Group travel packages may be convenient, but their focus on tourist-friendly activities can prevent you from truly sampling the local culture, and its enrapturing hatred of tourists. Booking you not-for-tourist tours: Vayable.
Just-launched by a pair of wanderlusty entrepreneurs, Vay's a travel experience marketplace where intrepid explorers -- and even you! -- can hook up with local expert guides offering intimate, "custom, authentic experiences". Some standout options:
Indonesia -- "Mentawai Surfing Adventure" (2-12 people): This two-week stint off the western coast of Sumatra jettisons you to a remote set of islands boasting some of the best waves on Earth, and includes lodging on the 80ft Oasis (so don't be surprised when the staff responds to your epic wipe-out with "Stop Crying Your Heart Out").
Fiji -- "Join a Local King On A Fishing Trip" (1-6): Before boarding his official boat to fish a rarely visited reef teeming with yellowfin tuna and Spanish mackerel (followed by snorkeling at a "local secret spot"), you'll have to present a formal offering of kava roots to the local chief, who likely requires its relaxing powers to feel better about having a bunch of a-holes on his boat.
Jamaica -- "Off the Beaten Path" (1-15): A personalized one or two-day trek that'll have you visiting everything from remote beaches and hot mineral springs, to music studios and a coffee farm, though the guide explains "you name it and it probably can happen", also true of any place they really hate tourists.
Published: May 3, 2011 at 4:00am EDT
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