Summer's nearly here (if you're based in the Southern Hemisphere) and that means hitting the water. If you're not content to float in a pool all day, escape to these thrilling destinations for a revitalising and heart-stopping adventure...
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Waterfall tour – Hawaii
With its carefully handpicked cadre of guides, who boast backgrounds in biology, geology, natural history and Hawaiian culture, eco-tour company Hawaii Forest & Trail is an outfit that prefers to run small, personalised trips that connect people with nature. Here on Hawaii Island, some of the world’s most beautiful cascading waterfalls tumble off black lava cliffs in the midst of lush green tropical rainforest.
This year, the company is offering two special new tours to the Kohala and Hilo Tropical Waterfalls. For Kohala, the fun starts with a ride in an open six-wheeler Pinzgauer off-road vehicle, followed by a trail walk through historic taro terraces and over wooden foot bridges that lead to dramatic views of the Pololu Valley. Once you arrive at the waterfall, you can swim beneath the tumbling water – a very special experience that lingers in the memory. The Hilo Tropical Waterfall tour takes you on an adventure on the windward side of the island through scenic backroads, stopping for lunch on a tropical fruit farm overlooking a series of waterfalls and lush rainforest. Hilo is a stunning 36-metre waterfall surrounded by dripping vegetation where you can swim, kayak or paddleboard beneath the white cascades of water.
Jet-ski & boat safari – Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Though it’s a delightfully indolent, kick-back kind of place, Bora Bora has much to offer those looking for a little adventure in these warm turquoise seas. A full day trip opportunity with Moana Adventure Tours offers a jet-ski safari followed by a shark and stingray boat safari, along with the chance to see the island’s exquisite landscape from the sea. At 727 metres, the dormant volcano of Mount Otemanu dominates a skyline of lush greenery edged by palm-fringed white sands. The jet-ski safari provides adrenaline- fuelled thrills as you cut through the waves at high speed, riding solo or double. The safari is led by a friendly, informative guide
who will show you the best spots for swimming and snorkelling, and regale you with tales of the island’s history, culture and stunning marine life. After lunch, the tour continues with a powerboat cruise around the lagoon in search of blacktip reef sharks and gentle stingrays. Observe them up close from the boat as your guide feeds the sharks or, if you really want to get your blood pumping, jump in the water with them. The final stop takes you to a spectacular underwater garden in the coral reef for a chance to snorkel among a multitude of multi-coloured tropical fish.
Whitewater rafting – New Zealand
For proper adrenaline thrills, few activities can beat the high octane rush of tumbling headlong down a roaring river in a giant rubber dinghy. One of the best whitewater rafting companies in the game is Kaitiaki, based on Lake Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island. The company prides itself on its respectful approach to the environment, and in particular the Maori people of the river tribes Ngati Hinerangi and Ngati Hinekiri (they even asked for their permission to raft commercially on their rivers).
Kaitiaki offers two seriously exhilarating rides, rafting on the Wairoa and Kaituna Rivers. Wairoa is a five-and-a-half hour thrill of a trip on a full-on grade five river (the max), which is only open 26 days a year. A stunning boulder and tree-lined gorge, the Wairoa combines turbulent rapids with exciting stomach-lurching drops to produce some serious whitewater action. The Kaituna River snakes through steep native bush-covered canyons, rushing over 14 hair-raising rapids and three waterfalls, including the famous seven-metre Tutea Falls, the highest rafted waterfall on the planet. No experience necessary – just some serious cojones, a good helmet, a lifejacket and you’re good to go.
Blue Lagoon – Iceland
Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, Iceland’s Blue Lagoon sits in an 800-year-old lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, less than an hour from Reykjavik. Recently designated an UNESCO Geopark, this otherworldly terrain is alive with craters, fissures, mud pools, steam vents, hot springs and moss-covered lava flows. Blue Lagoon’s health-giving geothermal waters are rich in silica, algae and minerals, which have now been patented and incorporated into its very own skincare range. As well as the sublime pleasures of warm geothermal seawater, the lagoon offers a sauna, steam room, waterfall, luxury lounge, cafe, an in-water silica bar and a vast selection of in-water massages and treatments.
In 2007, 20 years after the creation of Blue Lagoon, the Silica Hotel was created. A sanctuary of relaxation and healing, it offers 35 rooms, a private geothermal lagoon, spa facilities, and a clinic for skin treatments. Built into the heart of Blue Lagoon lava field, the hotel offers guests the harmony of modern architecture against the dramatic volcanic landscape. Amid the mud, moss and steam, this is an enchanting place to relax, the naturally heated waters a delicious balm for soothing and rejuvenating mind, body and soul.
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