One of the most geographically diverse nature preserves in the country is Parque Nacional Jeanette Kawas, named for a slain environmentalist. The park, also known as Parque Nacional Punta Sal, protects mangrove swamps, tropical forests, shady lagoons, and coral reefs. It is likely you will see as many as 60 howler monkeys having their breakfast if you head out early enough in the morning. The males gesticulate from their perches in the treetops, while the females, many with tiny babies, watch from a wary distance. You may also come across white-faced monkeys, some of which have developed a habit of throwing avocado pits at visitors—be ready to duck. Radiantly colored parrot and vine snakes, almost shoelace thin, ripple through the foliage. They are harmless, but be sure to watch your step.
If you take the Los Curumos trail, you can hear the waves as you reach Puerto Caribe, one of the hiding places of the notorious pirate Captain Morgan. Turtles and dolphins swim here in the
turquoise waters. If you snorkel, you may see barracudas and nurse sharks, as well as spindly lobsters taking a slow-motion stroll.
You can see Punta Sal jutting out into the ocean from Tela, which might make you think it's quite close. It's actually difficult to reach, so you should considering hiring a guide. It's also a great way to learn about the exotic animal and plant species (there are 14 types of banana here, for example). The park is only accessible by water, and the trip to the park takes about an hour. Laguna de los Micos has the largest bird population in the park.