Orkney, as it’s called by the locals, is an archipelago of 70 islands off the northern tip of the Scottish mainland. At one point or another, Vikings, Norwegians and Scots all listed the Old Red Sandstone outcrops as their home. The Neolithic monuments of these ancient inhabitants are one of Orkney’s biggest draws; another, of…
Hang your hat in Providence
The Dean is a harbinger of change in Providence, a taste of what’s happening with hotels in New York, Los Angeles and London. Mycah Hogan pops in for a visit — and a locally-roasted coffee — for our latest Stay.
Adrenaline in an Armchair Setting
The strenuous five-day hike on the Appalachian Trail that swallowed half of your vacation days didn’t feel like a vacation. Neither did the team building company rafting trip where you almost drowned. We like to carpe the diem as much as the next guy, but it’s okay to actually relax once in a while. This doesn’t have to mean standing in the buffet line on a Disney Cruise Line ship, but it does meaning choosing an adventure that combines immersion in the natural world with a little bit of everyman recreation. These three destinations are a good place to start.
121 Leagues South of Miami
Unlike Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac don’t have car dealerships, fancy restaurants, banks or clubs. The only company is the companion you flew in with, red-footed boobies, and disarmingly laid back residents who are quick to smile and even faster to offer help. Visit once and you’ll return for life.
Littler, but Just as Grand
A Caribbean island can be perfectly indulgent, but the trappings of modern resort life can also bring a modicum of staleness. That’s why you go the extra mile. Or, in the case of the Caymans, 60 miles. Just beyond Grand Cayman are the Sister Islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, both refreshingly Caribbean and just a puddle-jump away.
Davy Jones's (Dive) Locker
For centuries, man has found countless ways to send ships to the bottom of the sea. Since the advent of scuba technology, we’ve found ways to explore them. Whether it’s to search for booty, take eerie photos, or just to pay respects, wreck diving is a not a sport for the timid. Often found in deep, cold water with strong currents and dangerous reefs, wrecks demand expertise, experience, humility and marine-grade bronze balls — not to mention a lot of specialized gear. This isn’t tropical holiday diving, so be prepared to shell out for equipment that can stand up to the conditions the Gunilda, the Thistlegorm or the Doria present.
Two days of boozy exploration
Good weird beers tend to be the rare finds of the beer world, ones that get secreted away to age in dark cellars or traded with like-minded drinkers for other legendary brews. But every year craft fans get a chance to pay admission to a free-for-all zoo of the wildest ones, captured and served at the raucous drunken atmosphere of the Extreme Beer Festival in Boston, Mass.
F-Stop is a relative newcomer to the camera bag scene, and its St. Louis headquarters is incongruous with its focus on packs for mountain sports photography. But don’t let that fool you. Their packs show a design maturity that could only stem from experience and a smart use of user feedback. We tested both the light-and-fast Kenti ($249) and the sturdier, larger Satori EXP ($379) in conditions as varied as multi-day hikes in New Zealand and peak bagging in New Hampshire.
Taking the Alpha Out of Beta
Can a piece of luggage have a successor? Tumi, the venerable brand practically synonymous with domestic airports, believes it can with the release of the Alpha 2. The carry-on/check-in sequel incorporates a slew of improvements — ranging from overdue to practically invisible — in the gangbusters popular flagship line. Across its 30 improvements, the Alpha 2 boasts an impressive 14 patents. To test its mettle, we made our way to the Alpha 2’s arena: airports.
Shimmering a shade of blue clearly inspired by Caribbean waters, the Halios Tropik SS ($650) on my left wrist appears candy coated, looking infinitely more confident than I feel. A quick test of my regulator complete, I twist the Tropik’s unidirectional ceramic bezel to mark the beginning of this, my first real dive. I’m in the tropics to test this purpose-built diver on its home court.
Bringing wild shores to your mundane coffee table
Surf photographer Chris Burkard’s latest project is a 180-page hardcover with photos from diverse locations including Alaska, Chile, Iceland, India and Japan. These photos, which Burkard shared with GP, document his adventures traveling across the world as he captured photos of surfers and the natural world they inhabit.
13 Mile Chill
The sky is a slate gray on the cruise up I-95 to Hampton Beach, NH. I left Boston to catch a glimpse of a handful of New England’s athlete-contrarians, people who spend the summer dreaming of frigid waters, storms and angry seas. They’re winter surfers — and this is their season.
A boutique hotel in SoHo, NYC
Like other cosmopolitan cities with a rich history, New York has as many layers as the Yemeni dessert Bint Al Sahn, as many nuances as Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations, the subtleties of a Montrachet. In other words: it’s difficult to navigate. The difference between a quiet morning of coffee and pastry or getting steamrolled by a group of shopping teens could be one block. And that’s why you’ll want to know about The Broome, a boutique hotel in a SoHo brownstone.
Welcome to the Jungle
Ka’ana is a boutique resort, but rather than catering to those who like to sit by a pool all day with umbrella drinks, it encourages its guests to leave every day. Don’t get us wrong, there is a pool, and if you want an umbrella drink, it can be arranged. But Belize is a country ripe for adventure, and Ka’ana wants to be your (very luxurious) base camp.
A caving expedition in Belize
We’d been underground for five hours, as deep as 600 feet below the surface of the jungle in a cave the Belizeans call the Mountain Cow Cave. The cavern has been rebranded for tourists as the more picturesque-sounding Crystal Cave, though few tourists make it here. Unlike the more famous and accessible Actun Tunichil Muchnal cave, which sees thousands of visitors per year, Crystal Cave only sees a few hundred, most only peeking into its impressive foyer. I could see why. It was not for the faint of heart.
An Offshore Account
After a long and fairly uneventful dive on an unnamed reef out in South Water Caye, I clambered aboard Splash Belize’s dive boat, shed tanks and weights and stripped off my wetsuit. The big diesels rumbled to life and Captain Malcolm steered toward a small island in the distance. As we drew closer, I could make out a few small panga boats and some activity on the beach. Then came a distinctive smell: barbecue.
The Road is Life
From the Archives: With age comes the ability to do a long highway cruise better than we ever could as a youngster. Summer’s right around the corner, so we’ve compiled above all the gear you’ll need to make new memories on the road. Get what you need and hit the road, Jack. Grab the wheel and point it west, take a buddy and leave the rest.
Climbing Mountains Beyond Mountains
Despite Haiti’s reputation for danger, it’s a beautiful and inspiring country for the intrepid traveler. Although tourism in the country has been slow to rebound since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Haiti offers an opportunity for those with the right set of skills to get involved with humanitarian work while seeing an infrequently visited part of the world. During our recent visit, we got by on Pepto and grit, and a few other things besides: we found all of the above useful, if not downright necessary.
Big Races, Fat Bikes
Fat bike races are a great tool for carrying fitness into the winter, building your base for the coming year, or letting out your inner nutso cyclist. During some of the longer hauls, riders should expect to carry everything from sleeping bags and tents to locator beacons and cooking infrastructure. Just a few years ago your race options were limited, but the rapid growth in the category has created a number of race options and formats to choose from. Here are some of our favorites.
The Iditarod, by Bicycle.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational (ITI) is the world’s longest winter ultramarathon by mountain bike, foot and ski. It follows the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, AK, over the Alaska Range to McGrath and on to Nome. If you like to run and ride in severe winter conditions and sleep outside in the frozen tundra, then this is the race for you.
The Mountain Series ~ Part I of III
From the Archives: The rotor wash from a Bell 212 helicopter is startlingly strong. Though I was getting used to the pick up and drop off routine — kneel, huddle together, cover your face — every time the helicopter landed I was nearly blown off my feet. Peering out the side window as we lifted straight up from a postage-stamp-sized rock atop a peak called “Kickoff”, I noticed that getting blown over here would have meant a very long fall. Note to self: don’t be the guy at the back of the huddle.
Love Knows No Boundaries
The argument has sound logic: your wife was technically on vacation when she came along to provide support during your last attempt at Leadville. She used up her vacation time, after all, and you did book a couples massage. But there’s nothing romantic or decent about compression socks and 3 a.m. wake-up calls. You’ve got to take a real vacation. We’ve got three suggestions for romantic destinations that may not have been on your list.
Insight from our man on the ground
I’m in Sochi this week, and guess what? I haven’t been blown up, my phone hasn’t been hacked, my hotel room is quite nice and the water from the taps isn’t brown. Instead I’ve seen some amazing athletes doing some amazing things on the ice and snow and had my preconceptions sincerely rattled.
To Russia We Fly
Packing for a trip to Russia for the Sochi Olympics is no small feat. There’s weather, international travel, technology and a desire to stay light on our feet to consider. Gear needs to be tough, functional, lightweight and understated. Here’s a sampling of what we’re packing to use on a normal day in Sochi.
You might think: packing for the Sundance Film Festival, all I need are my spectacles, some comfy corduroys and a family box of Goobers chocolate-coated peanuts. That might be fine if you’re heading to Smitty’s Cinema in Tilton, NH, to watch That Awkward Moment with your friend Dennis, but not for America’s premiere independent film festival. This is Sundance, baby. This is A-list. This is Redford country. We had boots on the ground this year, and we packed to work remotely, hit Main Street in (relative) style and take the edge off back at the condo.
Precious metals, mountain gem
Park City’s reputation as a winter resort is outsized: It was the home of skiing and snowboarding events during the 2002 Winter Olympics in nearby Salt Lake City; it remains the training grounds for the United States Ski Team; and it plays host to the Sundance Film Festival. We came for the latter, but we found an idyllic mountain town where the sun shines almost every day, an unironic trolley rambles along Main Street and beautiful women wear leggings and fur vests. Need a little help planning a long weekend there? We’ve got you covered.
Be Safe and Have Fun
You’re going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and you’re going to be fine. Still, you should always reduce risk. The following tips minimize your exposure to terrorist activity and will also offer protection against criminal elements during your stay.
Because You Can't Bobsled 24/7
When the Winter Olympics kick off on February 7th, we’ll have a correspondent on the ground, leaving the rest of us at the GP HQ to wonder why we can’t take a week off to watch sports, while the weather in Russia — Russia! — is warmer than New York City. We’re not bitter. In fact, to keep him safe, entertained and entirely prepared we’ve put together a quick pocket guide to Sochi.
Cold weather, cold smoke, cold beers.
Most of us calculate Paid Time Off based on formulas that are too sad to enumerate. Suffice it to say those hours rarely add up to week-long ski vacations at our leisure. But parse them out just so and you can be taking long weekends whenever the heavens open up. Make the most of it by choosing mountain resorts with bankable terrain and close proximity to an airport — like any of these 10 world-class ski areas.
Outdoor adventure in Kyrgyzstan
Combine partial nudity and breathtaking landscapes and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty good movie; throw in world-class alpinist Kyle Dempster, a bicycle and the Kyrgyzstan wilderness, well, then you get an unexpected and touching adventure film. Dempster set out in 2011 for a six-week trip in the Central Asian country, armed with a bicycle for transportation and a bag of climbing gear for soloing unclimbed alpine rock and mixed routes. The result is an award-winning film, The Road from Karakol, that’s raw, funny and insightful.