Whether you want to take on the wind and waves harnessed to your kite, slide down a tube on your surfboard, or witness the breathtaking spectacle of the ocean floor, here are some of the most beautiful places on the planet to practice your favorite watersport.
1 – Lionfish hunting in Dominica
Try your hand at spearing your supper on a lionfish safari from Secret Bay’s Tibay wild and volcanic beach. This opportunistic predator, that disrupts the endemic population balance and the coral ecosystem, hides under rocks on the reef. The Dominican government has begun encouraging locals and visitors alike to hunt these spiky striped nuisances. To catch one, you need to dive with Captain Don Mitchell, one of the most prolific lionfish hunters on island. Fish in hand, return to Secret Bay where Chef Fábio Fernandes gives cooking classes to taste thinly slices lionfish sashimi and grilled fillets. Their flesh is tender and mild. Hotel guests have caught more than 1,200 fish since 2018.
Secret Bay, Portsmouth, Dominica
2 – Swim in an underwater gallery on the French Riviera
View underwater art as you snorkel off the Lérins Islands, a 20-minute boat trip from the Cap d'Antibes property on the French Riviera. Below the surface, to be discovered with mask and snorkel, six underwater sculptures, each more than two meters high and modelled on people from the local community, are the creation of artist Jason deCaires Taylor. Spot Maurice, the 80-year-old fisherman, and nine-year-old Anouk, their faces immortalized among meadows of swaying sea grass. The art installation will become a refuge for underwater life since the area is a no-mooring zone. Back above the waves, take out the jet skis or paddle boards, or enjoy a sunset excursion with the hotel's boat while savoring a gourmet picnic signed by starred chef Nicolas Rondelli.
Cap d’Antibes Beach Hotel, Cap d'Antibes, France
3 – Cruise around Mount Athos in Greece
With its monasteries clinging to the mountainside, Mount Athos is a spectacular sight from the waterside, facing the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. Tourists aren’t allowed in the Unesco World Heritage Site, so a boat trip is the only way to see the Holy Mountain, where 1,400 monks live. A UNESCO World Heritage Monument is an independent state including 20 Orthodox monasteries, inhabited by 2.000 monks. From the deck of a catamaran, a day cruise around this Holy Mount is a once in a lifetime experience. Alternatively, enjoy a private yacht tour of six idyllic but uninhabited islets that make up Drenia, just off Halkidiki. Back at Avaton Luxury Hotel & Villa, on Mount Athos peninsula, experience a floating massage in the sea shallows, a candlelit dinner on the beach, or a floating breakfast in the pool.
Avaton Luxury Hotel & Villas, Chalkidiki, Greece
4 – Kitesurf in paradise in Zanzibar
The flat lagoon, warm tropical water and consistent winds for six months of the year at Paje make it one of the best places in the world to kitesurf. On Paje beach, the hotel kitesurfing school has the latest equipment for everyone from beginners to experts. Kayaking, paddle boarding, diving and surfing are also on offer. If that’s too active, just sit back on a traditional dhow boat and sail to a hidden sand bank, or take a 20-minute drive to the Rock Restaurant, set in the shallows of the Indian Ocean. Back at base, the villas, set in lush gardens and with a private pool, have sea views.
Zanzibar White Sand Luxury Villas & Spa, Zanzibar, Tanzania
5 – Estuary of Exe pleasures
The waters of the Exe estuary lap the grounds of this manor hotel and offer the perfect playground for messing about on water. Go water skiing, wakeboarding or windsurfing, try stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking, or paddle out of the estuary into the sea. In summer, the Exe estuary is populated by leisure boats on moorings while in winter, it belongs to one of the most varied bird populations in the country. Overlooking the estuary, with extensive views down the Devon coast, Lympstone Manor invites to enjoy beautiful walks on the Coastal Path. A delicious cuisine based on seafood products is served by the chef owner, Michael Caines.
Lympstone Manor Hotel, Restaurant and Vineyard, Exmouth, UK
6 – Snorkel with sea lions in Galapagos islands
A voyage round Ecuador’s Galapagos islands is like no other, exploring the fascinating world that helped Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution. Snorkel among sea lions, turtles and marine iguanas (if you’re lucky, you may see a penguin), hop aboard a zodiac boat to take excursions on shore, or watch the underwater world in a glass-bottomed boat. Wherever you go, you’ll be amazed at how tame the varied wildlife seems. The twin expedition ships Origin and Theory both have air-conditioned cabins and serve tasty meals: work up an appetite by taking out a kayak or paddle board.
Origin and Theory Galapagos, Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, Ecuador
7 – Diving and swimming pigs in Bahamas
It’s just a ten-minute boat ride from this island resort to the world’s third-largest barrier reef, with its 1,800-metre drop into the Tongue of the Ocean. It’s a fascinating place to go diving, or if you prefer, take a private snorkeling trip with the resort’s resident marine biologist to see sharks, barracudas and large schools of snappers. As well as exploring underwater, try bone fishing or reef fishing, or hop aboard one of the resort trimarans, and relax on the hammocks between the outriggers. For a really special excursion, fly by seaplane to Pig Beach to see Exuma’s famous swimming pigs.
Tiamo Resort, Driggs Hill, Bahamas
8 – Surfing and kite surfing in Portugal
Not far from Europe’s most westerly point, marked by the Cabo da Roca lighthouse, the Fortaleza do Guincho has commanding views over the wild Atlantic ocean, overlooking the cliffs and the raging sea. In Cascais, the popular seaside resort of Lisbon, in one of the country’s natural parks, it makes a superb base from which to go surfing or kite surfing at Guincho beach. The wind blows relentlessly and the waves are impressive. Boat trips are also offered to learn about the pleasure of fishing.
Fortaleza do Guincho, Cascais, Portugal
9 – Whale watching in Sri Lanka
Head out to sea from this clifftop eyrie to the migration channel for blue and sperm whales just a couple of miles off Sri Lanka’s south coast. An onboard naturalist will fill you in on the varied marine life before you anchor in Weligama Bay for breakfast and a swim. Back at the hotel, be sure to swim in the iconic crescent-shaped clifftop infinity pool, with amazing views out to sea. Stone pathways lead to secluded coves where you might see turtles flap in the crystalline waters. You can learn how to dive here, go surfing, enjoy guided body boarding or just take a kayak out to explore.
Cape Weligama, Weligama, Sri Lanka
10 – Sunset cruise in Bora Bora
Watch the sun sink into the sea on a solar-powered catamaran cruise on board Le Bora Bora’s Okeanos Pearl. Or enjoy sunset from one of the overwater bungalows at this Polynesian style island resort with mesmerizing views of Mount Otemanu. The surrounding watery world is just waiting to be explored – take a shark and ray adventure, heading out by boat to the edge of the lagoon to see blacktip and lemon sharks before swimming among the sting rays and picnicking on a private beach. Fill your days snorkeling in the coral garden or diving, or go paddle boarding or kayaking.
Le Bora Bora, Vaitape, French Polynesia