Tobacco Caye, Belize
For years people have flocked to Belize to snorkel and dive the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. However, the best way to see Belize may not be under the water but on top of it — on a standup paddleboard. Island Expeditions offers an island-to-island trip through South Water Caye Marine Reserve — a weeklong tour that crisscrosses mangroves and cays amid a UNESCO World Heritage–designated barrier reef. You fly into Belize City and are shuttled via boat 10 miles out to a resort at Tobacco Caye. A brief clinic will get you up to speed on how to pivot turn, complete efficient forward strokes (harder than you think), and pop between square and surf stances. Then it's five days of paddling. (A boat follows behind, carrying your luggage and supplies.) You'll stay in rustic but comfortable cabanas built over the water and spend your downtime snorkeling among spotted eagle rays and nurse sharks, and eating dinners of fresh lobster (six nights, $1,829).
Once you're comfortable on a board, Slickrock Adventures will teach you how to ride waves on a three-night surf trip out of Long Caye, a private island in Glover's Reef Marine Reserve. "We're one of the easternmost islands in Belize, and when the swell hits the island, it makes a peeling four-to-six-foot right," says owner Cully Erdman. He's got 16 cabanas and exclusive access to the country's most reliable break. By trip's end, you'll be ripping ($1,350).
Getting there: Daily nonstop flights from Houston, Miami, and Atlanta.