We've just updated our popular America's
Best Adventures feature with 50 new trips, bringing our grand total to 100 iconic escapes (see the map, state-by-state list, and photo gallery, too). So no matter what your pleasure—hiking,
heli-skiing, surfing, climbing, biking, or paddling—we've got the perfect adventure
for you. Check in each day for a new, out-the-backdoor adventure highlighted here on our blog.
By Kate Siber; Photograph by David McNew, Getty Images
Most of the time, when humans mess with nature,
they lose. But at the Wedge, a monstrously big and powerful break off
Newport Beach, California, they hit the jackpot—for bodysurfers, that
is. There, an Army Corps of Engineers jetty relays big swells, forming
slow-moving, pyramid-shaped waves that, during South Pacific storm
cycles, can top 30 feet (9 meters). They’re too steep for surfers but
perfect for the ultimate man-versus-nature contest: bodysurfing.
the surf goes off, as many as 15 locals brave the indiscriminate spin
cycle in hopes of catching a wave’s sweet spot. “The absolute most
difficult part of it all is the moment you decide to go,” says Fred
Simpson, owner of Viper Surfing Fins and a Wedge veteran. After that,
there’s a purgatory of about five seconds, when even the best
bodysurfers won’t know whether the wave, like an unbroken mustang, will
let them mount or pitch them forward with the force of the South
Pacific hurricane that birthed it. If they succeed, the reward is the
ultimate rush: a perfect 50-yard (45-meter) glide through water moving
as fast as that from a fire hose.
days, only the bravest—and most practiced—take to the water, but as
many as a thousand spectators come to watch and feel the reverberating
rumble of the waves from a 15-foot (5-meter) sand berm that makes a
natural stadium. The waves break so close to shore, they offer an
opportunity rare in the world of bodysurfing: An onlooker can see the
open-mouth, wide-eyed, absolutely-in-the-moment expression on a
bodysurfer’s face as he or she takes on Mother Nature.
Need to Know:
Locals say that if someone has to explain how to bodysurf the Wedge,
you shouldn’t be there. Thus, there are no lessons available, and
newcomers must bring fins and demonstrate their skills for the beach’s
gantlet of lifeguards. Practice on nearby beaches and low-surf days.
- Nat Geo Expeditions