True connoisseurs can taste the character of a city in its beer, especially those cities constructed mostly from hops and barley. Sample the sudsy side of San Diego with today's Groupon: for $89, you get a luxury brewery tour for two from Brew Hop (a $190 value).
The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” From humble beginnings, the program went on to attract world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Today, the cruising university onboard the MV Explorer offers two-week Enrichment Voyages for learners of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history. This 15-day cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration as it passes along Mexico’s Baja peninsula toward the Isthmus of Panama and Ecuador. At each port on the itinerary, available excursions range from dive trips to volunteer service projects, such as plastering houses or feeding kindergarteners (additional fees apply for shore trips). Or you can set off on your own, armed with knowledge acquired from the recommended reading list.Days 1–3: After cruising from Ensenada, Mexico, to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, the ship anchors at Cabo San Lucas. El Arco, the city’s iconic seaside arch, forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling.Day 6: Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala lies within easy range of Antigua, named an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture. It's ringed by mountains playing a very slow-moving game of duck-duck-goose. Day 7: Nicaragua’s largest Pacific port, Corinto, borders León, an old-world town dotted with 17th-century Spanish colonial churches such as the Cathedral of the Assumption.Days 9–10: Balboa, Panama, stands at the entrance to the Panama Canal—still an engineering marvel. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.Days 12–13: Dipping toward South America, the ship docks at Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions.Day 15: The journey concludes at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, leaving you free to explore inland rainforests or head home. During each day at sea, college professors and other experts lead a string of seminars. Subjects are as varied as marine ecology, cultural anthropology, and photojournalism, and they often relate to the next port of call. The ship retains vestiges of its former life as a commercial liner. There are barstools in the 9,000-volume library, for instance, testifying to the space's former role as the ship's tavern. Despite the emphasis on education, there’s still plenty of relaxation aboard. The Wellness Center spa offers massages, manicures, and other pampering services. Nightly live entertainment offerings include an all-male a cappella group, a magician, and staged readings of old Love Boat scripts. During the day, you can even skip class to lounge by the pool, located on deck 7.See the full trip overview for more information.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
When twin sisters Izzy and Coco Tihanyi decided to pursue a career that combined their passion for surfing and their love of the ocean, their calling came in the form of starting Surf Diva. Before long, they were on course to becoming a lauded school for coed surfers in California and Costa Rica. Augmenting the pair's teachings is their team of certified instructors, all graduates of their school's intensive training program and certified in CPR and first aid. Committed to their expertise in surfing, many of the instructors also hold down careers as firefighters, paramedics, and snowboarders, granting them the combined know-how to put out beach bonfires with a casual backflip.
The team's instruction ranges from coed group lessons and competitive coaching sessions to two- or five-day women’s weekend surf clinics. When they're not teaching surfing, crew members commit themselves to alternative teaching programs in yoga and standup paddleboarding, helping surfers to conquer the water with their bodies as well as with their very buoyant hearts. The twins' Costa Rica program also helps women and families hone boarding skills abroad while becoming fully immersed in the Costa Rican culture.
At La Jolla Shores, the ocean bottom slopes gently out to sea and the waves roll gently toward the beach, where seals can be found sleeping in the sun. This unique ecology makes the area an ideal entryway into the ocean, which the native La Jollan owners of La Jolla Kayak take full advantage of, leading kayaking excursions past the steep cliffs and through the secluded sea caves where humans first learned to douse fire. Alternatively, snorkel tours allow explorers to dive into the 6,000-acre Underwater Park to spy the leopard shark, garibaldi, and dolphins swimming underfoot. To facilitate journeys, La Jolla Kayak transports visitors' kayaks to the beach straight from its outfitting shop, which also houses complimentary lockers and rents out wetsuits to keep love-struck sea lions from slipping notes into divers' pockets.
Action water-sports shop Everyday California (formerly OEX), wrangles an experienced team of experts to escort patrons on kayak, surfing, and snorkeling tours. The shop as been lauded by publications including the Chicago Tribune for its exploration of the earth's watery expanses that offer glimpses of marine creatures such as sea turtles, sea lions, seals, dolphins, and cormorants. Kayak tours take paddlers out on a variety of adventures, including destinations such as seven sea caves, the paths of migrating gray whales, and underwater kelp forests. Everyday California also rents out kayaks, snorkel gear, surfboards, paddleboards, and saddles for baby belugas.