| Week of October 31-November 6, 1996
Pampered honeymoon seclusion
Backcountry fun in the Canadian Rockies
Thanksgiving on Maui with teenagers
Moderate hiking trips in January
Mexico: Too many options to count
Pampered honeymoon seclusion
Question: My blushing fiancee and I are getting married in the Adirondacks in mid-July. Understanding that preparing for such an event takes much responsibility, she has left me with only one task--the honeymoon. We enjoy hiking, mountain biking, scuba, camping, etc. We have no real constraints other than to make it memorable. If you could suggest a few really special, approximately two-week trips, I promise to save you a piece of cake. Thank you.
But first, a disclaimer (to ease my mind): These are not fully planned, instant honeymoons-in-a-bottle, but merely recommendations to point you in the right direction. If these ideas sound good to you, you'll need to take the next step, do additional research, break into a cold sweat every now and then, toss and turn at night, and in general do just as much frantic worrying as your bride. It's only fair, and you'll walk away with a pretty dang special honeymoon in the process. That said, here they are:
For total solitude, where the most strenuous activity of the day may well be hoisting a room service flag to order another round of piña coladas, consider spending a week at the ultra-plush Petit St. Vincent resort, a 22-cottage spread and the only thing on the small, 113-acre privately owned island sandwiched between St. Vincent and Grenada in the Grenadines. The whole point to this place is pure, self-indulgent seclusion. Hole up in either a beachfront or hillside cottage, complete with private deck (hammock and chaise lounges included), large bedroom, living room, wood-shuttered windows, and plenty of comfy wicker furniture. You're guaranteed to see no one but a room service waiter and a cottage housekeeper. What better way to recoup from months of frenzied pre-wedding preparation and excitable in-laws than practically dropping off the face of the earth? Or, heck, do the Caribbean thing and meander down to strips of well-appointed, gray-sand beach (with covered hammock, table, and chaise, and beach-service flagpole at each station).
If you're feeling energized (save the snoozing for your afternoon siesta), venture out to the resort's tennis court, 20-station fitness trail, or water sports center, where you can have your pick of Sunfishes, Hobie Cats, windsurfing equipment, and snorkeling gear. Or make a day of it and charter a water-skiing or deep-sea fishing boat. For dining, eat gourmet meals in the privacy of your own cottage (just raise the flag and someone will come find out what you need), or opt for the more social route: The restaurant and patio bar in the main building have spectacular Caribbean views and a handful of garden tables.
The only drawback? Expect to spend a hefty $470 per double per night. This includes all meals and activities, but alcoholic beverages are extra. If you go, congratulate yourself on your savviness: This is low-season in the Caribbean, after all, so you're probably saving yourself a huge chunk of cash. (Hey, whatever works!)
By the time you've R&R'ed yourselves to death on Petit St. Vincent, you'll probably be bucking to get out and stretch your legs. Why not follow up with a week of chartered sailing among the neighboring islands in the West Indies or, farther afield, in the British Virgin Islands. Long stretches of open water; strong, northeast trade winds; and 30-some-odd palm-covered islands make the Grenadines an exciting if sometimes challenging cruising area. Massachusetts-based Swift Yacht Charters offers crewed 40- to 110-foot boats, with captain and cook, for $2,200-$6,400 per week (off-season may be slightly lower). Departures are from St. Vincent; call 800-866-8340 for details.
For a more standard introduction to Caribbean cruising, head north from St. Vincent to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, where there are plenty of sheltered moorings, great dive sites, and a whole slew of white-sand beaches. Sun Yacht Charters (800-772-3500) and The Moorings (800-5350-7289) can set you up with a week-long crewed charter starting at about $2,800. For additional Caribbean details, check out The Caribbean 20 in Outside's Winter 1996-97 Travel Guide.
On a completely different note, my second suggestion is to spend a week mountain biking and learning to whitewater kayak at the Otter Bar Lodge in Forks of Salmon, California. Smack in the middle of the Klamath National Forest, between the Trinity Alps and the snow-covered Marble Mountains, this northern California multisport lodge is no less isolated than Petit St. Vincent (two and a half hours from the nearest town), just a tad more active. The week-long paddling package starts neophyte kayakers on Otter Bar Pond and then tests their skills on the Presidio run of the Klamath River, under the tutelage of expert instructors. You know you're a full-fledged whitewater paddler when you successfully run Kissing Rock, a Class III rapid also on the Presidio.
The mountain bike package is open to beginning riders all the way up to expert-class types. You'll spend mornings pedaling miles of remote ridge-line forest roads and singletrack, and afternoons snorkeling, swimming, and rafting the nearby Salmon River.
If you want to combine both packages, you'll start out the week learning whitewater basics and finish up with the mountain biking. The bottom line is that the folks at Otter Bar are willing to work with you to create a week's vacation that suits you best. Accommodations are in either the ranch-style main house or separate cabins, all with their own bath, big windows, and access to a communal deck with hot tub and sauna. And contrary to lodge stereotypes, these rooms are definitely not rustic: skylights, wood floors, and antique furniture make for tasteful, post-ride R&R. Kayak packages start at $1,290 per person, including all meals and classes, and mountain bike weeks go for $1,200. Call 916-462-4772 for details.
As for your second week, I'd consider spending it pedaling through Napa Valley's vineyards, with stops at mud baths and plush, pamper-me spas like the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa along the way. For ideas on guided trips in the area, call the bicycle experts at Backroads at 800-462-2848.