Blue Crush: Water Sports in Maldives, Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea
Pack your sunscreen and best-looking swimsuit and get your feet wet with water sports worth leaving town for this summer.
Flyboarding Fantasies: Maldives
Have a go at being Iron Man—albeit without the armor—as you go flyboarding above the open waters. This sport has taken the world by storm ever since French jet skiier Franky Zapata decided to strap a pair of high-pressure water jets to his boots four years ago. Here’s how it works: The Flyboard is connected to a watercraft by a long flexible hose, which feeds water to the jet nozzles under the pilot’s feet. The water gushing from the nozzle will send you rocketing up to 15 meters above the water, which gives you all the time you need to show off your moves.
What would make a better backdrop for your first flight than the Maldives’ dreamlike beaches? A 45-minute seaplane ride from the capital of Malé is Iru Fushi, a private island fringed with a lagoon on the northern side of the Maldivian archipelago. The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi resort offers many watersports including flyboarding. First-timers can get some basic training with the 30-minute Board Lesson ($1,360), while more advanced flyboarders can show off their triple backflips or dolphin dive into the cobalt sea with a 60-minute session ($2,560).
Rates per night start from $3,832; accommodates four. Noonu Atoll, Republic of Maldives, (+960) 656-0591, www.thesunsiyam.com
Giddy up for Horse Surfing: Indonesia
If catching the waves on a standard surfboard doesn’t quench your thirst for the ocean, what about riding off towards the sunset on a surfboard... towed by a horse? Kitesurfer Harold Quinquis invented horse surfing in 2003, and it’s been galloping onwards ever since. Nihiwatu, a retreat on the outlying island of Sumba in Eastern Indonesia and a 50-minute flight from Bali, sets the scene for horse surfing with its sandalwood forests, silky sands and crystal clear waters. Make sure to grab the chance to skim over the shallows on a horse-powered wakeboard ($582).
Want a kick out of tamer water sports? Rent some jet skis from the resort
($465 for two for 30 minutes) and get some wind in your hair as you go whizzing across the water on an aquatic motorbike.
Rates per night start from $10,860; accommodates four. Sumba island, Indonesia, (+62) 361-757-149, www.nihiwatu.com
Kitesurfing with the Wind: Vietnam
If you want a taste of everything in one activity, kitesurfing is just the thing for you: A mix of wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding and more, it’s one big jumble of spine-tingling sporting activities. Plant your feet firmly on the kiteboard, clasp the control bar attached to the kite, and off you go with the wind. In 2013, a group of six kitesurfed 5,600km across the Atlantic Ocean from the Canary Islands to the Turks and Caicos—talk about extreme traveling.
But you don’t have to go quite that far. Mui Ne, a four-hour drive from Saigon, is a rising spot for kitesurfing due to its strong cross-onshore winds and affordable sports packages. After an hour of kitesurfing, sink back into comfort at the luxury resort Anantara Mui Ne Resort and Spa, right next to the beach. Plan to go during the windier months of December to March if you’re looking to catch more speed.
Rooms from $1,077 from mrandmrssmith.com. Mui Ne Beach, KM10, Ham Tien Ward, Phan Thiet City, Binh Thuan Province, Vietnam, www.mui-ne.anantara.com
The Big Blob Jump: South Korea
Blob jumping, or simply “blobbing,” was originally inspired by the huge floating fuel tanks used for military ships. It’s now a wacky pastime not unlike a cross between a seesaw and a trampoline, only without the skill requirements. The flyer sits on the front edge of a huge inflatable—the blob—while another person butt-drops off of a platform onto the rear end and blasts the flyer into the air. If you don’t want to flap your arms like a chicken as you sail up, do a somersault tuck in the air before smashing into the water.
Adrenaline junkies can hunt for high-flying thrills at the River Palace Water Park in Chuncheun, northeast of Seoul. Starting at $200, you can try two of the three facilities which include an inflatable obstacle course, blob jumping and disco boats—where a group of up to 15 people cling to the side of a gyroscope-shaped giant inflatable attached to a speeding watercraft. Book a private day tour by messaging Pat Chan at facebook.com/kimchipat ($850, minimum four people), which takes you straight from your hotel to the water park and offers you unlimited access to all the watersport facilities there. Includes a tour guide fluent in Korean and English.
366-1 Banghari, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, South Korea, (+070) 4401-3188, www.rvpalace.co.kr