Nothing says summer like enjoying authentic experiences in the great outdoors. Over the next few months, we've teamed up with ABC's Good Morning America to deliver our favorite activities and destinations to help ensure you have a spectacular season in the sun. Here's the second of our top ten lists. (See last week's Top Ten Outdoor Adventures >>)
Top Ten Trips with a Splash
1. Whitewater rafting, North Carolina
What to Do: The Nantahala Outdoor Center
(www.noc.com) guides whitewater rafting trips for people of all ages and abilities through the Great Smoky Mountains, based out of an Olympic-training ground.
Where to Stay: Falling Waters Adventure Resort
(www.fallingwatersresort.com) has taken the humble yurt and decked it out.
Ten miles (16 kilometers) to the northeast, mountain bikers ride through the popular Tsali Recreation Area (www.mtbikewnc.com/trailheads/tsali.html).
2. Snorkeling in Oahu, Hawaii
What to Do: Right off the large sandy beach, you'll find a rainbow of fish and reef-dwelling creatures at Hawaii's most popular snorkeling destination, Oahu. This ancient volcanic cinder cone affords a protected environment for new snorkelers to explore.
Hanauma Bay is accessible by public transportation (www.thebus.org). Rent fins and snorkels at the Hanauma Bay Nature Park (www.honolulu.gov/parks/facility/hanaumabay/welcome.htm). You can also organize a guided expedition with an outfitter, such as Hanauma Bay Dive Tours (www.hanaumabay-hawaii.com).
Wild Side Specialty Tours (www.sailhawaii.com/) leads eco-friendly half-day trips on the west side of Oahu that include snorkeling with sea turtles.
Where to Stay: Sleep at the tranquil Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (www.keikibeach.com).
Where to Eat: Refuel with a local classic: the cheeseburger at Kua Aina Sandwich Shop (+1 808 367 6067). Also try the Shave Ice over ice cream and Japanese adzuki beans at Matsumoto's Shave Ice (www.matsumotoshaveice.com).
Information is available at O'ahu Visitors Board (www.visit-oahu.com).
3. Fly-fishing on the Salmon River, Idaho
What to Do: Hook trout in Stanley Basin on Idaho's "River of No Return."
Where to Stay: Try the Mountain Village Resort (www.mountainvillage.com).
Where to Eat: We recommend the Pot Belly Café at Elk Mountain RV Resort (+1 208 774 2202).
Guides and Gear: Sawtooth Fishing Guides
(www.sawtoothfishingguides.com) features guided fly-fishing trips near Stanley, the Salmon River, and Sawtooth Mountains only an hour from Sun Valley, Idaho. Drift-boat float fishing, wade fishing, and mountain-lake fishing are available for every ability. Access to fishing is by boat, car, or foot.
4. Wreck diving off the North Carolina coast
What to Do: Combine warm, clear waters and over 2,000 wrecks and you've got perfect conditions for some of the best wreck diving in the United States. Gulf Stream and Arctic currents combine to create the perilous waters which sailors and divers alike have dubbed the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," the Spar and the Titan are the most recent additions, both sunk in 2004.
Dive to the wreck of the still intact German U-boat 3-52, home to hunting sand tiger sharks, with Olympus Diving (www.olympusdiving.com).
Where to Stay: Enjoy southern hospitality at the Beaufort Inn (www.beaufortinn.com).
Where to Eat: Go to the Channel Marker (+1 252 247 2344) for a cold beer and the morning's catch of triggerfish. For southern comfort food favorites, like the fried green tomato stack, visit Floyd's 1921 (+1 252 727 1921).
5. Sailing in the Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
What to Do: Explore the 21 wilderness islands of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (www.nps.gov/apis) with the help of Lake Superior's brisk breeze.
Sailing Guides: Dreamcatcher Sailing Charters
(www.dreamcatcher-sailing.com) 2.5-hour trips are $55 per person.
Kayaking Guides: Living Adventures Inc. (www.livingadventure.com) offers day-long guided trips for $82 per person.
Where to Eat: Sample the lake fare at Maggie's (www.maggies-bayfield.com), a hangout featuring a fabulously kitschy flamingo-themed décor. At Blue Horizon Café (+1 715 779 9619) early risers can catch their first cup of coffee and a just-baked muffin while enjoying the work of local artists.
Where to Stay: Old Rittenhouse Inn (www.rittenhouseinn.com) is a Victorian mansion with lake views. Eco-friendly elegance can be found at the Pinehurst Inn (www.pinehurstinn.com).
6. Swimming holes around the country
The perfect swimming hole is a marvelous thing. Luckily the U.S. has plenty of cool pools, if you know where to find them. Pancho Doll, America's foremost professional swimming hole sleuth, has canvassed the country to find the best places to cool off on a hot day.
Use Doll's map of the U.S. to find secret swimming holes in California, the Southwest, the Southeast, and the Northeast. Each destination features a map, driving instructions, and travel tips. Find a swimming hole >>
7. Kayaking in the San Juan Islands, Washington
What to Do: The San Juan Archipelago is made up of over 700 islands and reefs, 176 large enough to be named. Hike or paddle around the largest Islands (San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez) while enjoying great vistas and wild life viewing.
San Juan Safaris (www.sanjuansafaris.com) leads orca whale watching, wildlife and kayaking trips. Backroads Outfitter (www.backroads.com) offers six-day multisport vacation packages that include hiking, biking, and kayaking in the San Juan Islands area.
Where to Stay: Roche Harbor Resort and Marina (www.rocheharbor.com/), on the Northwest tip of San Juan Island, is complete with fireplace-warmed suites. You can also relax at Rosario Resort and Spa (rosario.rockresorts.com), on Orcas Island.
Where to Eat: Dine on freshly caught local seafood such as Lopez Island clams at Christina's in Eastsound (www.christinas.net).
San Juan Islands are accessible via the Washington State Ferry Service available at (www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries).
For more information on the San Juan Islands, go to (www.guidetosanjuans.com).
8. Houseboating in Glen Canyon's Lake Powell
What to Do: Explore Glen Canyon's impressive natural formations, including Rainbow Arch, the largest natural bridge on the planet, from your very own houseboat.
Where to Stay: Charter a houseboat from Aramark's Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas (www.lakepowell.com).
Where to Eat: Go to Fiesta Mexicana (+1 928 645 4082) for festive Southwestern fare.
9. Swimming with the manatees, Florida
What to Do: Get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
Guides: Bird's Underwater Manatee Tours, (www.birdsunderwater.com).
Where to Stay: Consider The Blue Moon B&B (thebluemoonbb.com), right on the Homosassa River, or try The Plantation Inn (www.plantationinn.com).
Where to Eat: Sit and watch the monkeys play on Monkey Island at the Riverside Crab House (www.riversideresorts.com/hrrestaurant.html). For waterside seafood in a modern setting, visit Charlie's Fish House Restaurant (+1 352 795 3949).
10. Kite surfing off South Padre Island, Texas
What to Do: Cruise through the Gulf Coast Waters (some of the best in the world for kite surfing) for a high-adrenaline rush!
Guides: South Padre Island Kiteboarding (+1 956 245 8343); Air Padre Kiteboarding (+1 956 299 9463); Windsurf/Kiteboard Inc. (+1 956 761 1434).
Where to Stay: We recommend Bahia Mar Resort (www.bahiamar.com).
Where to Eat: Blackbeard's Restaurant (+1 956 761 4423).
For more information on the South Padre Island contact the Visitor's Guide (www.sopadre.com).
Up Next: Tune into Good Morning America for our Top Ten Adrenaline Adventures on Friday, July 28, 2006.
Pick up the June/July 2006 issue for 50 top adventures in the national parks; how to move to Montana; the best ten-day Brazil vacation; 11 instant weekend escapes; and new watches, cameras, and sunglasses for summer.
Subscribe to Adventure today!
More Great Summer Trip Ideas:
National Parks: The Best of the Great Parks
Two countries. Thirty national parks. Fifty adventures of a lifetime. Between the United States and Canada, it's time to gear up for a summer like no other.
Next Weekend: Summer Strategy
Track mountain lions, paddle deserted islands, and get back home in time for Sunday supper.
Festival Nation: The Adventurous Summer
'Tis the season for microbrew celebrations, barbecue blowouts, and outdoor jams. Get to these adventure outposts when they're at their liveliest.