Along an Australian riverbank, a baby calf is being born, opening its eyes to the world for the first time. Carolyn “Chick” Dowd floats just 6 feet away and watches silently as the events unfold. At this moment, she discovers for the first time the powerful experiences kayaking can opportune, and plunges headfirst into the sport. Since this moment, Ms. Dowd has worked as an instructor in Thailand, Nova Scotia, and California, where she is also a member of San Francisco's national kayak polo team.
It wasn't just a love for kayaking that led Ms. Dowd to overcome a human's natural tendency to melt in water. When younger, she dreamed of being Julie, the cruise director from Love Boat. To that end, Island Spirit Kayak is the junction of Ms. Dowd's passions; a place that mixes fun activities with the natural surroundings of her hometown, Martha's Vineyard. Here, Ms. Dowd and her team of ACA-certified instructors can lead tours into tranquil waters or more advanced excursions toward the Aquinnah Cliffs, where sunrises paint warm colors across the exposed clay.
From beginners to experts, Ms. Dowd and her crew cater tours to everyone. Before each trip, they help people belly flop out of their comfort zones with a game of kayak ultimate frisbee, during which many feel compelled to jump out of the boat. The staff—which includes a school teacher—also has a soft spot in their hearts for children, welcoming little ones as young as 5 into kayaks.
You're in the woods playing hide-and-seek. Tucked behind a log, you hear, "Ready or not, here I come!" and then wait for the sound of footsteps to trod past. The steps fade, and you break for base. But then the seeker closes in, but he doesn't need to get close enough to touch you—he just needs a clear shot to tag you with a paintball pellet.
Cape Cod Paintball's founders—friends who spent nearly a decade designing the facility's 14 outdoor fields—love to blend childhood games such as hide-and-seek with the grown-up thrill of paintball. Each course integrates both natural and artificial terrain—picture freestanding timber and brush piles juxtaposed against industrial cable spools, upturned sections of corrugated tubing, and wooden fence panels. Through this mash-up of cover, players split into teams for standard paintball games such as Capture the Flag, or more updated childhood games such as Cops and Robbers. Cape Cod Paintball's team also caters to group play with private parties, and mans a pro shop stocked with gear from brands such as Tippmann and Dangerous Power.
A United States Coast Guard-certified captain, Captain Cullen Lundholm honed his sea legs at a young age. His father was a commercial rod and reel fisherman, and Cullen quickly developed a passion for the sea and a fisherman’s intuition, which he taps into during Cape Star Charters’ watery excursions.
Captain Cullen has traveled the Eastern Seaboard and beyond, plucking fish from the waters of the Bahamas, the Gulf Stream, and Bermuda. But most days you can find him on his 26-foot Regulator Classic, steering his passengers through the Cape Cod waters intent on securing a memorable catch. Cullen equips his guests with Avet and Shimano reels and leads them to populated waters during half- or full-day excursions, where they can try their hand at catching Bluefin tuna, striped bass, fluke, and bonito. And since Cullen is on the water every fishable day from April through October, he has first-hand knowledge of where the fish are, what they are feeding on, and which fish are out visiting family at the aquarium.
At South Shore Equestrian Center, students of all skill levels trot atop well-trained steeds during private, semiprivate, and group lessons. Before lessons, an instructor pairs each student with an appropriate horse, usually the one that perches on the student's outstretched arm. Then, the instructor—who is licensed, insured, and possesses more than 20 years of experience—walks the class through the basics of horsemanship including feeding, handling, brushing and grooming, riding, jumping, and showing. Subsequent lessons delve deeper into different riding styles such as English hunt seat and Western horse thief.
South Shore Equestrian Center houses a riding ring, field, and sandy practice corrals to give students a more comprehensive and realistic sense of how it feels to ride. The training staff leads more advanced sessions for serious riders, as well as horse-lease programs and discounted practice ride sessions for students who wish to compete and travel without personally owning a horse.
You can find Skydive Barnstable by heading to the Cape Cod Airfield and looking straight up. Specializing in first-time adrenaline rushes, the company's experienced USPA-certified instructors perform tandem jumps with their eager students, leaping from a height of roughly two miles. After a short ground-training, both the jumper and instructor climb aboard the aircraft as friends, family, and crowds of airport-enthusiasts gather in the spectator's area. The plane climbs toward the clouds, revealing a stunning view of the Providence and Boston skylines and Cape Cod. After reaching jump altitude, the conjoined pair leap from the aircraft and freefall for 60 seconds at speeds of up to 120 miles per hour, before the parachute opens for a gentle, 5-7 minute coast back to solid ground. Optional video and photography services are available so that you can record and share your jump.
Staff Size: 2–10 people
Average Duration of Services: 2–4 hours
Brands Used: Ocean K, Old Town, Perception, Necky, Wilderness, and Bic.
From Tihonet Pond in Wareham or the sands of Onset Beach, paddlers push off into the beauty of the surrounding wilderness, navigating their kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards across the placid waters. Guided tours of Onset Bay lead kayakers through rivers, islands, hidden coves, and even fishing spots where those with licenses are free to cast their lines. Along the Weweantic and Sippican Rivers, tours present participants with the opportunities to get glimpses of local wildlife such as herons, egrets, and osprey.