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Tenerife Puerto Cruz Islands rocks

9 Tropical Island Adventures

Article by Jen Murphy 11.08.2017

Sunny days relaxing on the beach can be heavenly, but a big, bold world of adventure awaits on our favorite islands. Swim with stingrays. Surf Hawaii’s legendary waves. Spot vibrant wildlife in dense, lush rainforests or from a glass-bottomed kayak. 

1. Maui, Hawaii: Surf, whale watch and get lost on the trail

Located at the foot of the verdant West Maui Mountains, Kapalua is a dream base for active travelers. Winter months bring humpback whales as well as fast-breaking winter swells for surfing lovers. Year-round, travelers can snorkel the calm, clear waters of Kapalua Bay or swap fins for hiking boots and get lost on the trails of the West Mauis. History nerds can hike to the private arboretum of the late D.T. Fleming, while thrill-seekers can scramble along jaw-dropping ridgelines and swim under waterfalls. 

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua

2. Tenerife, Spain: Get lost on the trail, and harness the wind on the sea

Tenerife, the largest island of the seven Canary Islands, is an off-the-radar adventure hub. With 43 protected nature areas, and brilliant marine life, there are endless activities on both land and sea. The island has hundreds of miles of trails that can be traversed on foot, by bike or on horseback. If watersports are your thing, the region’s wind patterns make Tenerife a mecca for windsurfers and kitesurfers.

Tenerife Puerto Cruz Coast

3. Amelia Island, Florida: Kayak the marshes and spot baby sea turtles

Just off the coast of northeast Florida, Amelia Island is home to 13 miles of beautiful beaches as well as incredible native wildlife. Kayak tours are one of the best ways to experience the area’s natural wonders. A paddle through salt marshes and Spanish moss-draped estuaries might move you past heron, egret and manatee. May is sea turtle season, and it’s not unusual to spot hatchlings making their way to the ocean. Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch gives visitors the opportunity to attend a nest excavation and learn more about the plight of the turtle.

Marsh kayaks

4. Aruba: Go on a Jeep safari

The tiny Dutch island of Aruba has a wild side that sets it apart from other Caribbean islands. Rugged landscapes and remote beaches on the eastern side still feel undiscovered. A Jeep safari is a thrilling way to take in the island’s coastline as it allows plenty of opportunities to stop and play. The Natural Pool, formed by a wall of volcanic rock, is the perfect place for a midday dip. And any island tour should include a visit to desert-like Arikok National Park and its mysterious caves, many lined with drawings by the Caquetio Indians. 

Aruba Natural Pool

5. Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands: Swim with stingrays

Popular Stingray City gives travelers the chance to get up close and personal with marine life. Wade out to the shallow sandbar and you’ll find yourself surrounded by more than two dozen Atlantic Southern Stingrays. Guides will assist and snap photos as you snorkel alongside the magnificent rays. Brave snorkelers can even feed the gentle creatures. 

Woman snorkeling with stingrays

6. Cancun, Mexico: Fine Art, Natural Beauty

Experience one of the world’s most unique museums at Cancun’s underwater gallery Museo Subacuático de Arte. Seeing the hundreds of life-size sculptures reposed silently in the shallow depths — gradually transforming into a coral reef — brings a profound sense of our intimate and delicate connection with the natural environment. View the museum and stunning marine life by scuba diving, snorkeling or glass bottom boat. 

Ocean Museum in cancun

7. Bali: Trek to rice paddies and waterfalls

Bali’s beaches are renowned worldwide, but the island’s interiors are equally as spectacular and refreshingly secluded. Trekking offers a unique lens on local culture as well as breathtaking natural scenery. Trailheads near Tirtagangga Water Palace in eastern Bali weave through small villages and vast rice fields. For Instagram-worthy waterfalls, head to Munduk in the central rainforest, home to dramatic river gorges and flowing falls.

Water Blow Bali

8. Okinawa, Japan: Zip line through the treetops

Get a bird’s-eye view of Okinawa from high up in the treetops during a zip line adventure at Forest Adventure in Onna. Ten zip lines let travelers glide high over a forest-lined cavern as they take in distant ocean views. Bridges, ladders, Tarzan swings and other obstacles are interspersed between zip lines, making for a fun day of adventures for all ages.

Nakijin Castle Ruins surrounded by forests and ocean

9. Sanya, China

Known as the “Hawaii of China,” Sanya is a coastal city at the southern tip of Hainan Island that’s becoming a hot spot for travelers. The tropical climate is warm all year long, so it’s a great place to go when you want to escape the frigid temperatures of winter. Head to Yalong Bay to experience the beauty of our revolving planet from white sand beaches.

Sanya resort with palm trees

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Plan Your Stay in These Destinations


  • Kapalua

    Location Maui, Hawaii

    Experience A resort rich in cultural traditions and a warm Aloha spirit.

    • Unique ocean activities for everyone
    • Three distinctive beachside cabana offerings
    • Snorkeling & underwater photography
  • Abama

    Location Tenerife, Spain

    Experience A beachside retreat where sea, land and resort blend seamlessly.

    • Overlooks the brilliantly blue Atlantic
    • 13 restaurants and bars to experience
    • A 72-par, Dave Thomas golf course
  • Amelia Island

    Location Amelia Island, Florida

    Experience A barrier island retreat with true Southern charm.

    • Set on 13 miles of dune-lined beaches
    • Island adventures and family activities
    • AAA Five Diamond restaurant, Salt
  • Aruba

    Location Palm Beach, Aruba

    Experience Crystal blue Caribbean waters and the powdery sand of Palm Beach.

    • Rejuvenating island-inspired spa treatments
    • Roll the dice at a world-class casino
    • Accommodations feature a private balcony
  • Grand Cayman

    Location Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

    Experience The natural beauty and soft sands of Seven Mile Beach.

    • Turquoise waters blend with a cerulean sky
    • Decadent seafood at Blue by Eric Ripert
    • Greg Norman-designed Ritz-Carlton Golf Club
  • Cancun

    Location Cancun, Mexico

    Experience A luxurious retreat along Mexico’s Mayan coastline.

    • AAA Five Diamond Awarded resort & restaurants
    • Ancient Mayan therapies at Kayantá Spa
    • Culinary Center & interactive cooking classes
  • Bali

    Location Bali, Indonesia

    Experience Beautiful cliff tops overlooking the Indian Ocean and white sands.

    • Tropical paradise with lush landscapes
    • Spacious cliff top villas with private pools
    • Exotic dishes made with local flavors
  • Bali, Ubud, Mandapa

    Location Bali, Indonesia

    Experience A sanctuary set among rolling hills, a river and rice terrace.

    • Discover hidden templates and lush forests
    • Romantic, private dining experiences
    • Wellness programs for mind, body and soul
  • Okinawa

    Location Okinawa, Japan

    Experience An island retreat surrounded by a championship golf course.

    • Embodies the friendship spirit, “Keion”
    • 18-hole golf course overlooks the ocean
    • Feel the power of nature at award-winning ESPA
  • Sanya

    Location Sanya, Hainan, China

    Experience Pristine beaches, rainforests and the clear South China Sea.

    • An ideal beachfront family resort in Sanya
    • Bespoke service throughout your stay
    • A one-of-a-kind retreat in “Oriental Hawaii”