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At SwimVacation go hard or go easy

Wild Caribbean

Claim your buried treasure

Welcome to New World mystery. Unleash your elemental wild side in this place, unlike any other in the world. Claim your buried treasure. Explore a few closely held myths. Make a new way on these wild encounters and sail away to a new paradise. Mention the Caribbean and the sound of steel drums, tales of pirates, sunbaked beaches, and calls to adventure come to mind. The hotspot evokes a kind of fantasyland where the sun never sets and the rum never goes dry, filled with palm trees, coconuts, plantains, papayas, and the dream of discovering buried treasure. There’s something in the air in this part of the world that blends the mythological, the supernatural, the Calypsonian and storyteller in us all, creating our own kind of folklore. You can almost hear the whispers of the past on the Caribbean’s storied, consistent trade winds. Winds that blew unimaginable treasure across the ocean to the Old World.

Kitesurf from island to island on an ocean of glass where the wind never sets, more priceless than any plundered chest of gold.

WILD ENCOUNTERS

SNORKELLING WITH HUMPBACKS OF SILVER BANK

Dominican Republic
Five hundred years ago, the Spanish began mining gold on the island they called Hispañola. You’ll mine something more precious off its coast on a luxury, eight-day cruise out of Puerto Plata to the magical shallow waters of Silver Bank. Discover your treasure by snorkelling ancient seas on the historic trade route to Spain. Seventy miles off the coast of the Dominican Republic, in the heart of a rare marine sanctuary, you’ll encounter one of the world’s largest mammals.

Kite the cays – go as remote as you dare, photo credit Gerard Smith Zenith Ocean Voyages
Kite the cays – go as remote as you dare, photo credit Gerard Smith Zenith Ocean Voyages

It all begins on the high seas aboard a 124-foot yacht with ten en-suite staterooms featuring picture windows and exquisite amenities worthy of Blackbeard’s plunder. A few daily excursions allow you to become enchanted by the majesty of the humpback’s many moods, like pectoral fin slaps and spy-hopping. Once submerged, behind the glass of your mask you’ll behold a sight unlike any you’ve seen or will again – when the humpback greets you gently, perhaps inviting you for a ride on its fin.

After a day at sea, relax on the picturesque boat deck, equally ideal for soaking in the sun or star gazing. Meanwhile, in the galley, your onboard chef masterfully creates sundowner meals and serves them up to order with plenty of celebratory spirits in honour of your latest adventure. As the night winds down, your trip guide teaches you more about your new best friend, the humpback whale. www.wildernesstravel.com

Kite the cays

The Grenadines
Out-of-the-way resorts and virgin beaches have long enchanted jet setters and pirates alike in dozens of islands known as the Grenadines, where you’ll spend a week kitesurfing in paradise. Set sail among the windward islands in a way conquistadors never imagined, ripping over the Caribbean on a surfboard powered by the wind. You’ll discover the treasure of downwind heaven only a half-day sail away from St. Lucia at the very heart of the island chain.

Breathtaking, rewarding conditions exist in the storied Grenadines with wind speeds ranging from 17 to 24 knots. Kitesurf from island to island on an ocean of glass where the wind never sets, more priceless than any plundered chest of gold. A playground of swells and waves, it’s the domain of those comfortable with staying upwind. Certain to be one of the rawest, wildest rides of your life.

Zenith Ocean Voyages has one rule, Enjoy. Do nothing, just ask for it. Go as remote as you dare. Gerard is as skilled on the waves captaining his yacht Meercat as he is slicing them. From coaching you to shooting your best action shots, he’s got you covered. And there’s always surprises, like a legendary pro boarder showing up to teach you a few new tricks.

Features of Meercat include three luxurious en-suite queen cabins perfect for six people. With Lauren’s incredible cooking, you’ll have a Michelin-rated chef preparing meals rivalling any five-star restaurant served at an exclusive table with stunning views of the crystal blue sea. They offer custom itineraries for experienced kitesurfers and learners alike with eclectic locations that promise to thrill. Their mission, should you choose to accept it, is to deliver the ultimate kiting experience by following the tradewinds to the most pristine locations. www.zenithoceanvoyages.net

SwimVacation

British Virgin Islands
For some, the aquatic isn’t about a one-time vacation experience or even passion; it’s a lifestyle. Water runs in their veins. At SwimVacation go hard or go easy, whatever suits your style. Small groups of up to ten people and two staff members make custom experiences for swimmers of every ability. Elite swimmers will enjoy longer distances.

Clinics boost your open water swimming skills. It’s not about racing, it’s about the fun of exploring reefs, stopping to see coral and fish, and swimming along powdery white beaches and around cays. Whatever your skill level, tours are designed with everyone in mind. Improve your swim with a collaborative stroke analysis, instruction on buoy turns, nautical chart reading and race strategy. Fabulously prepared meals pay attention to diet restrictions and provide plenty of liquid courage as every trip hosts an open bar. Switch it up with amenities aboard the 19 metres long, 10.5 metres wide schoonerrigged trimaran, Promenade, that include toys like kayaks, fishing gear, water skis, kneeboards, tubes, snorkel gear and floating mats. Five luxurious cabins with queensized beds allow for the utmost in privacy. The cockpit has a permanent shade awning for those wanting to get out of the sun and provides a jaw-dropping spot on the sea to gather for meals each day. After a day of swimming and touring, crash on the trampoline and admire the Caribbean’s sweeping vistas while sharing your latest adventures with friends and family, or just do what the pirates did, drink rum. swimvacation.com

Kloofing & Boiling Lake Hike

Dominica
If you’re into adrenaline-filled plunges into mountain rivers and navigating boulders on the wildest ride of your life, there’s only one answer to the question – to kloof or not to kloof? YES!

slithering though the middle of a waterfall, photo credit extremedominica.com
slithering though the middle of a waterfall, photo credit extremedominica.com

Picture slithering through the middle of a waterfall, dangling there. Letting the watery force of nature hit your skin and awaken your senses. Then comes the rush of plunging into the water and navigating a wild ride through the river. Canyoning, or river tracing, as it’s sometimes called, goes back to our early ancestors and explorers who found themselves for one reason or another having to get out of tough situations where the only option was to go for it! Ravines offered indigenous people a great way to live, hide, hunt and defend themselves.

The equipment and mindset of kloofing are far different than rock climbing. Their similarities end with the harness and ropes involved. Most of the equipment involved is kloof-specific, so expect the unexpected when mastering this new sport on your next trip. To get the most exclusive kloofing experience, companies like TCS World Travel or Black Tomato exist to provide you with tailor-made experiences and accommodations. www.extremedominica.com

Need high-adrenaline but want to skip a sport historically described as insane people with a death wish? We’ve got you covered. Take a hike to a boiling lake. Yes, boiling. Obviously not for wimps, the hard eight-hour round trip hike leads you to discover the kind of treasure only one of nature’s masterpieces can provide. At 63 meters wide, this bubbling cauldron of water, usually shrouded in steam, is the second largest of its kind in the world. The best part? You take an Indiana-Jones type of trail to see it. The exotic experience is a mystery you’ll always remember, as most of it lies on a razor-thin mountain edge. As in life, the experience of ‘One Who Knows The Way’ is priceless so go with a wise guide. Be sure to leave your tiara at home as the muddy trail demands your worst clothes. You’ll need a recovery day afterwards, and we’ve got just the thing for that. www.avirtualdominica.com/the-boiling-lake

Birdwatching

Surprises on Necker Island include a rumoured champagne-pouring mermaid, photo credit virginlimitededition.com
Surprises on Necker Island include a rumoured champagne-pouring mermaid, photo credit virginlimitededition.com

Trinidad & Tobago
Not all wild encounters are adrenaline-fuelled, of course. For the perfect awe-inspiring rest day, head to Asa Wright Nature Centre & Lodge tucked away in the 1,500 acres Arima Valley of the Northern Range in Trinidad and Tobago. Spotting rare birds in this tropical rainforest and learning about their precarious survival will help your spirit soar among canopies that top-out at 46 meters. A renaissance of wildlife, the Nature Centre’s built on the site of an old cocoa-coffee-citrus plantation, brings together scientists, artists, authors, educators and conservationists alike who are all dedicated to learning and be inspired by the beauty of the birds.

All year long, celebrity birders are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Eco-lodge. Partnering with Caligo Ventures, the Asa Wright Nature Centre hopes to provide you with the optimum tropical birding experience while supporting the conservation and education mission of the nature centre.

A win-win for your wild side and the famous inhabitants of the tropical rainforest, you’ll get to explore the rainforest in a most unique and entertaining way. Take your pick of onsite walks, offsite field trips or develop your artistic style with art lessons either independently or in a group. www.caligo.com

Dwarf Forest, El Yunque National Forest

Puerto Rico
The most adventurous hike into another world begins on the road less travelled and into a land where the plants, even some trees, are small. So small you’ll hardly believe your eyes. Let the sheer beauty of the impossibility of nature fill your soul and quiet your mind. It was believed by the ancients that the mountain forest was a throne for the good spirit Yuquiyu, who took great care in the protection of Puerto Rico and her people. What better way to tour a mystery-filled wonderland than with an experienced guide, dedicated to making your tour unique and awe inspiring. John Druitt of Island Walkers will lead you down little-known paths. A Dwarf Forest expert, let his passion for nature, tales about plant life, and the history of the island leave you with long-savoured memories on your return to the real world. Wild and unpredictable, you’ll find yourself wondering if you’ve fallen into the looking glass. (Island Walkers)

NEW PARADISE

After going wild, you’ll need a palatial lair for all your hammock-raving. Here are a few famous and soon-to-be famous paradises for you to hold up while discovering your hidden treasure in the Caribbean.

Necker Island

The beach becomes your living room at Park Hyatt in St. Kitts, photo credit thebrandmanagency.com
The beach becomes your living room at Park Hyatt in St. Kitts, photo credit thebrandmanagency.com

British Virgin Islands
Home-away-from-home for the Obama’s last month, this resort has the kind of laidback luxury that had the President rocking his hat back on 74 acres of stone-cold cool. The fun starts with as many as 28 guests on your own private island. The unbelievable combination of service and style found on Necker Island has no equal for luxury, privacy and sustainability. Find your call of the wild on your own private island where true treasure rests in unbridled relaxation and legendary parties. So many party nights to choose from, and so little time. Themes include UV night, where those in the know wear all-white.

Head chef Chris Kenny wows with new, sustainable ways of creating the finest of Asian-inspired meals. To help rest your kiting, hiking, swimming and snorkelling sore muscles, the island’s exquisite spa offers a special Bali Leha Signature Treatment. The island’s constant surprises include a rumoured champagne-pouring mermaid that inhabits the pool from time to time. From flamingos to iguanas to lemurs to tortoises, conservation staff will be able to answer your questions about wildlife and the care of the island’s animals. When you are ready to get back out on the water, a staff of eleven experts can help you find a new sport or master your favourite, from sailing to windsurfing to kayaking. Indulge your passions on land with tennis, yoga and personal training. Your island awaits your every whim.

Zemi Beach House

Anguilla
Let the trade winds blow you to Anguilla’s Zemi Beach House, a marvel of sophisticated style and seclusion that will nourish your spirit as well as your soul. Romantics and adventurers alike are destined to spread their wings here. A lively harbour, secluded beaches and a rich history combine to entice you into a deeper discovery of the island. Your ultra-romantic hosts provide magic touches, including private candlelit dinners on the beach that heighten your celebrations, be it the beginning of your fairytale, the journey of a lifetime, or a quick getaway.

For adventures that take you away from your spot at Shoal Bay, forget your beach read and head to Sandy Ground. A Sunday afternoon might find jazz floating from the direction of local hotspots on the fringe of the public beach. The main harbour pulses all day long, welcoming sailboats and yachts from all over the world. Sneak away to Rendezvous Bay if you long for endless seclusion. History buffs will get their groove on at Wallblake House in the valley, a seventeenth-century plantation house and the oldest structure on Anguilla.

After an island adventure, enjoy your piece of paradise with rum tasting. Or meet up with your personal trainer at Zemi Beach House’s exclusive Beach Boot Camp. The popular offering shakes up your normal workout routine and will see to it you look even more amazing in that great new swimsuit.

Park Hyatt, Christophe Harbour (opens summer 2017)

St. Kitts
The indigenous Columbian Carib called their island Liamuiga, fertile land. From your first step onto the island, you’ll understand why. The newest property in the Caribbean nestles into the rolling hills of St. Kitts, overlooking volcanic Nevis Island. The Caribbean’s first Park Hyatt redefines luxury, featuring rooms with individual rooftop pools. You won’t have to leave your room to enjoy the ultimate in relaxation and worldfamous sunsets.

Sophisticated furnishings and an airy design invite the tropical landscape in. With panoramic views and open architecture, the beach becomes your living room the moment you awaken. Country nautical accents with a touch of whimsy and elegant Asian features comfort and surprise. When exploration turns to relaxation, two massive infinity pools and a luxurious spa greet you, providing an oasis of relief.

The island’s rich history and lush landscape call you to explore. Begin at Bloody Point by the Stone Fort River, where some say you can hear the ghosts of an ancient massacre in the wind. Legend says the deaths of thousands of Caribs turned the river red for three days. The symbol of supremacy known as Brimstone Hill Fortress stands as a testimony to the kind of defences needed to keep the island in the British Commonwealth and out of the hands of pirates and other plunderers.

EAST

Miami, Florida
Like locations in Hong Kong and Beijing, East Miami strives to make living fabulous, whether on business or pleasure. Reflecting the glamour of Miami, East wows with luxury and elegant surprises like Quinto La Huella, an Uruguayan urban tropical respite away from prying eyes. An elegant yet cosy environment inside or out, adjourn to the breathtaking outdoor terraces and watch night descend on The Magic City. The utmost attention to detail brings harmony to the energy flow within the resort and balance to individual guests. East’s contemporary architecture focuses on Feng Shui, radiesthesia, crystal healing and BioGeometry, and has become a pioneer in caring for their guests’ physical and spiritual wellness. Built on the roof of Brickell City Centre, home to a 500,000 square-foot shopping centre, you’ll have plenty of places to shop until you drop.

Located close to South Beach, you’re destined to rub elbows with sun seekers, celebrities and party people. For a romantic outing, visit the fairytale residence at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and witness the ultimate in extravagance, a masterpiece one thousand people built once upon a time. Or tour the Kampong, a nine-acre private residence in Coconut Grove, with enchanting banyan trees, rolling lawns and one of the most stunning views of Biscayne Bay in the city. By night leave the city behind and admire her lights over the water on a sundown cruise aboard your private yacht. By day, sail away to a wild, uninhabited cay.

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Photo credit : Heather Perry SwimVacation

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