Shark diving in Walker’s Cay, Bahamas
Get up close and personal with the shark community at Green Marine Shark Education Programs. Clad with weights, tanks and a regulator (but no protective gear), you’ll roam the turquoise depths of the Caribbean with as many as 100 sharks (Caribbean reef, blacktip, bull, nurse and lemon) three times a day. Frolicking with fish and taking assorted fin-friendly workshops will keep you busy, but you’ll still have time to hit the beach and enjoy some spicy conch chowder. Who: Green Marine, 305-275-0030. When: Year-round. How much: 4 days, $716 (including airfare from Fort Lauderdale); plus an additional $225 if you want to get certified first. Travel advisory: Don’t wave your arms around too much in the water unless you want the sharks to mistake you for a squid.
Scuba diving in Thailand and Burma
Explore Asia’s mysteries above ground and underwater. You’ll live aboard a swank wooden vessel while sailing across the clear Andaman Sea. Explore subterranean coral gardens, swim alongside octopuses, huge lobsters, fluttering manta rays and a plethora of exotic fish. Nights are spent sipping cocktails at sunset while deckhands care for gear and attend to amenities. Who: Asia Transpacific Journeys, 800-642-2742. When: Year-round. How much: $3,995 for 12 days. Travel advisory: Not a trip for novice divers. Get your certification and plenty of experience before you go.
Kitesurfing in Maui, Hawaii
Picture gliding across a giant wave on a small surfboard, launching 20 feet in the air, flipping around, skillfully landing back in the water-and then doing it again. That’s kitesurfing, the latest craze to hit the Hawaiian pipeline. It’s a cross between wakeboarding and paragliding, and it’s ripping good fun. Top kitesurfers perform outrageous aerial ballet, but even novices will quickly learn to catch some air. To unleash your kitesurfing potential, spend a few weeks at the beach; you’ll get to perfect your tan along with your moves. Who: Action Sports Maul 808-871-5857. When: Year-round. How much: 5-day group course, $975; additional coaching, $100 an hour. Travel advisory: Bring along a copy of the Hawaiian Dictionary by Mary Kawena Pukui and Samuel H. Elbert to help you fraternize with the locals.
White-water kayaking in North Carolina
Learn strokes and how to scout and roll during a paddling-intensive long weekend. Novice through advanced kayakers can partake of these group outings offered by Nantahala Outdoor Center. Days are spent on the water, first on a lake to fine-tune (or learn) paddling strokes, boat balance and rolling skills. Then you head to the river’s Class I and II rapids to practice your skills, learn to peel-out, ferry and read the water. Back on land, evenings are devoted to watching and reviewing videos of your group paddling efforts. Who: Nantahala Outdoor Center, 888-662-1662, ext. 600. When: Year-round. How much: 4 days, $720. Travel advisory: Bring nose clips to keep you from inhaling too much river if you roll. (more…)