With all the planes, trains and automobiles to choose from, sometimes we forget about the pleasure of boat rides. The very history of travel is indebted to seafaring voyagers who took to the rivers, lakes and high seas to open up the world. Colossal cruise ships aside, there are a myriad of vessels plying the world’s waterways that are as iconic and adventurous and as the destinations they explore. It’s not just where you go, but how you go can shape a journey and reward you with the most memorable experiences. Here are some amazing aqua-trips from all corners of the globe to to get you dreaming. You’re bound to find something that floats your boat.
1. Venice Gondola, Italy
Cheesy, slightly. Expensive, yes. But when in Venice you just have to take a gondola ride. Use the water-bus vaporetto for practical transportation around the Grand Canal, but take a traditional touristy gondola at least once. Go for the gusto with a gondolier in a striped shirt and straw hat singing O Sole Mio as you glide under the Bridge of Sighs. It’s a romantic way to embrace and explore the watery labyrinth of this sinking city.
2. Galapagos Cruise, Ecuador
From budget catamarans to mid-range yachts and luxury cruisers, there are a range of ways to sail around the Galapagos archipelago, often on 3, 5 or 8 day live-aboard excursions. Each island is unique and distinctive, some with bizarre flora and fauna that only exist there. Safely swim with sea lions, penguins and (gulp) even sharks. See the goofy mating dance of blue-footed boobies and the salty nasal spray of marine iguanas. These assorted curious creatures have no natural fear of man so you can get up close to appreciate them like no place else on earth. Tourist numbers are limited to protect this fragile ecosystem, and even the budget boats are pricey. However, it’s well worth the splurge.