The High Road


Feb 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

Paradise on the Rocks: Palau's moss-covered isles    Photo: PhotoDisc

French Polynesia
Surfing the Tuamotus
Price: $2,300—$4,717
Difficulty: Moderate
This is the ultimate surf safari in one of the world's last great undiscovered wave frontiers—the mostly uninhabited, low-lying 78-island Tuamotu Archipelago, 200 miles northeast of Tahiti. Spend seven to 11 days riding clean, hollow three- to ten-foot barrels as you shuttle from one heartbreakingly flawless break to another aboard the 64-foot Cascade, a five-cabin power cruiser equipped with surf-forecasting technology. When surf's down, fish for abundant black marlin and reef fish, kitesurf, sea-kayak, snorkel the jewel-like lagoons, and scuba-dive the deep "shark alley" passes, where hundreds of reef sharks ride the currents at feeding time. Evenings are reserved for surf videos, surf magazines, Hinano beer, and fresh sashimi and sushi.
High Point: You and your nine surf brahs will have these waves all to yourselves.
Low Point: If you hit it right, the waves can be so consistent you may actually start to get bored. Snap out of it!
Travel Advisory: No need to bring your own surfboard; the Cascade travels with a diverse quiver of more than 60 boards.
Outfitter: Wavehunters Surf Travel, 888-899-8823,
When to Go: Year-round

Training Ride
Price: $1,310
Difficulty: Strenuous
Join a peloton of serious cyclists for this tough ten-day, 780-mile loop from Hobart that hits both the east and west coasts of the rugged, cycling-mad Australian state of Tasmania. Be prepared for staggering scenery—desolate white beaches braced by sheer cliffs, emerald rolling farmland—and punishing ascents with names like Bust-Me-Gall and Break-Me-Neck. The final day includes a grind to the summit of 4,166-foot Mount Wellington—followed by a 13-mile cruise back to Hobart. On the lone day of rest, you'll undergo flexibility, strength, and aerobic testing, administered by the Tasmanian Institute of Sport. If this sounds hardcore, take heart: Three sag wagons and two masseurs accompany the trip.
Outfitter: Island Cycle Tours, 011-61-36234-4951,
When to Go: March

Snorkeling Yap, Ulithi, and Palau
Price: $3,890 (airfare from Honolulu included)
Difficulty: Moderate
Twelve days of shallow-water bliss begin on the island of Yap, where you'll see tide-driven manta rays passing beneath you in the channels. A short flight north takes you to rarely dived Ulithi, a former U.S. military base opened to tourism within the past few years, where a huge population of giant turtles can darken the water and coral walls plunge just 400 feet from shore. The final five days are spent among the green, tuffetlike isles of Palau, famous for landlocked saltwater Jellyfish Lake, where you'll snorkel among thick, drifting clouds of harmless, if somewhat spooky, pale-pink Mastigias jellyfish.
Outfitter: Oceanic Society, 800-326-7491,
When to Go: April, June

Solomon Islands
Sea-Kayaking Journey
Price: $3,790
Difficulty: Moderate
Spend 18 days exploring the remote string of jungly, Eden-like islands of the nation's Western Province. You'll paddle translucent blue lagoons and cool, dark, vine-strung rivers, hike high volcanic ridges, snorkel a shallow-water WWII plane wreck, and discover shrines built partially of skulls—remnants of the headhunters who lived on these Ring of Fire islands about a century ago. Transfers between islands are by motorized canoes piloted by native guides; most nights are spent camping on empty sand beaches.
Outfitter: Mountain Travel Sobek, 888-687-6235,
When to Go: November to December