The Best Ports for Water Sportsby Donna Heiderstadt | April 03, 2018
Cruising may afford the best views of the world’s oceans and seas, but one of the best ways to enjoy the water is by actually getting into it. If you love to snorkel, scuba dive, paddle board, surf, kayak, or interact with marine life, here are the 10 best ports—from the Caribbean to the South Pacific—for water sports.
George Town, Grand Cayman
Two of Grand Cayman’s best-known attractions—Seven Mile Beach and Stingray City—make it a top choice for anyone wanting to get wet. Head to Seven Mile Beach for kayaking, sailing, wakeboarding, and stand-up paddle boarding, as well as WaveRunner and water bike rentals. You can also book scuba and snorkel trips or get certified and take your first ocean dive. If you prefer the action to come to you, Stingray City is a shallow offshore sandbar where you can swim with the playful stingrays that congregate here.
From active, adventurous pursuits such as surfing and ocean kayaking to more serene excursions like snorkeling and dolphin- or whale-watching, Lihue offers cruisers countless ways to enjoy the water. The gentle waves of Kaanapali and Kihei are ideal for first-time surfers, while only experienced boarders should tackle the big swells at Honolua Bay and Hookipa Beach near Paia (also famous for windsurfing). Snorkelers and divers can head to the offshore volcanic crater of Molokini, and kayakers can get close to whales and sea turtles. For something different, you can even take mermaid swim lessons.
King’s Wharf, Bermuda
This sunny island in the Atlantic is known for its beautiful beaches and pastel colonial architecture. But dive beneath the surface and you’ll discover that Bermuda is home to more shipwrecks per square mile than any other place on the planet. In addition to wreck diving, you can go snorkeling, sailing, kayaking, parasailing, paddle boarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, fly boarding, wakeboarding, and jet-skiing. In the spring, it’s possible to whale watch, too.
Not every water sport requires tropical temperatures. The Alaskan capital offers kayaking and canoeing against a pristine backdrop of snow-capped mountains and gleaming blue glaciers. And it’s not just possible but common to see dolphins, humpback whales, orcas, eagles, and even grizzlies. If you love to fish, salmon and halibut excursions are also popular.
Moorea, French Polynesia
Whether you opt to parasail above Moorea’s incredible lagoon or snorkel alongside the creatures that reside in it, the water-based activities here are memorable. Top options include snorkel tours to feed friendly local stingrays (and observe the curious black-tipped reef sharks that gather, too), as well as waterskiing, jet-skiing, kayaking, and even glass-bottom canoeing. Divers can choose from dozens of top sites and nature lovers can spy on acrobatic spinner dolphins playing in the lagoon.
This island, located just south of Cancun on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, has long attracted snorkelers and divers with its clear Caribbean water and plentiful sea life (including massive but gentle whale sharks). Cruisers can book snorkel or dive excursions (or try Snuba or a Mini-SUB, which don’t require certification) and they can also enjoy parasailing, jet-skiing, or jet boating.
Newport, Rhode Island
Is sailing is your passion? Then the waters that surround Rhode Island’s top playground are sure to provide relaxation and exhilaration. Visitors to Newport can explore the picturesque, mansion-lined coast of Narragansett Bay the traditional way (via a rented sailboat or kayak) or with some added excitement (via jet-skiing, parasailing, or fly boarding). Surfing and kitesurfing are popular here, too.
Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos
Sometimes all you want to do is relax on a beach and play in the clear, calm Caribbean Sea. If so, this large yet thinly populated island in Turks and Caicos is perfect for you. There are dozens snorkeling and scuba sites (the island’s waters are known for their coral walls) and you can try Snuba here, too. Other popular activities include kayaking, kiteboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, and fishing.
While cruising the Adriatic, take a break from historic sights and wine tastings to visit this sunny island off Croatia’s famed Dalmatian Coast. You’ll find plenty of heart-pumping water sports, including wakeboarding, fly boarding, jet-skiing, and tubing or test your balance atop a stand-up paddle board. Sailing and sea kayaking are options, too.
Want to try something most of your friends haven’t? In Nassau, opt to go jet packing: You’ll be strapped into a jet pack that’s attached via a hose to a nearby Jet Ski and as water surges through the hose it lifts you more than a dozen feet above Goodman’s Bay. You can also parasail, jet ski, flyboard, Snuba, kayak, ride in a personal Mini-SUB, snorkel with sharks, and dive into a blue hole.
Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.