Cool Water World

Experience wildlife, natural beauty, and a good soaking with our guide to the best spots for water sports.

Cool Water World - Woman on Beach

Fernando Diez

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All winter long, you yearned for the summer sunshine. Now that it's finally here, you can't wait to seek relief and take to the water. The challenge is finding the ideal place for your favorite activity.

 Cooking Light searched the country to find the best of the best, settling for nothing less than breathtaking views, unspoiled nature, and clear waters.

Whether your idea of aquatic adventure is catching a wave or floating down a lazy river, there's bound to be something here for you to enjoy.

 Best Tubing 
James River, Virginia Tubing is less a sport than an excuse to watch the world float by, and the best place to do just that is on the James River in Scottsville, Virginia. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the wild scenery--the area is ideal for catching glimpses of deer, blue heron, and the elusive bald eagle. James River Reeling and Rafting offers a two-to-four-hour trip down a scenic four-mile stretch of the river through the Blue Ridge Mountains. To keep the good times rolling down the river, pack a cooler and rent an extra inner tube to keep your refreshments afloat. Details: 804-286-4386 or; $14 per person.

 Best Kayaking 
Coastal Maine Imagine gliding silently across the cool, blue water under the watchful eye of a bald eagle as a harbor seal lumbers toward the water from the margins of a monolithic rock island. The gentle current carries you past stands of fragrant spruce trees from which a weathered lighthouse protrudes, having led fishermen home for more than a century. This would be Maine, and you would be on a Coastal Kayaking tour.

Whether it's a sunset paddle around Mount Desert Island, a multiday camping trip that allows you to spend your nights on several different uninhabited is- lands, or the Inn-to-Inn Tour, which offers over-night lodging and meals in classic New England inns, you'll find the serenity for which you've been searching. Located in Bar Harbor, the gateway to Acadia National Park, Coastal Kayaking of- fers a wider variety of guided sea-kayaking tours than any other outfitter on the East Coast. Details: 800-526-8615 or; tours from $34 to $599.

 Best Surfing 
La Jolla, California Would-be surfer girls looking to make like Gidget should head to La Jolla, California--a tony suburb of San Diego and a top travel destination in its own right. There, on warm, sun-soaked Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Surf Diva Surf School conducts a women-only surfing clinic. As you soak up the grand view from La Jolla Shores Beach (surrounded by sandstone cliffs), you can pick up boarding tips from some of the world's best women surfers (there are several surf champions among Surf Diva's twenty-odd instructors). It's a girl-power kind of organization, but instructors booked for private lessons will gladly accept tagalong guys, too. While we think the view and the first-rate instruction are enough to make La Jolla the best place to hang 10, the town also offers some of the world's finest restaurants, art galleries, and stores, so you can while away the evenings eating, browsing, and shopping. But if the surf's the thing, ask about Surf Diva's Las Olas Surf Adventure, a weeklong, women-only retreat held in a small fishing village near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico--tuition ($1,595 to $2,190) includes surfing instruction, lodging, meals, yoga lessons, and even a free massage. Details: 858-454-8273 or

Puget Sound, Washington If the thought of sailing among pods of majestic killer whales isn't enough to get you to the Puget Sound this summer, consider this: The waters of the sound offer hundreds of first-rate destinations--from isolated spots such as Jones Island (where you can feed deer apples out of the palm of your hand) to untrampled state parks with winding trails, to upscale resorts serving succulent sea- food. Not to mention that you couldn't ask for better sailing conditions than those characteristic of the San Juan Islands, just north of the sound. Protected from ocean storms by Van- couver Island to the northwest and from rain by the Olympic Mountains directly west, the waters in the summer frequently offer ultraclear sailing under sunny midafternoon skies. Charter a boat from San Juan Sailing, home of the country's largest charter fleet, or learn the ropes through one of the many packages offered by its accredited Sailing School. Details: 800-677-7245 or; trips from $149 to $949.


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