Adventurous Options In Turks And Caicos

nautique sports While many people think of Turks and Caicos as being a relaxing beach getaway, the islands have a lot more to offer than just that. In fact, adventure enthusiasts will feel right at home with an array of daring options in a beautiful setting.

Barefoot Waterskiing

Forget skis and boards; barefoot waterskiing lets you feel completely free during your adventure. Because the coral reef system runs the length of the north shore beach, the water remains calm and creates the perfect conditions for the sport. Also known as “barefooting,” you’ll get the chance to zoom over the water at 40 mph.Eco-Kayaking

In the Turks and Caicos Islands, kayaking is an excellent way to explore the unique flora and fauna of the area. As you paddle through lush mangroves, keep your eyes peeled for Lemon Sharks, Pufferfish, Snappers and Bonefish in the sea, and Herons, Oystercatchers and Brown Pelicans overhead. Feeling adventurous? Pre-dawn bird watching and secluded island camping can be added to a multi-day kayaking itinerary.

Kiteboarding

Kiteboarding, a combination of windsurfing and snowboarding, is a unique adventure that is rapidly growing in popularity. The Turks and Caicos Islands are a great destination for kiteboarding, as the area features warm waters and cool winds that help to propel boarders at quick speeds.

Because kiteboarding poses inherent risks, it is wise to get acquainted with the sport through a professional tourism company. Big Blue Unlimited‘s Kite Safari is a three- to four-hour action packed adventure for anyone who wants to get their adrenaline pumping.

Scuba Diving

The Turks and Caicos Islands boast the world’s third largest barrier reef with some amazing sheer drop walls. Divers will be able to spot rays, turtles, sharks, exotic shoals of fish, beautiful coral and sometimes Humpback whales and dolphins. While the islands host a multitude of diving companies, it is best to choose one that offers small diving groups so you can get the most out of the experience as well as minimize your effect on the local eco-system.

Snorkeling

For those interested in exploring marine life who are not interested in scuba diving, snorkeling is a great option. You’ll be able to spot tropical fish without the burden of gear or needing to take a diving course.

Stand Up Paddleboarding

While the Hawaiian’s have used paddleboards for years, it wasn’t until recently that Big Blue Unlimited brought them to the Turks and Caicos Islands. Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) allows you to view what’s over as well as what’s under the water while also getting a great workout.

Horseback Riding

While many destinations offer the chance to go horseback riding, not many allow you to do it quite like this. With Provo Ponies, you’ll get the chance to trot through clear ocean water while enjoying four miles of private, white sand beach.

Sailing

Because the Turks and Caicos Islands are surrounded by water, sailing is a popular adventure option in the area. Instead of simply boarding a boat as a passenger, why not learn how to sail the boat yourself? Or choose a tour that combines sailing with other adventures such as diving, snorkeling or hiking.

Biking

While many of Turks and Caicos adventure options put thrill-seekers in the water, biking makes for an exciting land excursion. Because the islands offer both rugged terrain and flat land, the adventure is great for people of all abilities.

Queen Conch Salad

Along with daring activities, there’s adventurous food as well. Head over to the Grace Bay Beach Club and order the Conch Salad, which features fresh ingredients from the local waters. Want to go diving for your own lunch? You can, as the Turks and Caicos Islands are home to the world’s only Conch Farm.

Drink Like a Pirate

According to the legend, Pirate Calico Jack Rackham used the Turks and Caicos Islands to hide from authorities, and he may have left some of his rum behind. If you head to the Regent Palms‘ Green Flamingo Bar they will prepare you a rum punch cocktail with a kick. Bambarra Rum, which is locally produced, is named after a shipwreck that freed captive African slaves on Bambarra Beach.

To get a better idea of these adventurous options, check out the gallery below.

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Racing the wind on a frozen Michigan lake

Racing across a frozen Michigan lakeA frozen lake on Michigan‘s Upper Peninsula seems an unlikely place to hold a world championship event – particularly in February. Yet that is exactly where I found myself this past weekend as I watched more than 40 competitors from around the globe zip to and fro across the ice propelled by nothing more than the wind.

I made the trip to St. Ignace, a small town located on the banks of Lake Huron, to attend the annual World Ice and Snow Sailing Association (WISSA) Championship. The weeklong event pits competitors against one another in a variety of wind-powered races that mix grace, skill, and speed in equal measures.

The field of competitors came from across the planet just to take part in the event. The U.S., Canada, Finland, and Russia were all very well represented, as were numerous other countries including Cuba. The lone entrant from that nation acquitted himself quite nicely, finishing tenth in his division despite the fact that his homeland hasn’t seen ice or snow in quite some time. The male and female racers ranged in age from as young as 17 to well into their 50s, although they all shared a youthful exuberance and love for their sport.

The WISSA Championship features three divisions based on the type of apparatus that the racers use to capture the wind. Some competitors prefer the quick and agile wing, which resembles a small hang glider and is usually paired with a set of ice skates or skis to propel them across the ice. Raising the wing above their heads and turning it to catch the wind, they are able to generate quite a bit of speed, while still remaining very nimble. Steering is accomplished by constantly adjusting the glider in subtle ways to meet the changing breezes.The second division pits competitors against one another on sailboards that are not unlike something you’d find on water that hasn’t entered a solid state. Many of the entrants in this category have built their own sleds, merging a snow or wake board with a specially designed sail that is capable of harnessing the wind to generate impressive speeds. Sailboards are not nearly as nimble as the wings but they are still a lot of fun to ride and are probably the easiest of the three types of WISSA vehicles to learn how to control.

Racing across a frozen Michigan lakeThe third and final category actually uses large kites to pull the racers, who are typically strapped onto a snowboard or skis, across the ice. These kites are attached to the end of long cables and use a unique steering system to allow competitors to adjust direction on the fly. What they lack in agility, the kites more than make up for with pure speed, although they do require more skill to control than it would seem at first glance.

Each of the three divisions holds their own appeal of course, although the one that fascinated me the most were the kites. One of the racers let me control his kite while it was in flight and I was amazed at the amount of force it could generate. On more than one occasion an errant gust threatened to rip the handle from my grasp and at times it was all I could do just to hang on. That same racer confessed that he was able to hit speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour on larger, wide-open lakes, although all of that speed wasn’t exactly translating into wins for him in Michigan.

While the graceful wings and speedy kites were a lot of fun to watch, it was the competitors themselves that left me the most impressed. After spending the better part of two days watching them race – and interact – with one another, I was amazed at the level of camaraderie that was on display. While it was clear that they all enjoyed the spirit of the competition, it was even more evident that they simply enjoyed hanging out with one another. Many of them were old friends who had raced against one another in the past, and in between heats they were often seen sharing gear, testing out each other’s rigs, and sharing tips to improve their performance. There was a lot of laughter and good-natured ribbing as well and it was abundantly clear that for many of them the WISSA Championship was simply a great excuse to get together with acquaintances both old and new.

The St. Ignace edition of the WISSA Championship was the first to be held in the States. Next year it will return to Finland, which has been a frequent host in the past. But organizers of the event in Michigan plan to set up a North American competition, which will return to the region on an annual basis. They also hope to continue to grow interest in the sport, which has the potential to be a popular alternative to traditional winter sports.

Visit Michigan.org for more ideas on what to do in Michigan during the winter.

Richard Branson hosts Kite Jam in British Virgin Islands

British billionaire adventurer Richard Branson is throwing a kite boarding festival in the British Virgin Islands starting this weekend, with top kite boarders from around the world descending on the topical paradise to challenge the big winds, big waves, and one another.

Dubbed the BVI Kite Jam, the event kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 27th with a VIP party and fashion show sponsored by Billabong. On Sunday, boats will begin shuttling guests and competitors to Necker Island, Branson’s luxurious, no expense spared, private playground. That island will serve as the base of operations for the week, with competitions and other events taking place there and on several surrounding islands.

The actual competitions get underway on Monday, March 1st with daily races and free style events lasting throughout the week, culminating with a pro rider showdown on Friday, March 5th. In addition to the various competitions, there will be regular kite clinics, allowing visitors to learn the sport for themselves, and a nearly endless string of awards ceremonies, luncheons, and parties.

The Kite Jam isn’t exactly for the casual kite boarding enthusiast however. Prices for the week long event begin at $25,400 for a single room in the Necker Island Great House and run as high as $28,350 for the Master Suite, with several other options inbetween. Those prices are all inclusive however, granting access to all the events and include all your meals and drinks as well. Quite the bargain, although it should be noted that the price does not include participation in the actual competitions themselves.

Anyone want to go “halfsies” on one of the suites?