No trip to Livingston is complete without a visit to Los Siete Altares, a series of seven waterfalls connected by a lazy jungle creek. The whole thing is set amid lush rainforest, and while it's a pretty spot year-round, it's best to visit during the rainy season, when the creek and waterfalls are running at their strongest. All of the local hotels and tour agencies offer guided hikes or boat trips here. The falls are located just off the beach, some 5km (3 miles) north, and it's easy to walk here by following the simple path that parallels the beach heading out of Livingston. Whether you come by yourself or with a guide, make sure you go all the way to the top and final waterfall. (Some bored or rushed guides will only bring their group to the first waterfall or two.)

There's a fabulous pool for swimming by the final waterfall -- and several others along the way -- and the adventurous can dive off the top of the falls into the pool. Sadly, the natural beauty is offset by graffiti, which covers the rocks.

If you go on a guided hike, it will almost certainly begin with a walk through the village of Livingston, giving you an intimate look into the daily lives of some of the locals. From here you'll climb to a promontory with a good panoramic view of the town and the Caribbean, then continue on to a small river, where a waiting canoe will take you on a short ride through the mangroves to the beach. These tours cost around Q90 ($12/£6) per person, and include a simple lunch. A boat trip can replace the hike (a positive for some), and cost around Q100 to Q150 ($13-$20/£6.50-£10) per person. If you sign up for a guided tour, find out whether or not this entrance fee is included in the price. There's a small comedor at the entrance to the waterfalls where you can get a lunch or something cold to drink.

Dangers & Bothers -- While I highly recommend hiking to Los Siete Altares, I'd be remiss if I didn't warn you of two serious problems. First, despite the fact that it's easy to walk by yourself, be sure to ask your hotel about the current security situation. Over the years, tourists have been attacked and robbed along this walk. Don't do it alone or in a very small group, and make sure to do the hike in the busy part of the day, between 9am and 4pm, when there will be other groups and tourists around. Second, no matter whom you go with, be forewarned that the beach between Livingston and Los Siete Altares is perhaps the most garbage-strewn stretch of sand I've ever seen. On one hike there I encountered a solid band of plastic bottles, old shoes, and other assorted refuse at least 1m (3 1/2 ft.) wide running the entire 5km (3 miles) between the town and the waterfalls, just beyond the high-tide line. Local industry leaders claim it is a seasonal phenomenon that is caused by a mix of heavy river runoff, coastal currents, and tidal conditions.