The Deep End

Water is the best element

Mar 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Green acres: Palau's limestone islands    Photo: PhotoDisc

Captain John McCready's 48-foot Eclipse—outfitted with a compressor, dive tanks, sea kayaks, and rigs for trolling—is your one-stop adventure vessel for exploring this South Pacific archipelago. After picking up the sloop near the capital, Koror, give yourself at least six days to explore Palau's protected lagoon in the Philippine Sea, dive along miles of coral walls, and kayak and hike some of the more than 200 limestone Rock Islands. By the time you reboard each evening, chef Charlie Wang will have your pan-seared wahoo waiting. OUTFITTER: Palau Sea Ventures, 011-680-488-1062, WHEN TO GO: November-June. PRICE: $4,200 for the entire boat (which sleeps four passengers) for six days, including captain, dive master, and cook. DIFFICULTY: easy.

Once a refuge for pirates, Madagascar's rugged northeast coast has been reborn as Parque Masoala, the country's newest and largest national park. For nine days, you'll explore the calm coastal waters by sea kayak, watching for humpback whales, snorkeling the coral reefs, spearfishing for barracuda, combing the shorelines of deserted islands, and sleeping in one of two rustic tented camps. Onshore, scout for lemurs in the rainforest with Malagasy guides. OUTFITTER: Kayak Africa, 011-27-21-783-1955, WHEN TO GO: September-December. PRICE: $1,080. DIFFICULTY: moderate.

A virtually untouched alternative to the Great Barrier Reef, Western Australia's Ningaloo Reef is a 162-mile close-to-shore coral barrier protecting the white-sand beaches and high-plateau shrublands of Cape Range National Park from the Indian Ocean. Mellow two- to four-hour paddling days on this five-day romp up the coast are punctuated by snorkeling in 70- to 80-degree turquoise waters (never deeper than 13 feet), swimming with whale sharks just outside the reef, and hanging at the plush moving camp. OUTFITTER: Capricorn Kayak Tours, 011-618-9-433-3802, WHEN TO GO: April-mid-October. PRICE: $450. DIFFICULTY: moderate.

Steady winds, warm waters, and world-class instructors—essential ingredients for a perfect kitesurfing vacation—exist in plenitude among the numerous tiny islands off Abaco in the Bahamas. During this weeklong clinic, you'll master board-off tricks and 360 jump turns, learn to sail upwind more proficiently, and critique videos of your kite moves over coconut-rum drinks at the seven-cottage Dolphin Beach Resort on Great Guana Cay. OUTFITTER: Kite Surf the Earth, 888-819-5483, WHEN TO GO: mid-January-May. PRICE: $990, including airfare from Fort Lauderdale and all gear. DIFFICULTY: moderate.

More at Outside

Elsewhere on the Web

Not Now

Got Wanderlust?

Escape your daily grind with Outside’s best getaways.

Thank you!