While they are rarely used, apart from walking by the locals, the seemingly endless, sand-dollar-rich, wide white-sand beaches that run nearly the entire length of the coast of La Mosquitia are one of the country's overlooked gems. There is practically no garbage here, apart from bits of driftwood and other rubbish that has washed up from other parts of the Caribbean. The water is warm, and you can spot the occasional dolphin passing by. Nowhere else in the entire Caribbean will you see this much unused beachfront. Sand flies and mosquitoes are a slight concern, though they are not nearly as bad as in the Bay Islands.
The most popular tour, especially for those not going to Las Marías, is to hire a boatman to take you to explore the wildlife-infested creeks of Parú, Ilbila, and Banaka (L1,500 for 1-3 people), where there are good opportunities to spot birds, deer, paca, and monkeys. There are even occasional reports of jaguar sightings, though don't hold your breath. There will be some leisure time to float on inner tubes, as well.
During the nighttime, a favorite excursion is to go crocodile spotting (L600 for 1-3 people) in the small canals and mangroves near Belén. In the early evening, you'll venture by boat armed with flashlights to search out the red-eye reflections of crocodiles and caimans. You'll likely spot plenty of bird life, too, during the 1- to 2-hour trip.
Like in nearby Garífuna villages, Raista/Belén loves to put on a show for visitors who set up the cultural activity ahead of time. During the night, a local women's group performs a series of traditional Miskito songs and dances (L850 per group), passed down from generation to generation. A traditional dinner is also served.
A very basic, 4- to 5-hour jungle survival course (L600 for 1-3 people) can be taken from Raista, as well. A local guide will teach how to find food and water, identify medicinal plants and teach you their uses, and explain how to find your way in the jungle.
Previously, there was the Raista Butterfly Farm at the Raista Ecolodge, though at last visit, it was not operating.
For all activities, contact Melissa Bodden at Raista Ecolodge and Mario Miller at Pawanka Beach Cabanas before arrival. Prices are dependent on the number of participants.