Bernal Díaz was born in San José, Costa Rica. His father owned a coffee and sugar cane plantation that served as Bernal's personal playground. The farm included a remote sector where all kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles and insects thrived in coexistence with agriculture and cattle.
After receiving his diploma in English as a second language from San José in 1980, Bernal studied at California's Fullerton College, enrolling in the English grammar and history program. Bernal returned to Costa Rica in 1982 and studied at the University of Costa Rica's Law School. Despite a background in sociology, history and law, Bernal moved on to his true passion — working among the ecosystems of Central America. Bernal has been involved in ecotourism since 1988 and has been working with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since 1990.
Bernal is currently administering a small coffee plantation with his family. The coffee is produced under eco-friendly conditions that protect both people and birds. The enterprise has been met with growing interest among eco-tourists curious to learn more of Costa Rica’s sustainable farming culture and economy.
He is married and has three daughters. His eldest daughter shares his passion for nature and graduated as a tropical biologist. She is currently obtaining a master’s degree in environmental sciences at the University of Costa Rica, San José.