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When you think of Texas, funky beach towns probably aren’t the first things that come to mind; it’s more likely that you’ll think of cowboys and barbecue. But with 300 miles of coastline, “Texas” and “beach” are a great match (and Texas has a quite a few beach surprises up its sleeve). Galveston, which is actually an island, has an offbeat, oceanside vibe, making it the perfect place to change the way you think about southern beach towns. And when it comes to exploring the island, you can see the best of it without spending a fortune.
From a pier with a Ferris wheel, to incredible gumbo, an awesome Mardi Gras scene, and a beachfront strip with enough unusual bars and restaurants to quench anyone’s thirst, the town has a lot to offer. It’s also full of gorgeous Victorian architecture that was meticulously preserved after the devastating Great Storm of 1900, and there are enough museums and history tours to keep any culture buff busy for weeks. Plus, with summer humidity on its way out, it’s easier than ever to save money and enjoy all the eccentricity that makes Galveston feel worlds away from the nearest mainland super-city, Houston. Here are my top choices for getting to know the culture of Galveston, for less. Read more
If you’re looking for a new activity this summer, skip the beach and head to New York City for Outdoor Rise, a week of classes, adventures, and inspirational films all dedicated to the beauty of the outdoors. Brought to you by Discover Outdoors, Outdoor Rise is weeklong program that encourages you to live a healthy life by exploring and interacting with your environment. From June 17–23, choose from a list of events and start your summer of fun. All events are free to the public and dispersed throughout the five boroughs. Read more
You’ve likely heard all about New Zealand’s wondrous Middle-earth-worthy landscapes, but its offshore seascapes don’t skimp out on the wow factor either. With pristine conditions that provide haven for a thriving marine wildlife, offshore New Zealand offers optimum terrain for coastal adventuring like whale watching, sea kayaking, and diving. Freshly back from getting my own fins wet, I’m here with three top picks for the ultimate coastal Kiwi escapes. Read more
Grab the binoculars and Dramamine: Whale-watching season is gearing up, especially on the West Coast, as the gentle giants slowly migrate from colder northern waters down south for the winter. Here, some recommendations for the best whale-watching tours and spots in North America, plus a newly announced camping and kayaking trip in Argentina that lets you paddle right up to the orcas.
First, a quick heads-up: While it should be an M.O. for any type of travel, there are no guarantees when it comes to whale-watching. Nature can flare up with some nasty waves, wind and fog. You might see nary a tail fin, and you might get seasick as a dog. But those unknowns make sightings even more enjoyable. Up your chances of a good experience by eating a carb-rich breakfast and packing anti-seasickness meds, plenty of layers, rainy-weather gear and a positive attitude.
If you think adventure travel is just for the younger set, think again: A growing segment of senior travelers are looking to amp up their next trip with some adrenaline and adventure. And increasingly, tour operators are targeting this valuable demographic.
Case in point: Consider the incredible “Your Age is Your Discount” offered by Cayuga Sustainable Hospitality Resorts for six eco-luxe properties in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Back by popular demand, the promo works like this: The age of the oldest traveler in the room equals the percentage discount off the total hotel room rate.
On July 26 – give or take a day or two, depending on weather conditions – about a dozen two-person teams will take the helms of small wooden boats called punts and row 10 miles across open ocean off Newfoundland, Canada. The race – officially called the Great Fogo Island Punt Race To There and Back – represents three centuries of tradition on the quaint, rugged islands of Newfoundland, as well as bragging rights for the hardy souls who undertake the endeavor.
The race itself is only open to residents of Fogo and/or Change islands, just off the main island of Newfoundland, but it’s a thrill to watch. And just as exciting is the abundance of opportunities for any traveler with adventure on the agenda – not to mention the fact that the region remains deliciously undiscovered by mass tourism.
Here’s a quick roundup of adventure options around Fogo Island and Central Newfoundland, which are ideal to visit in late summer through fall. For more information, check out the superb adventure guide put out by Adventure Central at www.adventurecentralnewfoundland.com.
For a brief few months each year, warm weather, long days, and generous vacation time conspire to open up a world of travel possibilities. From climbing the top of remote mountains to exploring breathtaking river gorges to biking quiet back-country roads, Smart Luxury Travel has selected 10 spectacular outdoor adventures. And to make sure there’s a trip to suit every taste, we’ve included a splurge option (for those who absolutely must have the most exotic and/or pampered voyage) as well as a great value (for those who don’t mind roughing it). Read on to discover our top picks – think kayaking through arctic waters, horseback riding in the Rockies, and catching waves in Costa Rica.
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Forget about spa days or breakfast in bed. Today’s moms are adventurous, bold, and sexy. So this Mother’s Day, we’ve unearthed packages that will have moms throwing axes, rappelling off cliffs, sitting for their own portrait painting, and going to a Rock n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. Celebrate with mom by taking her on one of these thrilling escapades that will make her feel great, embrace life, and celebrate the ways she inspires her family every day.
Ax Throwing, Hauling Lobster, Riding Harleys: The New England Inns & Resorts Association offers over 20 action-packed “bucket list” packages, from zip-lining in Vermont to rock climbing in New Hampshire. There are also activities like hauling lobster in Maine and ax-throwing in New Hampshire – for moms who want to channel their inner lumberjack (or jill). The full selection gives moms plenty of new ways to explore New England. Overnight rates start at $139; Mother’s Day weekend overnight rates from $152.
For years, National Geographic has inspired readers of its popular glossy magazine to journey to exotic lands, with its stunning images and first-rate travel experts. Now, in a move that’s a natural extension of its work over the years, Nat Geo has finally joined the ranks of adventure travel outfitters.
The Society has recently announced its aptly named National Geographic Adventures, which are sure to spike the adrenaline of any adventure traveler. They feature 11 unique itineraries that will combine cultural and physical activity among some of the most incredible landscapes on the planet, from hiking in Patagonia (photo above courtesy of Flickr/Rick McCharles) to horseback riding across Mongolia to kayaking into Alaska’s sea wilderness with bears, whales, and otters.
Each itinerary has been crafted with the input of an esteemed Nat Geo expert, ensuring an experience as rich in history and culture as it is in adventure. Trips are designated with an activity level rating from easy to strenuous, with an “ultimate challenge” option available. Guests will stay in accommodations ranging from quaint mountain lodges and inns to luxury tents; the maximum group size is just 16 to ensure an optimum experience. Read more
Always dreamed of being a travel writer? Here’s your chance to get a jump-start in the coveted and competitive industry, with a 22-day adventure/assignment in Turkey, mentoring from a pro and your foot in the door with a well-known travel guide as the grand prize for a travel writing scholarship.
What you’ll have to do: Submit a 500-word essay (roughly the length of most posts you see on this blog), plus another 200 words on why you should be the winner. In addition, you’ll need a passport with at least six months’ validity, to be at least 18 years old (by June 7) and be available to travel from June 7-28, 2011. You also should have strong writing skills in English. Finally, entrants cannot be travel or professional writers (*&^! And I already had some great ideas in mind for my essay!).
The scholarship is sponsored by travel insurance provider and expert World Nomads, based in Australia, as well as adventure outfitter BikeHike Adventures and travel guidebook Rough Guides. The experience kicks off with BikeHike’s Turkish Delight tour, whose 12-day itinerary is an unforgettable trip in itself. Highlights include exploring the enchanting landscape of Cappadocia (its fairytale-esque mountains are in the photo above) by foot, mountain bike and horseback, sea kayaking on the Mediterranean and discovering the cultural gems of Istanbul. Read more
While it might seem that the most prevalent adventure travel trend nowadays is wrestling your backpack into increasingly rare overhead bin space, there are plenty more appealing developments on the horizon. Here, a few trends of note for adventure travelers in 2011 and beyond.
Authentic experiences. “Experiential” travel is the buzzword that tour operators and outfitters are currently using to describe what true adventurers have been doing for decades: experiencing a destination like a local. The bad news about this trend: There are unprecedented numbers of travelers doing it (upping the chances that you’ll meet a fellow countryman, say, on a remote outback trail, which tends to be a bit disappointing when you’re after something truly unique). The good news: Operators and outfitters are developing trips based on authentic experiences, whether that means trekking with tribal nomads in the Sahara or learning to cook spaghetti Bolognese with a local chef in Bologna.
In June, futbol fans from all over the world will flood South Africa for the 2010 World Cup. No doubt that many visitors will incorporate a safari – an item on many an adventure junkie’s wish list – into their soccer-centric trip. Our advice? Kick off your own South African adventure now. You’ll score some great deals at newly built and nearly vacant hotels before the crowds pile in, and restaurants and attractions will be equally welcoming of ahead-of-the-rush guests. And if you’re not game for a safari, there there are plent of other endorphin-heavy options:
This outdoor-pursuits mecca offers adrenaline opportunities that can quicken the pulse of even the most calloused traveler. The seriously brave should consider a nail-biting dive among great white sharks (don’t worry; you’re in a cage) with Apex Shark Expeditions, which has worked with the likes of Discovery Channel, Planet Earth and National Geographic. Spotting a shark is also possible during a sea kayaking tour, though you’re probably more likely to see penguins. Overcome a fear of heights by rappelling down Table Mountain, a prominent landmark where you’ll work your way back down from 3,000 feet above sea level (Table Mountain has oodles of hiking options, too.). Visit our Cape Town Travel Guide for more trip-planning resources.
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