Costa Rica may risk being overrun by tourists, but Nicaragua has the largest area of primary-growth rain forest north of the Amazon, hundreds of beaches, six active volcanoes, and plenty of sleepy surf towns. Since 2002, the government has created 76 national parks to protect the country's wildlife. There's even Morgan's Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge, inspired by the pioneering Costa Rican ecolodge Lapa Rios. Canopy tours are popping up all over, Holland America cruise ships are docking at the Pacific port of San Juan del Sur, and the Four Seasons Resort at Peninsula Papagayo, in Costa Rica, is offering guests day trips to Nicaragua. After decades of political turbulence, the largest country in Central America is finally on the verge.
THE FACTS Morgan's Rock Hacienda & Ecolodge, 011-506/296-9442; www.morgansrock.com. Holland America Line, 877/724-5425; www.hollandamerica.com. Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo, 800/819-5053; www.fourseasons.com.