Top Ten Active Beach Vacations - Page 2
5. Taveuni, Fiji
Why Fiji remains the number one travel destination in the South Pacific is not easily explained. The terrain on French Polynesia's Moorea and Bora Bora is far more volcanic and lush, and the countries of Tonga and Vanuatu are more budget-oriented. Travelers come to Fiji for that genuine encounter with the people. Their hospitality comes from a place of pride, not their bank accounts. This is certainly true of Taveuni, nicknamed The Garden Isle, where the locals have good reason to brag about its rainbow-colored reefs and almost unparalleled scuba diving. The white and reddish-pink coral provides a dramatic backdrop for the dazzling array of sea life—turtles, barracudas, moray eels, grey sharks, colorful butterflyfish, and clown fish.
Hike up to Lake Tangimauthia, a volcanic lake hidden within the island's mountainous interior. Northwest of Taveuni, Matangi is one of the many small Fijian islands with a limited amount of bures (thatched huts), perfect for couples or anyone searching for a tranquil spot where the hum of automobiles and televisions is replaced by the soft sounds of waves tumbling ashore. If you want the popular 12th bure, a treehouse 30 feet high in the air, you'll have to make reservations well in advance.
Taveuni Vacation Guide
4. Quepos, Costa Rica
Home to Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos is the gateway to Pacific Coast pleasure. With its mix of rainforest and beach, one can spend a week here ziplining atop 300-year-old wild cashew trees and waterfalls, hiking along the coast accompanied by monkeys and sloths, cruising down a tumultuous river in a raft, sea kayaking from deserted beach to deserted beach, and deep-sea fishing to hook yellowfin tuna, or even a marlin. Stay at the spanking new Arenas del Mar resort, owned by the same folks who built the eco-friendly favorite, Finca Rosa Blanca, outside of San Jose. Or go inland to Rafiki Safari Lodge. Nestled deep in the verdant mountainside, the South African-born owners have a created an upscale safari-style lodge like the ones found around Kruger National Park. One, that is, with a killer water slide.
Costa Rica Beach Vacation Guide
3. Big Sur, California
Highway One is the road that appears most often in car ads, where the convertible hugs wide turns as cliffs plunge to the Pacific below. But the best part of Big Sur entails getting out of your car and seeing this spectacular scenery up close. First stop is the quarter-mile walk at Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which leads to the precipitous rock, waterfalls, and wildflowers of this rugged paradise. They will whet your appetite for backpacking on more than 200 miles of trails, including the easily accessible Pine Ridge Trail at Big Sur Station, a quarter-mile past the entrance to Pfeiffer-Big Sur State Park. Nearby, the exquisite Pfeiffer Beach is the place to be at sunset. Horseback riders should head to Andrew Molera State Park for coastal riding. In 2005, John and Corrine Hardy fulfilled their 20-year dream to build 16 yurts on the coast halfway between Hearst Castle and Big Sur. Unlike the yurts found in Mongolia, these circular tent structures don't have dirt floors. Indeed, the amenities at Treebones Resort include polished pine floors, French doors, colorful quilts, and dome roofs that let the sunlight in by day, stars at night.
Big Sur Vacation Guide
2. Bali, Indonesia
Upon arriving in Lovina, on the north coast of Bali, you will be asked by young men, "Do you want to see the dolphins?" By all means, say yes. The following morning at 6 a.m., a longtail boat glides to a small cove where some 20 to 30 dolphins jump in and out of the ocean water as the sun rises above the mountainous backdrop. Then the skipper cruises over to a coral reef where you can snorkel for several hours among an incredible array of fluorescent blue, yellow, and green angelfish, purple starfish, and an occasional moray eel. For the scuba diver, snorkeling will whet your appetite for the manta rays, lionfish, and reef sharks off Menjangan Island, Bali's best diving spot. Hikers will want to head southeast of Lovina to Penelokan, which means place to look, an appropriate name for the breathtaking view of the volcano, Gunung Batur, and the cerulean body of water at the bottom of its crater, Lake Batur. Rising over 5,600 feet, this mighty volcano last erupted in 1917, eradicating an entire village. Even more magical than Gunung Batur is Besakih, located an hour south of Penelokan. This is the Mother Temple of Bali, the largest, oldest, and most impressive of all the island's Hindu shrines. First constructed over 1,000 years ago, today it houses over 30 temples, at least one for every district of Bali. Stay at one of the eight upscale beachfront bungalows at the very Zen-like Damai Lovina Villas and you'll quickly understand what I mean about not wanting to take that flight back home.
Bali Vacation Guide
1. Cape Town, South Africa
You can have San Fran and Sydney. My choice for most tantalizing city in the world goes to Cape Town. Backed by Table Mountain, where the frigid waters of the Atlantic meet the almost Jacuzzi-like waters of the Indian Ocean, Cape Town offers a plethora of activity. To get a good overview of the city, climb to the 3,562-foot shelf atop Table Mountain via the popular Platteklip Gorge route, then take the cable car back down. Bikers pedal on the spectacular Chapman's Peak Drive around Hout's Bay, beachcombers take long walks on Clifton Beach, mountain bikers head to Cape Point (popular also with baboons), surfers head to Kalk Bay, and sea kayakers can pick almost any cove they want along the coast. Then, of course, there's safari. Cape Town's closest private game reserve, Aquila, features giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and ostriches. Stay downtown in the heart of De Waterkant district at the relatively new 15-room b&b, The Village Lodge.
South Africa Beach Vacation Guide