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  • Snorkeling at Shark-Ray Alley & Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Northern Cayes and Atolls, Belize): These two very popular sites are threatened with overcrowding but still live up to their billing. Shark-Ray Alley guarantees a close encounter with schools of large stingrays and nurse sharks. The experience provides a substantial adrenaline rush for all but the most nonchalant and veteran divers. Hol Chan Marine Reserve is an excellent snorkeling spot comprised of a narrow channel cutting through a rich and well-maintained shallow coral reef.
  • Riding an Inner Tube Through the Caves Branch River Cave System (Cayo District, Belize): Strap on a battery-powered headlamp, climb into the center of an inflated car inner tube, and gently float through a series of limestone caves, your headlamp illuminating the stalactites and the occasional bat. The entire sensation is eerie and claustrophobic at times, but fun nonetheless -- especially if you go with a small group on a day when the caves are not crowded.
  • Watching the Sunrise from the Top of a Pyramid in Tikal (Guatemala): A visit to Tikal is a remarkable experience on its own, but our favorite way to start a visit here is by catching the sunrise from the top of one of the pyramids. In addition to the ruins and sunrise, the surrounding jungle comes to life with the cries of howler monkeys and the frenzied activity and calls of awakening birds.
  • Paying Your Respects to Maximón (Guatemala): A syncretic saint worshiped by Guatemala's Maya and Catholic alike, Maximón is the bad boy of the religious pantheon. Maximón supposedly responds well to gifts, and has very specific tastes, so be sure to bring some rum or a cigar as an offering. Many towns across Guatemala have a carved idol of Maximón, or San Simon, although only a few really keep the practice of his daily worship alive. The towns with the most elaborate Maximón rituals and traditions include Santiago de Atitlán and Zunil.
  • Touring the Towns & Villages around Lake Atitlán (Guatemala): While Lake Atitlán is exceedingly beautiful in and of itself, the true charm of the lake is its ability to let you visit a half-dozen or more lakeshore towns via local water-taxi services. The water taxis run regular routes throughout the day, stopping at the villages of Santiago de Atitlán, San Pedro de la Laguna, San Marco, San Antonio Palopó, and more. You can hop on and off the taxis at your whim, and stay as long as you like before heading on to the next place or back home to your hotel.
  • Exploring the 35km (22 miles) of Winding Mountain Road and Villages of the Rutas de Las Flores (El Salvador): If you're tight on time, this route offers an excellent sample of what El Salvador has to offer. The route is known primarily for its small towns, each offering something different, from the furniture craftsmen of Nahuizalco, to Juayua's weekend food and craft festival, to the artsy vibe and cool restaurants of Ataco. The route also offers amazing views of thousands of flowering coffee plants and one of the country's highest and longest zip-line canopy tours.
  • Seeing Suchitoto (El Salvador): This is one of El Salvador's most beautiful and unique towns and well worth the easy, 1-hour drive north of San Salvador. After a turbulent history during El Salvador's civil war, Suchitoto has reemerged as one of El Salvador's leading international arts and cultural centers, with the country's most luxurious boutique hotels and a famous international arts festival. But despite its international flair, Suchitoto is still very much a distinctly El Salvadoran town, close to the historic town of Cinquera, home to a weekend artisans market, and surrounded by amazing mountain views.
  • Eating a Baleada (Honduras): The iconic snack food of Honduras, served in streetside stalls and sit-down restaurants all over the country, is a folded wheat tortilla stuffed with refried beans, crumbled queso blanco (white cheese), sour cream, and occasionally egg, chicken, beef, avocado, onions, or tomatoes. It's so delicious that, after tasting one, you might never want to leave the country.
  • Seeing the Still-Smoking Flor de Copán Factory (Santa Rosa de Copán, Honduras): The Flor de Copán tobacco factory is world-renowned for its production of fine cigars like the Don Melo line. A tour here involves a walk through of the factory's heady drying and deveining rooms and witnessing the country's most skilled rollers working firsthand. Even if you hate smoking, this is a great chance to mingle with real Hondurans, outside the standard tourist industry.
  • Visiting Volcán Masaya (Masaya, Nicaragua): The Spanish called this volcano the "Gates of Hell" and you can understand why when you see its boulder-spitting craters and glowing red lava fields. Volcán Masaya is easily one of the most accessible and scariest live volcanoes in the region -- it's also one of the most exciting to see up close. Also worth a climb or look are Volcán Maderas and Volcán Concepcion.
  • Turtle-Watching in San Juan del Sur (San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua): After a spot of sun worshiping on Nicaragua's beaches, come out at night and see one of nature's true wonders -- massive turtle hatchings on the very beautiful Playa La Flor. The best time to see turtles nesting is August and September.
  • Gaping at Arenal Volcano/Soaking in Tabacón Hot Springs (near La Fortuna, Costa Rica): When the skies are clear and the lava is flowing, Arenal Volcano offers a thrilling light show accompanied by an earthshaking rumble that defies description. You can even see the show while soaking in a natural hot spring and having a drink at the swim-up bar at Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort. If the rushing torrent of volcano-heated spring water isn't therapeutic enough, you can get a massage here, as well.
  • Touring the Osa Peninsula (Southern Costa Rica): This is Costa Rica's most remote and biologically rich region. Corcovado National Park, the largest remaining patch of virgin lowland tropical rainforest in Central America, takes up much of the Osa Peninsula. Jaguars, crocodiles, and scarlet macaws all call this place home. Whether you stay in a luxury nature lodge in Drake Bay or outside of Puerto Jiménez, or camp in the park itself, you will be surrounded by some of the most lush and most intense jungle this country has to offer.
  • Hiking Sendero Los Quetzales (Volcán Barú National Park, Panama): Panama's foremost day hike takes visitors around the northeastern flank of Volcán Barú and through primary and secondary tropical forest and cloud forest that provides a dazzling array of flora and fauna. The trail's namesake resplendent quetzal lives here, too. The trail is mostly downhill from the Cerro Punta side to Boquete, and this is the recommended direction unless you really crave a workout. What's unique about this trek is that travelers lodging around Cerro Punta can send their luggage to their next hotel in Boquete, and walk there.
  • Looking for More Than 500 Species of Birds Along Pipeline Road in Soberanía National Park (Panama): This is the country's "celebrity" bird-watching trail for the immense number of species found here. In fact, for several years Pipeline Road has set the world record for 24-hour bird counts. Even nonbirders can't help getting caught up in the action with so many colorful show birds fluttering about, such as motmots, trogons, toucans, antbirds, colorful tanagers, and flycatchers. The farther you walk or bike along the rainforest trail, the better your chances are of spotting rare birds.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.