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La Fortuna de San Carlos is at the center of an array of geological wonder. The nearby Arenal is Costa Rica's most active volcano, routinely bursting with lava and ash, and the Catarata de La Fortuna is a waterfall pouring from a seventy-meter cliff. The Tabacon Hot Springs are a relaxing intermission in the midst of the various spectacles, and the Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat is a blissful end to any day's excursion.
San Pedro is "La Isla Bonita" that Madonna made famous. Now it's a tourist mecca, but still boasts great beaches and plenty of dive shops so you can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea. Plan a side trip to Caye Caulker while you're here; it is less developed and more laid back, and has its own splendid swimming areas.
Sunny Cancun has much more to offer than its party-town reputation might suggest. Plenty of gorgeous, drama-free family resorts cater to folks who want to experience the tropical Yucatan climate. There are significant Mayan ruins here, such as El Rey and the Yamil Lu’um, a crumbling tower of pale gray stone. Learn more about this ancient civilization at the Museo Maya de Cancun. For a literal taste of Mexico, take a tour of the Museo Sensorial del Tequila.
Isla Mujeres offers a wide variety of tempting options for beach lovers, and is a relative bargain. Snorkel with tropical fish amid coral reefs, skim the blue waters by kayak or boat, or windsurf along the shores of soft, sandy beaches. On land, you can sunbathe, dine on seafood, dance to Latin rhythms, tour on a moped or belly up to the bar for fresh, delicious drinks.
Aruba is the quintessential Caribbean island, all sun and sea and stretches of powdery white sand. Time will slow to a pleasant crawl as you linger over a tropical cocktail or flutter serenely underwater, where only the parrotfish are in a hurry. The pastel façades of Oranjestad landmarks and shops lend an inviting and playful vibe to the capital city. Enjoy the shade of an Eagle Beach divi tree while the crashing waves of turquoise water create a soothing soundtrack just for you.
Puerto Rico offers the perfect balance of rum-soaked nightlife and tranquil retreat. The Spanish colonial buildings of San Juan set a perfect backdrop for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Hike the massive El Yunque rainforest to see waterfalls, stone towers, and colorful Puerto Rican wildlife. As far as beaches go, it doesn’t get better than the private sands of Isla de Vieques – particularly Mosquito Bay, where by moonlight the water glows blue-green thanks to magical microorganisms.
It's no wonder Machu Picchu is Peru's most-visited site. Dating to the mid-1400s, it's a marvel of mortar-free limestone architecture perched on a high plateau deep in the Amazonian jungle. Get there via train from Cusco or, if you're not faint-hearted, make the trip on foot via a multi-day hiking trail—you'll travel through deep Andean gullies and enjoy stunning views.
The Hawaiian island of Maui is a destination for true nature lovers. The ethereal bamboo forest and churning waterfalls in Haleakala National Park can be explored via the Waimoku Falls Trail. Stretch out on warm, golden sands or hit the surf for an unforgettable windsurfing or snorkeling session. Driving the scenic road to Hana along the island’s northeastern shore will be among the most spectacular journeys of your life. Time stands still at the Hawaiian village of Keanae, definitely worth a visit.