You don’t have to be a billionaire yachtsman to spend your next vacation plying cool waters. Get a unique perspective you can’t get by air or land with these shipshape vacations—from the crystal calm of the Caribbean and the Mediterranean to whitewater rafting and Alaskan cruises, there’s something to float every boat.
At the Barefoot Offshore Sailing School in the Grenadines, you can learn to sail in one of the most pristine areas of the Caribbean. The 32 Grenadine islands offer beautiful views, tranquil waters, and lots of wind. After living and sailing on a 40-foot boat for a week, you’ll have earned an American Sailing Association certification and learned enough to charter your own yacht.
Greece is another great destination for island-hopping by boat. Ferries are the preferred mode of transit for moving between the country’s 1,400 islands. Aside from being the most practical and inexpensive way to navigate the Greek Isles, ferries offer great views and a way to meet the local people who use the boats as their regular form of transportation.
Floating down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon is a once-in-a-lifetime way to see the natural wonder from a new perspective. Trips down the river aren’t just white water adventures; many tour operators offer multiple day excursions that give you the opportunity to leave the raft, and experience the calm and beauty of the canyon. Companies like Western River Expeditions provide the supplies and know-how to help greenhorns camp on the banks of the river and explore rarely-visited sites in the depths of the canyon.
Since overland travel in Alaska can be difficult and time-consuming, a cruise is one of the best ways to visit the Last Frontier. Plus the seaside views offer you the opportunity to see glaciers, seals and humpback whales up close. Right now cruise lines are booking for their early 2014 trips and Orbitz has some great deals on Alaskan cruises.