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Hot Places

Just pick your poison and we've got the place to try it.

Diving > Channel Islands, Calif.

There’s no better place to explore the deep seas than California’s Channel Islands National Park and National Marine Sanctuary. Take Truth Aquatics’ multi-day dive excursions through the area, where the action begins long before you hit the water. Almost every morning, thousands of dolphins escort the 80-foot ship toward the five-island park. In the summer, the channel hosts roughly 10% of the world’s blue whale population, so divers have a chance to see the planet’s largest creature before getting their hair wet. And the view below the surface is no less dramatic: Snorkeling and diving visibility tops 100 feet, offering a clear view of 12-story kelp forests and more than 800 species of marine life.

Once a month owner Glen Fritzler captains the boat for an upscale Limited Load trip, where meals jump from good to great, including freshly speared yellowtail sashimi and filet mignon, and you’ll visit Wilson’s Rock to see anemone- covered pinnacles that peak within 25 feet of the water’s surface and drop steeply to more than 170 feet.

Three-day Limited Load trips cost $554; five-day trips are $906,

Heli-Hiking > British Columbia, Canada

There is no chauffeur service in the Columbia Mountains of British Columbia, but there’s no way you’ll miss your Town Car when you’re cruising above the trees in a Bell 212 helicopter. Canadian Mountain Holidays owns six lodges in the Columbias; each one has access to 600 square miles of mountains, glaciers, and pine forests. Clients spend their time chopper-hopping from one spectacular hike to the next, covering distances that would take days on foot.

On the new Epicurean Adventure with CMH, guests stay in the 10-room Valemount Lodge, and each day after breakfast, the group splits up according to desire and ability and flies to the “Ninth Hole,” a golf-green patch of grass where, across the valley, boxcar-size chunks of ice frequently calve off North Canoe Glacier and fall more than 1,000 feet to the ocean floor. Not that this hike is a walk in the park—far from it, in fact. A mountain goat trail leads to a 9,000-foot false summit and the next heli pickup, where guests fly to the glacier for an unroped hike. Day hikes end just in time for a dinner of lobster, ahi tuna ceviche, and wild-mushroom risotto made by an award-winning chef.

Trips start at $3,475, canadian

Mountain Biking > Northwest Arkansas

Our favorite place for fat-tire fun may be off the beaten path compared with popular mountain-biking destinations, but Arkansas is fast becoming one of the country’s greatest untapped mountain-bike meccas. Bentonville, Ark., is home to five miles of single-track and a new free-ride park. Trails of varying difficulty cut through the area’s forests, and within just an hour of town you’ll find more than 100 miles of sick single- track riding. Hot Springs, 250 miles southwest of Bentonville, is the gateway to the Ouachita National Forest, which has hundreds of miles of trails, including the 37-mile-long Womble, designated an International Mountain Biking Association “Epic Trail” for its 6,000 feet of climbing through dark forests and along bluffs with spectacular river views. Mountain View, 150 miles northeast of Hot Springs, emerged as a mountain-biking hot spot last year when the Syllamo Trail, a 50-mile “Epic Trail,” was finally completed. The bottom line: If you can’t find a trail you love here, you might as well trade in your bike.

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