Though Belize is best known for its biologically diverse, 190-mile-long barrier reef—which is accessed by snorkeling and diving along the country’s countless cayes and atolls—its most dramatic underwater show may come each spring, when massive, 60-foot-long whale sharks migrate en masse to Gladden Spit during full moons to feed on spawning tropical fish. These are the most predictable whale shark visits on Earth and your best chance to swim within arm’s reach of these elusive, gentle giants.
La Grange, WI
One of the oldest ultramarathons in the U.S., the Ice Age 50 is still one of the hardest as well, with roughly 4,000 feet of climbing over relentlessly rolling—and relentlessly beautiful—glaciated terrain in the 18,000-acre Southern Unit of Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest. It’s a visceral geology lesson as you chase the sport’s elites through pine and hardwood forests over moraines, eskers, and kames. If that gives you cold feet, there are 50K and half-marathon options, too.
Kick off cycling season with a kick in the ass, courtesy of this rough-and-tumble pro-am race. It rolls through upstate dairy country, crisscrossing the scenic Battenkill River over covered bridges, railroad crossings, and no fewer than eight bone-rattling stretches of rugged dirt road totaling 15 of its 68 miles. In the tradition of all great spring classics, it’ll deftly break in both yourbike and your body—that is, if it doesn’t break them first.
Half the fun of this race is not knowing the course—competitors are handed maps shortly before the start—and the other half is running, paddling, mountain biking, and otherwise exploring one of Michigan’s most beautiful natural areas, Ludington State Park. While you have to be fast to beat the 10-hour cutoff, careful navigation is key to keeping this 60-mile adventure from turning into a 70-plus-mile slog.
Waimea Bay, HI
Before it became the nation’s coolest new water sport, stand-up paddleboarding (or SUP) was simply Laird Hamilton with a canoe paddle, propelling himself around Maui on a tandem surfboard. Channel that history at this hotly contested four-mile race from nearby Oahu’s gorgeous Waimea Bay to Haleiwa’s legendary Surf N Sea shop. Even if you don’t win—which is likely, given the locals’ prowess—you’ll enjoy waters so clear you can spot sea turtles on the reefs beneath you.