As far as watersports go, the United States has a lot to offer. After all, the U.S. has it all: oceans, rivers, lakes, and more. No matter what you want to do, you can do it in the good old U.S. of A! Check out the coasts of California and Florida for great ocean adventures, or stay inland and enjoy the river rapids and glacial lakes. It’s up to you! If you’re a watersports fanatic, check out these top ten spots to practice your hobby. Every one of these is worth adding to your travel bucket list.
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1: Kayaking at Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is simply gorgeous. There is a lot to see and many relatively hidden places to explore, and adventuring is best done by kayak. When you’re in your own boat, you can create your own Tahoe experience. You can kayak along the coastline, or go to a small island in the middle of the lake. Or, just get way out into the water and enjoy the views. Crystal-clear water is so transparent that in some places, you’ll feel like you’re floating on air! Get out at sunset to see the lake reflect the brilliant colors of the sky. There are many rental facilities on the lake, or you can bring your own kayak.
Give yourself the ultimate tour of the Miami coastline. Jet skiing is a fun activity anywhere you go, but having a great view certainly doesn’t hurt! The brilliant blue water in Miami is inviting, and the city skyline makes a great backdrop for speeding along through the water. You also may get some unexpected visitors—it’s not uncommon for dolphins to join your fun!
Address: Miami, FL
3: Snorkel in Key West, Florida
Key West has some of the best snorkeling anywhere on the North American continent! The Caribbean Sea is the perfect place to see fish of all shapes, colors, and sizes living among colorful coral and even interesting wrecks. In Key West, you’ll find places that rent out snorkel equipment or even take you on a snorkel tour. If you want to learn about the different kinds of marine life you’ll see under the water, this is a great option! For budget travelers, you can buy your own snorkel gear at a supercenter and go by yourself.
Address: Key West, Florida
4: Snorkel in Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
It’s no secret that Hawaii has the most stunning snorkeling in the States, and it definitely has world-class ranking, as well. The sheer burst of color in the pacific is unbelievable! It’s amazing to see the vivacity of the world beneath the seemingly lifeless surface of the water. See corals, schools of fish, and more. You may even get to glide along beside a sea turtle! Octopi have also been known to make appearances to lucky snorkelers. You can take a tour or go on your own.
Address: Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
5: Sailing at the Golden Gate in San Francisco
If you want great views of the San Francisco Skyline, look no further than a sailing trip under the Golden Gate Bridge. You can’t imagine how huge the bridge is until you’re right underneath it! Taking a sail down the coast is always a great idea, but the best time to see the city is at sunset, when the whole place lights up with the vermillion glow of the day’s last light and then glitters with light after darkness takes over the sky.
Lake Powell is hands-down the most fun place to waterski in the Southwest. The lake is filled with interesting geologic formations, making it a scenic as well as fun place to go. Lake Powell is fairly expansive, so you’ll have plenty of room to zip along the surface, and there are many lesser-traveled areas to claim as your own for the day. Plus, the weather is usually nice at the Arizona-Utah border, so you’ll have a very low chance of getting rained out!
Address: Lake Powell
7: Rafting the Grand Canyon, Arizona
The coolest rafting trip in the States is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Floating down the Colorado River is the best way to see the majesty and sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon! Get to the heart of this wonder of the world when you raft through the river. The best time to do this is in the early summer or late spring, when the monsoons and crowds are still far away but the weather is warm enough to enjoy the cool water of the Colorado. This is definitely a trip of a lifetime.
California is pretty awesome by land, but it’s ever better by sea. Rent a powerboat in San Diego Bay for the ultimate ocean experience! It’s fun, it’s luxe, and it’s a day you’ll never forget. If chartering a boat is out of your budget, never fear; there are many powerboat tours you can join for a day of fun at sea.
If you think that snorkeling is cool, wait until you try diving! You can get closer to the reef and go deeper, where you’ll see bigger and more incredible sights. There are many wrecks to explore along the coast, and you never know what you’ll find. Fish, whale sharks—hammerhead sharks? If it sounds adrenaline-pumping, that’s because it is. You’ll be hard pressed to find another water sports experience that compares to scuba diving in Maui.
Address: Maui, Hawaii
10: Surfing in Santa Cruz, California
Surfing is harder than it looks but easier than you might expect. It’s also the biggest thrill you can get on the water! California is famous for its surf spots, and there’s a reason why. Monterey Bay’s southern end has several surf spots, some crowded and some not. If you’re a newbie, you can take a surfing lesson from a local surf school. If you’re a hardened pro, you can brave the sharks, rocks, and big waves of the more isolated areas.
Address: Santa Cruz, California
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