surfboards-beach

There’s nothing quite like throwing caution to the wind and letting your inhibitions drift away. From peering at underwater life to squealed shouts of rebellion as you charge down a rapid, these water sport experiences will blast body, mind and soul.

1. Sailing: The Grenadines

The Grenadines seem boastful. With splendid weather year-round, vodka-clear waters populated by manta rays and sea turtles, as well as some of the most untouched islands in the world, how could they not? But bar Mustique – where you’re not unlikely to spot a royal – they’re a local-feeling archipelago without an airport. This means the only way is to float there on 10-15 knots of wind in the summer months, when you may just have a beach all to yourself.

2. Wind- + Kite-Surfing: Hood River, Oregon

A wetsuit may not be your first choice of attire, but it’s worth it to experience wind and kite-surfing on Hood River. The winds are at their best from April to October, but don’t be fooled by the summer sun – those waters are a meagre 10 degrees Celsius year-round. Still, with the cool air from the Pacific sucked through the Columbia River Gorge, there’s nowhere better to hop on your board and be gone with those strong thermal winds. Recharge in the evenings with an abundance of locally grown food, wine and craft beer in town. Small-town getaway and summer adventure rolled into one? Yes, please.

3. Windsurfing: Tarifa, Spain

As the meeting point of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Tarifa harbours roaring winds. The 10km beach is informally divided into “patches” between the surfers: body, kite and wind. It can be extremely crowded during the summer though, making the experience a tad chaotic. Nevertheless, a patchwork of colourful kites fluttering over the ocean keeps things in perspective. After a day of physical exertion, the old town provides refuge and good food, and a young crowd brings a more laid-back atmosphere than the traditional architecture would suggest. Amid the delicate church and narrow, winding backstreets you will find many equipment-hire shops and souvenirs that seem a lot more Californian than Spanish; this is siesta-meets-surf culture at its best.

4. Snorkelling: Siquijor, Philippines

Imagine swimming through lazuline waters, bursting with sea life, vibrant corals and an underwater landscape not even Baz Luhrmann could dream up. That’s Siquijor. The islet’s natural wonderment is complemented by a dreamy, unassuming atmosphere. A true snorkeller’s paradise, keep in mind that the locals are largely religious and conservative, so secluded beaches are advisable for getting down and dirty with your tanning. Alternatively, resorts and hotels also offer private beaches.

5. Whitewater Rafting: Colorado River, US

It’s known as the quintessential whitewater rafting experience: when the spring sun melts the mountain snowcaps water comes charging down with a force that propels you thrillingly downstream. Get your daily dose of adrenaline coursing swiftly down the Colorado River with trips at varying levels of intensity. Whether you have a penchant for risk-taking or not, this hair-raising adventure is refreshingly invigorating and one you won’t want to miss out on.

6. Scuba Diving: Bali, Indonesia

If variety is the spice of life, then Indonesia is the equivalent of Nando’s Peri-Peri Vusa. While the Red Sea and Great Barrier Reef hold 600 and 1500 species of fish respectively, Indonesia is home to 3000 different species and boasts 20% of the world’s coral reefs. Very spicy indeed. Visit between June and October and you may even spot the rare mola mola fish near Bali or the psychedelic frogfish off Ambon. Dive sites are just as diverse, including steep walls, deep water trenches, WWII wrecks and underwater volcanic mountains.

7. Surfing: Bundoran, Ireland

This town has been a seaside resort since the late 1770s, so the surf schools really have their teaching methods down. If you’re a beginner, there’s no better place to start than Rossnowlagh with its gentle beach break. For those slightly more experienced, the reef break at The Peak is world renowned, while the Tullan Strand has reliably good waves. There’s a real community feel in Bundoran, too, so head down to Madden’s Old Bridge – the unofficial surfer’s bar – to get involved. They serve local craft beer from just 10km down the road and host a variety of music events throughout the week. In a mellow mood? Brennan’s Criterion Bar is an old favourite for slow nights and long conversations.

8. Surfing: Maui, Hawaii

If you’re one for the big waves, you know you’ve hit the jackpot with a surf-spot nicknamed “Jaws Beach”. When conditions are right, you can even catch a ride on the jet skis which tow adventurous surfers into big swells. Not such an adrenaline junkie? Maui’s 120 miles of coastline also offer milder beaches, many furnished with picnic tables and grills for a sunset meal following your pursuits. Take your first lesson at Kaanapali and, with enough dedication and air-miles, you may just be returning to Maui every other summer.

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