The thin stream of McWay Falls takes backseat to the dramatic rocky cove studded with pines.

Coastal California Road Trip: The Sights of Big Sur

Soaring cliffs dropping to sporadic white-sand beaches exemplify the Big Sur coastline made legendary in film and literature. The region is explored via Highway 1, also called the Pacific Coast Highway, a road that hugs sheer cliffs and passes several state parks, resorts, and restaurants like Nepenthe, seemingly perched on the edge of the world.

Lightning strikes far in the distance beyond the flat calm waters of the lake.

Laguna de Apoyo in Masaya, Nicaragua

Nicaragua’s cleanest and most enticing swimming hole is Laguna de Apoyo, just outside of Masaya. Actually a lake that formed in the drowned volcanic crater of the long extinct Apoyo Volcano, the lagoon floor reaches 200 meters in depth—the lowest point in all of Central America. Considering how easy it is to reach the lagoon, it is surprisingly untouristed.

View of colorful houses clustered on a verdant shore across a calmly rippling lake.

Guatemala’s Petén Department: Sights Near Flores and Santa Elena

There are a variety of attractions in and around Flores and Santa Elena that work well if you have a day or half a day while awaiting connecting flights or onward travel. ARCAS, Petencito Zoo, and Tayazal are a five-minute boat ride across the lake from Flores’s north shore, while the Parque Natural Ixpanpajul covers an area of nine square kilometers and is conveniently just off the highway toward Guatemala City.

Two boats float offshore as gentle waves lap on the shore of a wide sandy beach with dense tropical foliage just beyond.

Ilha Grande and Ilha Gipóia in Brazil’s Angra Bay

The largest of the many beautiful islands in the Bay of Angra, Ilha Grande boasts more than 100 pristine white-sand beaches. The second largest island, Ilha Gipóia is also the most visited, blessed with its own beaches, the surrounding waters are ideal for snorkeling and diving.

A herd of water buffalo rest in a pool of water surrounded by short grasses.

Ilha de Marajó in Para, Brazil

This Switzerland-size island, some 90km northwest of Belém, boasts deserted beaches and mangrove swamps teeming with exotic cranes, herons, ibises, and thousands and thousands of water buffalo.

Discover Idaho with James P. Kelly

James P. Kelly chats about the Trailing of the Sheep Festival, the best spots for skiing, his favorite restaurant in Boise (it’s actually a cocktail lounge), and more.

Small colorful parrots cluster on the ground floor to eat.

Ecuador’s Top Five Wildlife Wonders

Ecuador is about the same size as Colorado, but its terrain varies from pacific beaches to 5000-meter-high peaks and tropical rainforest. Such diversity contains an astonishing array of creatures; here are the top five destinations for wildlife watching.