Number of drownings in Hawaii in 2005. From Michael C. Perkins's new book, Surviving Paradise, which offers sage, and sometimes obvious, advice on riptides, jellyfish, and shore breaks, and a stern rebuke of the "most disturbing tourist behavior observed ... attacking molten lava."
Azul Blue, Tulum, Mexico
OUT OF THE RUINS: Poolside at Azul Blue
Opened in November, the redundantly named Azul Blue, in Tulum, Mexico, comes with some ordinary luxe accoutrements—world-class chefs, butlers, a tricked-out spa—and some extraordinary: Maya ruins out the back door and primo diving out the front. Doubles from $720;
Patagonia's new DirtBag Grant, open to anyone, offers two $3,000 awards for the best eco-conscious adventures that "do more with less." Applications due May 1. patagonia.com
Things That Go Bump in the Night
Having apparently forgotten the outcome of Luxury Mega-Liner v. Iceberg, Princess Cruises launches the 109,000-ton, 2,600-passenger Golden Princess in January on a three-day tour of the Antarctic coast. While not the only cruise ship to sail to the frozen continent, the Princess almost doubles the size of its largest predecessors and dwarfs the region's classic tour boats, which tend to be refurbished ice-breakers. Although passengers won't disembark (scientists don't sell puka-shell necklaces), we're still queasy about "a veritable floating city" off the Antarctic coast. (Since 1992, the number of annual visitors has risen from about 6,000 to more than 28,000.)
For our money, we'll go with Geographic Expeditions' 48-passenger Shokalskiy (12-day Antarctic Peninsula tour, including land excursions, November to March, from $3,400; geoex.com) and hope, for the cruisers, The Love Boat doesn't become Survivor: Elephant Island.
Since it takes two bikes—one mountain, one road—to cross the Andes, go guided. ATAC Patagonia's ten-day, 250-plus-mile, truck- and hotel/cabin-supported tour from Pucón, Chile, to Bariloche, Argentina, also includes hikes through Huerquehue National Park and up Villarrica volcano, plus a steamy soak in the Termas Geométricas. Through March; about $2,700; atacpatagonia.com