licensed commercial pilot, will take you up in one of his state-of-the-art fixed-wing or autogiro ultralights. Trips from twenty minutes to three days are offered, as well as lessons; stay in one of the nearby cabins for the full experience.

Finca Bona Fide. Photo © Peter Abrahamsen, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Alternative Tourism on La Isla de Ometepe

There are numerous opportunities to support everyday Nicaraguans with your tourism dollars on La Isla de Ometepe. From long-standing solidarity partnerships to sustainable agriculture work and research projects, Ometepe awaits those looking for something a little different.

Rancho Corozal, a private hideaway on the Rio Tatin. Photo © Al Argueta.

Exploring Río Tatín in Río Dulce National Park

One of Guatemala’s oldest parks, the waterway connecting the Caribbean Sea with Lake Izabal is protected as Río Dulce National Park. Along Río Tatín, you’ll find some excellent accommodations built into the surrounding jungle and in complete harmony with their environment. It showcases the region’s wonderful seclusion while at the same time providing a comfortable base from which to explore the area.

Male green iguana in orange mating color. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Plan a Visit to the Caño Negro Wildlife Refuge

Caño Negro is a bird-watcher’s paradise. The reserve protects the largest colony of neotropic cormorants in Costa Rica and the only permanent colony of Nicaraguan grackles. The reserve is also remarkable for its large population of caimans. Find out all you need to know about visiting the refuge and surrounding area.

Kura Design Villa in Costa Rica's Central Pacific. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Unique Costa Rica Retreats: Lodges, Reserves, and More

Consider a stay at a mountain or rainforest lodge, an aerial tree house, or even a working farm for a unique Costa Rica experience. Most have naturalist guides and activities such as canoeing and hiking. Some offer luxury fit for a king; others are basic, although no less endearing.