PHOTO: rock climbing couple. (Photo via Flickr/Ruth Hartnup)
It’s as if Mother Nature had couples in mind when creating fascinating nooks, crannies, summits and subsurface landscapes that unite with pure adrenaline.
Pairs who covet natural highs and heart-racing adventures are in for a bevy of options that merge a scenery rush with white-knuckle physical challenges. Even those preferring to dial it down a notch are equally engaged.
1) Paddle Along Kauai’s Napali Coast
The Napali Coast on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai is nothing short of spectacular, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more intimate way to experience this bliss than by a full-day kayak excursion. Kayak Kauai shares the extreme action along the drop-dead gorgeous 17-mile water route launching from legendary Hanalei and ending at Polihale Beach.
Along the way, pairs paddle beyond the verdant valley of Kalalau, past the arches of Honopu, near cascading waterfalls and into the azure waters of a volcanic sea cave. Just past the midway point, guides and paddlers stop at secluded Mololii Beach to refuel with lunch, visit an ancient Hawaiian fishing shrine, beachcomb and refresh for the second half of the trek.
This summer kayaking adventure requires you to pack both your grit and guts since the demands are both physically and mentally challenging, but it’s hard to beat the rush.
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2) Play In The Tahoe Snow
Located mid-mountain at Northstar California Resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has launched its year-round Après Adventurist program curating both winter and summer recreation. The Apres Adventurist Winter Package appeals with a bevy of perks allowing couples to transition from a heart-pumping day on the slopes to the warm, cozy atmosphere in their suite or guestroom.
Aside from primo downhill runs, Northstar’s winter wonderland thrillers include a private heli-skiing/snowboarding experience on remote vistas of the nearby Ruby Mountains, dogsled tours and snowshoe full moon hikes.
3) Hike Through The Appalachian Wilderness
The only North American company to win the REI Top Guide Award in 2014, A Walk in the Woods was also the first-ever guide service to operate in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Guides Vesna and Erik Plakanis take diehard couples along four-day intensive adventure trips on the Appalachian Trail, as well as off-trail outback bushwhacking adventures amid 900 miles of trails – some that are totally pristine and hidden in the mountains off the radar of other extreme adventure addicts.
Dedicated to raising environmental awareness through direct, positive experiences with nature, the company’s tours unfold to such photo ops as gentle cascades, tumbling waterfalls, majestic ancient forests, crystal clear mountain streams, old home sites, graveyards or hidden trails.
The company’s two-night Smoky Mountain Survival Trip option immerses couples into a total bushwhacking experience relying on primitive survival skills—everything from making fire by friction to foraging for edible plants and orienteering. It’s a great way for couples to bond with each other on a journey led by an avid hiking duo that also happens to be married.
4) Glide Above It All At Torrey Pines
Considered one of the most popular coastal soaring sites in the U.S., Torrey Pines Gliderport invites pairs to hang glide or paraglide tandem style off the gorgeous Pacific bluffs of La Jolla, California, Coast just north of San Diego. Paragliding is more prevalent of the two, especially since it’s a more comfortable flight that can be operated in a more diverse range of conditions.
While each will have to pair up with an instructor, it still delivers an ultimate couple’s rush that can be extended even afterward at the gliderport’s Cliffhanger Café. Whether gliding or spectating as adrenaline addicts launch right in front of the al fresco dining area, the experience provides plenty of thrills. In fact, those opting out of gliding see much of the same scenery as gliders witness—scenic ocean bluffs, Black’s Beach 350-feet below, seasonal whales, dolphins and gorgeous Pacific waters.
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5) Zip Through Ponderosa Pines
In Flagstaff, Arizona, couples can bond while soaring through the Ponderosa pine tree canopy and take their love to new heights on the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Zip Line Course. Opening in December 2016, the newbie will reopen this summer to embrace rush seekers with its network of 30 ziplines that zigzag through Fort Tuthill County Park as it sends participants deeper and higher into the surrounding forest.
While the bulk of this aerial trek cruises through the air high above the forest floor, riders also climb seven ladders and traverse eight bridges to reach zipline takeoff platforms. The new course joins a second course that offers more than 70 aerial challenges divided into five difficulty levels, thus presenting a true challenge for hardcore couples that want to tackle a mother lode of tests in a single day.
6) Go Over-the-Top With Fitness At Montage Deer Valley
Couples visiting Montage Deer Valley can jet off for the ultimate outdoor adventure with the resort’s Montage Expedition program to Utah’s National Parks.
With three different all-inclusive experiences to choose from—including Montage to Moab, Montage to Zion and Montage to Bryce Canyon—pairs unite when they fly off to their National Park of choice by private plane, receive a private mountain biking or hiking tour from one of the resort’s Compass Sports Tour Guides, savor a chef-prepared gourmet lunch, and enjoy transportation to and from the resort.
7) Rock Climb In Carefree
With its dramatic desert rock landscape and exceptional array of services, The Boulders Resort & Spa in Carefree, Arizona has long been considered an inspirational setting for couples. Within its 1,300-acre resort grounds, the desert hideaway offers a host of outdoor adventures transcending traditional resort activities.
The Boulders’ professional guides teach rock climbing clinics covering “crack” and “face” techniques for adventurous souls who love sharing a challenge. The resort’s two carefully selected routes are ideal for newbies as well as those with climbing experience under their belts.
Pairs can also try their hands at rappelling from the base of a waterfall cascading over ancient rock formations near the resort’s Main Lodge. It all adds up to testing skills, pushing one another and ending with memories that bring people closer together.
8) Feed Alligators In A Louisiana Swamp
Sweethearts visiting New Orleans can escape that city’s high-energy urban vibe to join one of Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell, Louisiana. Focusing on the state’s more natural side, tours travel to some of the richest wildlife stretches of Pearl River and Honey Island within the safe confines of a swamp boat.
Resident and migratory wildlife include alligators, bald eagles, waterfowl, herons, egrets, ibis, owls, osprey, deer, feral hogs, nutria, raccoon, otter, beaver, mink, turtles and frogs, but the focus is on the gators, naturally, as passengers can feed these swamp dwellers their favorite treat of marshmallows. The two-hour guided journey is a delight for couples wishing to walk on the wild side and take in the breathtaking scenery of Louisiana’s fascinating swamps.
9) Action “On The Rocks” Olympic Style
The Olympic Sports Complex at Lake Placid, New York is a study in extremes. Pairs into upping their pulse rate can tap into thrills along the combined bobsled, luge and skeleton track – the only one east of the Rockies – as well as 31 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and a biathlon shooting range.
Other eventful options include cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Mt. Van Hoevenberg, snowmobiling along groomed and backcountry trails, or taking it vertical with a challenging 1,000-foot climb up a sheer ice wall. Also, count on plenty of events, festivals and entertainment to liven up the energy.