Best summertime adventures in the Pacific Northwest

By Eric Wright

With summer in full swing and Mother Nature in all its glory, its time to get a little dirt on those boots and make some lifelong memories adventuring in the great outdoors. From soaring mountains and pristine lakes to majestic wildlife and adrenaline-pumping recreational activities, the Pacific Northwest has it all. Check out these six unforgettable experiences, and have yourself an exhilarating vacation in this majestic part of the world.

1. Run and hike the majestic Mt. Rainier

Rising into the heavens at an incredible 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the largest glacial system and the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, offering a rich diversity of wildlife; fields upon fields of beautiful wildflowers; and, of course, jaw-dropping vistas.

Fitness fanatics can get their blood pumping by heading out on a run on part of the 93-mile Wonderland Trail, which winds its way around the snow-capped volcano. The fabled Skyline Trail is also a favorite among visitors, as the 1,400-foot elevation gain showcases sublime views of the Tatoosh Range and the Cascades.

Relax after a thrilling day of exploration at your own little slice of heaven: this tiny house that's just over an hour from Mount Rainier National Park!

2. Whale watching from the San Juan Islands

Set sail on a once-in-a-lifetime quest to spot fascinating creatures, such as magnificent orca whales, playful seals, and regal eagles, by taking a day boat trip from Vancouver around the gorgeous San Juan and Orcas Islands.

With whale-spotting success rates of up to 90%, these tours last from three to five hours, going into the Strait of Georgia and around the Gulf Islands, and allow intrepid travelers the chance to get a real insight into the native marine wildlife from the hand of experienced guides.

Stay on nearby Mayne Island, and soak up even more nature from right outside the front door at this dreamy cottage.

3. Whitewater rafting near Mt. Hood National Forest

Surrounded by 11 glistening glaciers, the year-round snowy peak of Mount Hood in Oregon is a hiker's paradise. The pristine rivers flowing down from the rugged peaks, however, offer a unique way for visitors to take in the lush Pacific Northwest wilderness.

Companies, like Wet Planet Whitewater, offer spectacular day excursions on the rapids during summer—both on the Columbia River Gorge and the West Fork and Main sections of the Hood River.

Take a different kind of dip by hopping into your own wood-fired bathtub secluded in nature at this
romantic retreat near Mount Hood!

4. Take a cruise from Seattle

For those wanting to get out on the water, one of the best options in the PNW is to set sail from the Emerald City, and enjoy the serene views of the stunning 542-acre Discovery Park—all before venturing into the Olympic Mountains for some epic hiking trials with spectacular scenery.

Since Washington's Olympic National Park overlooks the Pacific Ocean, there are endless sandy beaches, magical rainforests, and native wildlife to be discovered. At the end of an active day outdoors, what could be better than heading back to your own secluded getaway near the Hoh Rainforest?

You may never want to leave this incredible tiny house in the Olympic National Park.

5. Go zip-lining on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island boasts a raw, ocean-carved landscape that is surrounded by snowcapped mountains, zig-zagging coastline, and rich wilderness—the ideal spot to have the adventure of a lifetime. Apart from unforgettable experiences, such as whale spotting, this pristine area of British Columbia is also ideal for some truly electrifying aerial pursuits. Why not head over to Adrena Line, on the south side of the island, for a rip-roaring day of zip-lines up to 1,000 feet high?

Take a much neeed rest at your own private suite—complete with Jacuzzi tub—near Victoria.

6. Hike and kayak the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Sprawling millions of acres across Washington, the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a prime location for those looking to immerse themselves in ancient forests and vibrant wilderness. With great hiking, running, and mountain biking trails, those looking for adventure have found their ideal playground. There are also fantastic opportunities for fishing, horseback riding, and climbing in the park, while taking a kayak out on Lake Wenatchee is a serene experience, surrounded by awesome peaks, and one not to be missed.

Get ready to fire up the grill and enjoy some tasty homemade burgers after a full day of activities with a stay at this log cabin in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Want to keep exploring the PNW? Check out our favorite unique weekend trips in the Pacific Northwest to get some inspiration for yours!

Costa Vicentina: A hidden surfers' paradise in Portugal

By Fred Jéquier

Photo from cEkonomista.

Every year, surfers across Europe flock to some of the most popular surf spots in the continent. Usual suspects include Biarritz in France; San Sebastian in northern Spain, Sennen Cove in Cornwall, England, and Peniche in Portugal. If you're looking for somewhere new to ride some waves this summer, look no further. The stunning Costa Vicentina is where you should be looking. This incredible coastline—rich in history, culture, and, of course, waves—has numerous beaches that are perfect for a summer surfing adventure.

Where is Costa Vicentina?

Costa Vicentina is set in the incredible Alentejo and Algarve regions of Portugal. Part of a natural park that starts further north and runs from the fishing village of Burgau in the south to Odeceixe Beach, Costa Vicentina is the longest stretch of protected Portuguese coast, with beaches as far as the eye can see.

This area of preserved nature has breathtaking, rugged character that is different to other parts of southwestern and southern Portugal. Heading west from Lagos, you'll leave the picturesque caves and coves behind you and will soon find yourself amid vast, empty swathes of sand or tiny, inaccessible beaches—perfect for the more adventurous surfer, as they are continually hammered by the full force of the Atlantic Ocean.

History of the region

Costa Vicentina has a rich history that precedes its current role as a surfers' paradise. Cape St. Vincent, the most south-western point in Europe, has religious traditions that stretch as far back as the Ancient Greeks, who called it the Land of the Serpents, and the Romans, who considered the horizon beyond which the sun set sacred, referred to it as Promontorium Sacrum, which means Holy Promontory, and is the Latin origin of the coastal town of Sagres.

The Romans saw the cape as the end of the world, where the sun would be submerged each day into the endless ocean—a belief that some still clung to during the medieval period. Skip forward to the 15th century, and Costa Vicentina became an increasingly important area during the European age of discovery.

Photo from Lisbon Tourism.

Prince Henry the Navigator (1394-1460), the fourth child of King John I of Portugal, and the Governor of the Algarve, dedicated his life to furthering Portugal's early voyages of discovery and founded the School of Navigation in Sagres. He also oversaw the creation of caravels—ships that were faster and lighter than their predecessors, as well as highly maneuverable, which was perfect for exploring the African coast line and going into the Atlantic.

The Fortaleza, or fortress on the headland above Sagres, located on a dramatic, narrow headland that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, may well have been where Henry's School of Navigation was based, he certainly spent a good amount of time there planning his voyages. Nowadays, it's a must-see for tourists. This windswept spot overlooks the ocean, with incredible coastal views.

Top surfing spots

The Costa Vicentina has a plethora of beaches for you to choose from, each different to the last. Whether you're a beginner, or an advanced surfer used to charging waves as tall as houses, you are bound to find a beach that suits your needs when you head to this unique coastline. Here are just a few of our favorites!

1. Arrifana Beach

Half way between Praia de Odeceixe and Sagres, this crescent-shaped beach is perfect for surfers of any level. Beginners can make the most of the slightly slower waves at high tide, and those with more experience can head out at low tide for the faster waves. On days with a good swell, the beach can have a lot of visitors, but this is a great spot for both surfing, and relaxing. The town has a variety of restaurants and bars for when you've built up an appetite carving the waves.

2. Amado Beach

A 25-minute drive from Sagres, the waves that roll into Amado Beach are not reliant on the tides, making it the perfect spot for surfers all year round. One of the most consistent surfing spots in the area, it is open to all Atlantic swells, and as a protected area, it's not built-up, allowing you to enjoy a secluded, peaceful beach. If you're planning on visiting this stunning bit of coastline, you'll be able to find a place to stay in Sagres, or even Lagos, which is just 40 minutes away.

3. Castelejo Beach

Just 12 kilometers from Sagres, Castelejo Beach can be affected by westerly winds, meaning that in the summer months, the waves are conducive to anyone who wants to learn how to surf from scratch. Meanwhile, in autumn, the beach can come into contact with some fairly strong Atlantic swells that create world-class waves—perfect if you're a seasoned surfer.

4. Beliche Beach

Even closer to Sagres than Castelejo Beach⁠—a 10-minute drive in fact⁠—Beliche Beach is surrounded by large cliffs, creating a stunning spot to get in some surfing. The waves are at their best here either side of the main summer months, and they are perfect for intermediate to advanced surfers to enjoy.

5. Zavial Beach

Just east of Sagres, Zavial Beach is one of the first major surfing beaches when you enter the Costa Vicentina—and one of the best-known. With fast waves that are enhanced by strong winds, it gets good swells that are great for beginner and intermediate surfers. On days when there is a lull and the waves are not at their best, the beach itself is a stunning spot to relax or swim.

Surf schools

If you've never been surfing before, but fancy having a go at it while visiting the Costa Vicentina, we've got some suggestions of surfing schools that'll help you on your way to becoming the next Kelly Slater.

1. Boa Onda Surf School

The Boa Onda Surf School has a great reputation. Set just a 10-minute drive from the town of Aljezur, Boa Onda Surf School has classes throughout the year, with prices ranging from 35€ for half a day or a five-day course that costs 225€ in high season. They also have options for a residential course, and you can rent all the necessary equipment from the school, so you don't need to invest in a pricey new board and wetsuit.

2. Odeceixe Surf School

Founded in 2008, the Odeceixe Surf School is set close to the beach and has a small team of experienced instructors. For a day's class in high season, it'll set you back 60€, and up to five days will cost 250€. Typically, one class will get you between three and four hours in the water with an instructor.

The price doesn't just cover your lesson, though. You will get the use of a board and wetsuit, transport to beaches only locals know about, and even sports insurance—along with a comprehensive guide in dangers, such as rips, currents, and how to safely paddle in and out of the surf.

3. Mission To Surf

With more than 20 years experience, Mission To Surf will make the impossible possible. Set in Palmeirinha, and with surf classes for beginners to advanced surfers, Mission To Surf has something for everyone. A beginner course will place you in a class of no more than eight students, so you can be sure of maximum supervision from your instructor. A week-long course costs 250€ in high season and 200€ in the low season, with classes typically lasting four hours. You can also opt for one-on-one classes for an hour, which 55€ for the first hour, with the option of a second hour for an additional 28€.


Keep exploring the incredible beauty of Portugal with a stay at one of our amazing accommodations!