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Embrace the best of summer with these elevated outdoor experiences

Idyllic summer weather provides an irresistible backdrop as you find your next memorable outdoor adventure. | By Paul Oswell | June 1, 2023

Summer sunshine is on the horizon, so it’s time to experience some bucket list outdoor activities. Whether it’s lounging on a private yacht, enjoying a beachside picnic, kayaking on crystal-clear waters or hiking scenic trails, these memorable destinations are ideal for elevated outdoor excursions. Consider:

  • Charismatic Koh Samui: Dive into island life and see the spectacular Gulf of Thailand from a traditional wooden yacht

  • Suave Santa Monica: Some of North America’s best beaches await you, as well as hiking trails with mesmerizing views

  • Amazing Algarve: One of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful regions boasts national parks, rare wildlife and world class wines

Couple at Botanikka eco cafe in Koh Samui
Dine amongst inspired surroundings at Botanikka, Conrad Koh Samui’s indoor-outdoor eco-cafe and garden.

Koh Samui, Thailand

Located in the beautiful Gulf of Thailand, the island of Koh Samui has a diverse topography, with its palm-framed sands, coconut groves and lush, mountainous rainforest. Simply sunbathe at one of the many beautiful beaches or enjoy one of the outdoor experiences available for the ultimate adventure vacation in Asia.

There are plenty of swimming and snorkeling options at Chaweng, Lamai and Bo Phut beaches, but for more curious marine explorers, there’s the 42 islands and 35 square miles (90 square kilometers) of the Ang Thong National Marine Park to tour. Sea kayakers and divers love its spectacular limestone cliffs, waterfalls and hidden coves. Consider snorkeling in style by chartering a classic Thai wooden yacht, taking in the waters en route to Koh Rap Island. Experience the unspoiled beauty of your surroundings and spot the local deer before reboarding to savor a freshly prepared Thai meal.

Perched on a secluded hill overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, Conrad Koh Samui features an array of exclusive on-site outdoor experiences for guests. Join a complimentary yoga class or enjoy kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on the private beach, explore the coral reef and tropical fish at their Diving and Sailing Center or have the concierge arrange a sunset yacht excursion.

Budding botanists will love a tour of the hotel’s onsite, organic Iris farm, which is integral to their commitment to sustainability and produces many of the fruits and vegetables used in the hotel’s restaurants and bars. Their eco-cafe and garden, Botanikka, produces micro greens for the property’s outlets and even features a secret room where oyster mushrooms are grown.

The hotel can also arrange an island-hopping tour on a traditional fisherman’s longtail boat to scenic Pig Island where you can swim with friendly wild pigs — truly a story and an experience that will stay with you long after your trip ends. Cap off your stay by dining alfresco with an intimate meal on the hotel’s pier or beach, accompanied by the sounds of the ocean and a bottle of sparkling wine.

Two women riding bikes near a beach
 Picturesque beaches provide a stunning backdrop to Santa Monica’s plethora of outdoor experiences.

Santa Monica, California

Located on one of the most desirable stretches of the Southern Californian coastline, this sophisticated resort town is made for lovers of the outdoors. The idyllic year-round climate provides an alluring backdrop for a wealth of activities, as well as alfresco dining that celebrates the abundant fresh local produce. With some 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) of beaches, Santa Monica is an elegant coastal city with a laid-back Californian vibe.

The Santa Monica Mountains are home to spectacular hiking trails that boast unforgettably scenic views of the Pacific Ocean. They enjoy a Mediterranean microclimate, and the trails cater to everyone from casual strollers to serious hikers. One of the most popular trails is the Solstice Canyon Loop, a 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) hike that’s manageable enough for you to bring along canine companions. Santa Monica also has more than 500 miles (804 kilometers) of horse trails, most of which are situated in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

If you love equestrian activities head for the Los Angeles Horseback Riding Ranch at the top ridge of the Santa Monica Mountains. It connects Topanga and Malibu, and you’ll love the breathtaking 80-mile (128-kilometer) views in every direction.

For ground-level exploration, Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts offers surf lessons as well as complimentary oceanfront yoga and beach cruiser bikes, so you can use pedal power to visit the Santa Monica Pier and the nearby sun-soaked beaches. If you want to relax after your bike ride, the property has a dedicated beach butler who can set up a private sunset or daytime picnic on the sands, with culinary treats and luxurious daybeds. The concierge team can also arrange one-of-a-kind excursions including a helicopter ride or private yacht charter.

Golf Course Vale do Lobo
The dedicated golf concierge at Conrad Algarve can arrange for a day on the green at one of the region’s finest courses.

Algarve, Portugal

The southern coast of Portugal is a seductive region for outdoor experiences, blessed as it is with golden sandy beaches, evocative fishing villages and its famed, world-class golf courses. The beautiful blue waters are irresistible, and you can discover the biodiversity of one of Portugal’s natural wonders with a guided tour in a catamaran through the channels of nearby Ria Formosa channels with a private guide. They can educate you on the history of Faro while pointing out the local wildlife and birdwatching.

You can also navigate the waters of the Ria Formosa Natural Park on a traditional wooden fishing boat and fish as you go. The calm waters of the lagoon are an ideal spot to bask in the stunning surrounding scenery. For a slightly more active excursion, join your guide on stand-up paddleboards to see flamingos, storks, herons and exotic purple gallinules.

There are yet more memorable outdoor experiences to be found at Conrad Algarve. The hotel can arrange for a local fisherman to take you clam-picking followed by a trip to the oyster bank where you can enjoy oysters with a curated selection of local white wines. The property can also organize an eco-bike tour through the Ria Formosa Natural Park, across romantic sand dunes and photogenic saltwater marshes.

For a glamorous outdoor adventure, it’s hard to beat a private yacht charter. Conrad Algarve’s Sunseeker 47 is a chic vessel that cruises around the coastline and desert islands with style. Back on land, connect with the hotel’s golf concierge to arrange an outing to any of the six world-class golf courses within 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) of the property.

Stunning scenery, pristine beaches and exclusive excursions await in these ideal destinations for elevated outdoor experiences. Discover something new and explore local cultures to make memorable moments that will last a lifetime.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.