Yes, cageless shark diving is a thing. As is moonlight ziplining and skateboarding on water, aka flyboarding.
All around North America, the variety of coastal adventures available to groups offers intriguing diversions from the confines of a meeting room.
Dive With the Sharks and Other Marine Life in Oahu
Of the multitude of water sports across the islands of Hawaii, One Ocean Diving on the North Shore of Oahu features a cageless shark dive, starting with safety tips and a 15-minute trip out to the snorkel site.
On the ride out, a marine biologist and divemaster educate participants about shark behavior, biology, physiology and the organization’s current research, as well as how to safely interact with sharks.
Information covered includes which species of sharks, whales and sea turtles can be seen.
Attendees also learn about the significance of sharks in Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, as well as how to contribute or support the organization’s shark ID program and conservation efforts.
The boats have a maximum capacity of six guests per charter but there are usually multiple vessels available departing within half an hour of each other. The participants rotate their time in the water.
“Once you come back onboard, you will likely have a completely different view of sharks, a realistic one and most likely a calmness and excitement about just how incredible they are,” said a company spokesperson.
A highlight of the program is to be able to talk to the experts in their field. After everyone has at least two rotations, the boats head back, keeping an eye out for other marine life. There is an option to stop by a turtle cleaning station, where participants can see up to 15 turtles getting cleaned by small fish.
Take Surfing Lessons in Huntington Beach
Outdoor sporting fans can also explore a variety of options in Huntington Beach, Calif.
“As a destination highlighted by 10 miles of uninterrupted beach coastlines, premier oceanfront accommodations and a vibrant restaurant scene, we thrive on providing the ideal coastal experience for any extreme sports enthusiast by offering an array of adventurous activities guaranteed to get your heart pumping,” said John Ehlenfeldt, executive vice president of sales and administration at Visit Huntington Beach.
Surfing lessons are popular in Huntington Beach, which is known as “Surf City USA” for its year-round swell and 10-mile coast. Each of its five beaches caters to different levels of surfer.
There are a number of surf companies open to group business, including Banzai Surf School, which touts itself as one of only a handful of National Surf School and Instructors Association-accredited schools in Huntington Beach. Toes on the Nose can also arrange private group surf lessons.
Other experiences include stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, with equipment rentals available through OEX Sunset Beach near downtown Huntington Beach. Group stand-up paddleboarding lessons can also be arranged through McKinnon Surf & SUP Lessons.
McKinnon is also the name behind the Bold As Love Outrigger Surf Canoe, a Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe placed in Huntington Beach courtesy of former pro surfer Rocky McKinnon.
There are free rides offered two days a month for up to 20 people.
Experience Thrills on Land and Sea in Los Cabos
In Los Cabos, Mexico, a top group option is Cabo Adventures, with a variety of waterborne and land-based thrills.
One of its activities available for groups is flyboarding, which has been compared to wakeboarding, snowboarding and skateboarding on a stream of water.
Participants are blasted out of the ocean via a jet pack device with a pressurized stream of water, with options for doing flips or “dolphin jumps,” with the help of an instructor.
Groups can also arrange to swim with whale sharks, the largest fish in the ocean. Adventures start from La Paz on the Sea of Cortez side of the Baja peninsula. Another option on that side of Baja is an outing to swim with sea lions, also organized by Cabo Adventures.
On land, Wild Canyon Adventures offers rides on Monster Ziplines—the longest zipline circuit in Los Cabos—or ATV rides. Its Off Road Runners trip takes the ATVs through canyons, creeks, along the beach and over the longest hanging wooden bridge in the world.
Water Adventures Await Along North Carolina’s Outer Banks
The Atlantic is also a haven for adventure, including the beach areas of North Carolina—whether kiteboarding in Cape Hatteras or wreck diving off the Outer Banks.
“With the Atlantic Ocean to our east, the Cape Fear River to our west and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway in-between, the geography in Wilmington and our island beaches lends itself to water sports,” said John Sneed, vice president of sales and services for the Wilmington and Beaches CVB.
“Outfitters in our destination offer instruction and teambuilding adventures ranging from sailing, kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddling to surfing, kiteboarding and wreck diving,” he added.
Groups can organize a variety of other adventures with Blockade Runner Beach Resort on Wrightsville Beach, N.C. The history of surfing at Wrightsville Beach goes back nearly 100 years, which makes it a perfect location for group surfing lessons.
Another option at the resort is sailing lessons, with space for up to four per vessel. Attendees can learn the basics of rigging and sailing and then compete around a course of fixed buoys in the harbor behind the resort.
Its Eco Paddle Tours program offers paddling off the beach, across the harbor and into the tidal creeks surrounding the island. Up to 25 can paddle and learn about the ecosystems and see wildlife. For teambuilding options there is the Kayak Relay Race or Kayak Scavenger Hunt.
Other activities off the water include sandcastle building contests and seaside yoga.
Experience Art-Infused Kayaking in Texas and Bayou Ziplining in Florida
Along the Texas Gulf Coast, groups can organize kayaking trips from Galveston, rich with thousands of acres of wetlands, including the largest seagrass habitat on the upper Texas coast.
Trails include a 19-mile route that leads to more than 200 acres of seagrass.
Artist Boat organizes “eco-art” kayak adventures, taking attendees on guided tours of Galveston Bay to explore marshes, seagrass beds and rookery islands. Participants have the option to create a plein-air painting of the natural surroundings, replete with tips on watercolor painting.
In Tampa Bay, Fla., Empower Adventures offers zipline tours overlooking the wildlife and waters of the bay and Mobbly Bayou Wilderness Preserve.
The company also features an Olympic-style adventure competition for groups, combining ground and aerial activities such as zipline racing, scavenger hunts and an obstacle course.
[Before You Go: How to Protect Your Attendees on the Water]