In many holiday spots around the world, the conditions are almost always perfect for the physically active, namely for those who do watersports. In locales in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Northern Africa, temperatures change and crowds ebb and flow, and clever travelers are finding that there remain opportunities to get on the water and stay active.
Taking a break, be it a long weekend or mini-holiday, is a smart tactic in countering pressure of going back to work and eliminating stress in general, and watersports are both healthy and fun. Luckily, there are many destinations that boast the weather, the water and the ways to get on wet and enjoy life to its fullest. And the choices abound. Watersports run the gamut from adrenalin-filled to relaxing to romantic. Here are some of the best watersports and where to do them.
Harnessing the power of the wind in a sailboat is perhaps one of our most widespread and popular diversions. Wherever there is water and breeze, you can sail. From small dinghies perfect for children and single sailors to catamaran party boats to graceful monohulls, few sports make you feel the freedom and thrill of vacation. It can be a glitzy affair. It can be physical and challenging. Some prefer the delight and excitement of a regatta, others prefer to sip champagne while a qualified captain does the work. Sunset sails and day sailing are both great ways to escape the land and see your destination from a different vantage point. The experience of sailing gives a new perspective and creates wonderful vacation memories, as the salty air charges your body with high oxygen absorption and balanced serotonin levels, hence a holistic sensation of happiness.
In Montego Bay, Jamaica, 3-hour catamaran cruises take in the spectacular Caribbean sunsets while touring the coast and famous locales like Rick´s Café and Dunn´s River Falls. These tours include experienced crew and often bountiful food and drink, as well as opportunities to snorkel.
The Balearic Islands, particularly Majorca and Ibiza, are well equipped for both the novice weekender and the experienced yachtsmen. With world-class marinas, gorgeous and uncongested anchorages and relatively mild breezes, savvy sailors know that any time of year can be an idyllic time to sail these islands if you know where to look. Want to relax and let a skipper chart the coarse? Several charter outfits offer packages ranging from short evening sails to family outings with snorkeling and meals.
Looking to skate over the surface of the water and feel the sensation of flying through the air, harnessing the warm breezes of the beach? Kite surfing, which involves the rider holding on to a giant kite while gliding on a wakeboard, has grown into an ultra-popular coastal sport for those looking for a physical challenge and the thrill of speed.
Requiring masterful physical balance and equilibrium, kite surfers tone their bodies at the abdomen, arms and hands while also boosting endorphins.
At many kitesurfing coastal hotspots, instructors teach those looking to learn a new sport. The most ideal places for kitesurfing are where the wind is most consistent, like the south of Spain, where it is a common sight to see the seaside air filled with kites. Near Cadis, at Novo Santi Petri and La Barrosa Beach, each season is a wonderful time of year to kitesurf—for the novice to test the waters or for experts to challenge their skills in higher winds.
At the Kite Club in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, instructors show novices and experts how to take advantage of the steady Caribbean trade winds, right off the gorgeous beach. The shallow, flat water proves to be ideal for both learning and showing off.
Avid kitesurfers often take advantage of the perfect, year-round wind conditions in the Brazilian beaches between Porto de Sauipe and Praia do Forte. In Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, the kitesurfer’s prime moment could be any time of year, almost anytime between the stronger winds of summer and the waves of winter. Insiders tip: head to the beaches of Corralejo, and Costa Calma and Sotavento to find conditions that are right for all skill levels.
The low, first hand vantage point of kayaking gets you close to the water without having to be totally submerged. The ideal sport for rivers and lakes, kayaks are also ideal for gliding over the surface of the sea in calm coastal areas. It is also an environmentally friendly way to explore coves and beach areas as your own, pure human power propels you. Your upper body gets quite the work out, burning calories and toning your abdomen. And although balance and equilibrium are essential, kayaking is appropriate for all ages, fitness levels and abilities.
In Crete, the regions of Rethimno and Lasithi enjoy calm, sheltered areas in crystal-clear waters. At Cape Verde’s Boa Vista Island, kayak tours explore the wildlife-rich coast of the islet Sal Rei. But the coasts aren’t the only place to enjoy kayaking. Tours along the Danube River are a wholly unique way to take in the sights of the historical city of Budapest.
On many beaches, you may see colorful parachutes glide across the sky, holding ecstatic, life-jacketed people high above the water. Parasailing has been popular for years, yet another fun watersport that requires no training. A powerful motorboat pulls the riders who are tied to a long tether. As the pilot eases the tension, a parachute fills with air and the rider floats high above the beach and the sea. First timers report that they just want to go up again and again.
On a tranquil coast of the northeast of Brazil, watersports enthusiasts find ample opportunities to fly over the surface of the water. Near Porto Beach, in Praia do Forte, powerboats take advantage of the sea breezes and fly lucky passengers for a bird’s eye view of the Bahian coast.
Scuba diving and snorkeling
Perhaps no other watersport gets you closer to the essence of the sea than scuba diving, allowing close-up experiences with sea life that one simply misses at the surface. The calming effects of the water and the thrilling undersea environment create a sense of calm unique to diving. Health benefits include steady breathing practice and increased overall core strength, as the limbs work against constant water resistance.
In Tenerife, divers encounter high visibility underwater and mild temperatures in both the water and the air. In the warm waters around Cape Verde, particularly in Boa Vista, divers can spot sea turtles, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks and perhaps even a Humpback whale in migration.
Amongst the unique underwater fauna of Cuba´s coast, specifically at Cayo Largo del Sur, divers witness coralline reefs, shipwrecks and sometimes even the huge docile whale sharks.
Photography by Cordon Press