Travel Picks: Top 10 scenic workouts

Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:00am EDT
 
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - As spring begins to bloom, it's easy to suddenly remember the New Year's Resolutions made a few short months ago that have gone by the wayside.

Even if you've been good, upcoming "spring breaks" can wreak havoc on your hard work, with long days spent laying horizontal by a pool drinking calories.

Rather than only packing cover-ups and hats for your impending jaunts, how about some workout clothes? To help you find some spots that are both beautiful and conducive to exercise, the members and editors of travel website VirtualTourist.com (www.virtualtourist.com) have compiled a list of the "Top 10 Most Scenic Workouts." Reuters has not endorsed this list:

1. Hiking Cinque Terre in Italy

Italy has long been a bastion of cultural icons and landmarks, from religious sites to Renaissance masterpieces. Of the sites to be visited, Cinque Terre is among the most beautiful, and also the most unique. Composed of five small villages perched above the Ligurian Sea, the towns date back to the late medieval period and are still, in 2012, unable to be reached by car. While one can access them by train and boat, neither transport provides the same experience as the hike between the towns: slowly descending from the rocky cliffs into each brightly painted fishing village is an experience unlike any other in the world. Hiking from Riomaggiore, the southernmost village, to the fifth town, Monterosso, is quite a workout (18 km, or 11 miles, and usually takes about five hours, but can take longer depending on how fit you are). Instead, many complete the first leg of the trip, from Riomaggiore to Manarola. This section is commonly called the "Via dell' Amore" and is both paved and level, so it's a great 1 km (about half a mile) stroll for travelers of all ages.

2. Stand up paddle-boarding in Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai's abundance doesn't stop with its greenery and chickens; the island also provides ample opportunities for getting exercise while on vacation. Along the island's North Shore, adventurers can find the Kalalau Trail, an 11-mile route along the island's remote Na Pali Coast that is widely considered one of the world's scariest hikes. For a less dangerous athletic pursuit, visitors can try stand up paddle-boarding along the North Shore's gem, Hanalei Bay. Stand up paddle-boarding (also called SUP) has grown exponentially in the last few years, and it provides both a great arm workout and a fun alternative for when flat conditions ruin surfing plans. The bay is mostly flat during the summer, but has much stronger surf swells from September thru May, so keep this in mind when planning your activities.

3. Snorkeling in St. John's, US Virgin Islands

Few options are as convenient and cost-efficient for Americans as a quick trip to the US Virgin Islands, and equally rare are the options with the unbridled natural spectacle of St. John's. The island, accessible only by ferry, contains the Virgin Islands National Park, which encompasses 2/3 of the island's area. Visitors have over 35 beaches to choose from, including Trunk Bay, which has an underwater snorkeling trail that guides swimmers while informing them of the various species of fish. Other notable snorkeling spots on the isle are Hawknest Bay and Cinnamon Bay, which also has outstanding camping facilities. Sea turtles and rays can be found in Waterlemon Cay, accessible by the Leinster Bay Trail from the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins.   Continued...

 
Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy, in an undated photo. REUTERS/Holger Gester/Handout