Jaguars have spots within spots, or rosettes, and are larger than leopards. Photo © brezina123.

Balam: Jaguars in Guatemala

The Maya had great respect and reverence for the jaguar, which they called balam. Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead. Scientists have been studying jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, but luckily, you don’t need to go traipsing through the jungle to see one: Guatemala City’s excellent zoo has jaguars, as does Petén’s ARCAS wildlife rescue center.

Currasow. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Explore La Garita, Costa Rica

La Garita is an excellent stop for nature lovers, boasting a botanical orchid garden and a wildlife rescue center that welcomes visitors to explore its expansive grounds. There are also two lovely places to stay–one modestly appointed but wonderfully comfortable and the other a far more lavish, luxurious property–that make the trip especially pleasant.

Glasswing butterfly, Monteverde Butterfly Garden. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Family Fun in Costa Rica

Combining educational options with fun keeps children (and parents) enthralled. From snakes and sloths and crocodiles to river safaris and air tram rides through the forest and above volcanoes, these ideas focus on outdoor adventure & learning while experiencing nature.

Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island, Australia.

Visit Australia’s Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsundays, and when you first arrive, you may feel like you’re in a relatively large town. But, besides some rather gorgeous private holiday residences, this is pretty much a giant resort. Learn about the ins and outs of staying here, along with information a few key locations and getting around.

A koala clings to a branch.

Zoos and Animal Sanctuaries in Kuranda, Australia

If you’re a fan of things that creep and crawl, fly and flutter, you’ll find your fill in Kuranda’s zoos. Children especially enjoy these attractions, though there’s certainly enough to keep adults entertained with the sheer variety of species and the chance to sight wildlife up-close and personal without a trip into the bush.

A Swainson's Toucan poses for a picture at the Pana'ewa Rainforest Zoo.

Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo in Greater Hilo

Not many travelers can visit a zoo in such a unique setting, where the animals virtually live in paradise. The Pana‘ewa Rainforest Zoo is small, delightful, and home to both endemic and introduced species. A visit will take a full day; here’s helpful trip planning information and tips.

A pandanus palm at the Arboretum. Photo © Malcolm Manners, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

On the Wild Side: Bermuda’s Nature Reserves

Bermuda may seem like a manicured garden, but many parishes maintain national parks and nature reserves perfect for travelers interested in seeing Bermuda’s wilder side. Often these parks and reserves are excellent hiking and bird-watching spots as well.