The dread is inescapable. Labor Day has passed and with it, another summer. No more hiking, laying on the beach or barbecuing until Memorial Day—nine whole months from now. But it doesn’t have to be this way. While North Americans and Europeans are just beginning to hunker down for fall and winter, others places in the world are just beginning to heat up. (We’re looking at you South America, Australia and Asia). And so, with proper planning, you can chase the sun around the globe until late May, when it officially returns to our side of the hemisphere.
THE SPOT: Simien Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
BEST TIME TO GO: October–April
Simien National Park, tucked in Ethiopia’s northwest corner, is one of the great hiking destinations in the world. Formed by massive erosion, the highland’s nearly 12,000-foot peaks drop sharply into deep valleys, making for stunning vistas. Inside the park there’s only one permanent accommodation, Simien Lodge, which, perched at 10,700 feet, claims to be the highest hotel in Africa. Besides the luxury of modern amenities, the lodge provides a breathtaking view of the Simien escarpment and close proximity to the Gelada baboons, foxes and goats that inhabit the park.
ACTIVITY: Hitting the beach
THE SPOT: Koh Kood, Thailand
BEST TIME TO GO: November–February
Nothing beats doing nothing—especially when it involves sand and sun. In the Gulf of Thailand, the island of Koh Kood provides a perfect setting for extended lounging. For $777 per person, Backyard Travel will provide four days of beachside relaxation. The package includes a speedboat ride from Bangkok to the small, sleepy island (primarily populated by fishing villages and coconut plantations) and accommodations at the Soneva Kiri Resort, where a private beach forms a thin border between the lush jungle and pristine oceanfront—a perfect place to soak in the sun (actual movement completely unnecessary).
THE SPOT: Huacachina, Peru
BEST TIME TO GO: December–March
The small Peruvian village of Huacachina is known for its surfing—just not the kind that’s done on water. Instead, locals surf the 300-foot sand dunes that surround them. Peru Adventure Tours allows foreign adventure seekers to get in on the act as well. Sixty-five dollars secures a dune-buggy ride (half the fun given the blind ridges that turn into vertical drops), a board (closer to a snowboard than a surfboard) and coach (a great help since sand surfing isn’t exactly recognized by the IOC). One piece of advice: Head out around four p.m., which is when the dunes cool off and the sun begins to set over the desolate desert expanse.
THE SPOT: Auckland, New Zealand
BEST TIME TO GO: February–March
Is there anywhere else to go? After all, Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” due to its maritime affinity. As such, it offers multiple options to hoist a sail and cruise around the waters lined with skyscrapers, beaches and verdant parks. Speed, of course, always makes things more interesting. New Zealand on the Web offers two fast-paced options. The first (priced at $96) secures two hours on Waitemata Harbour in an America’s Cup racing yacht—either as part of the crew or as a spectator. The second (priced at $128) is more of the real thing—the opportunity to partake in a race with another vessel. The actual sailing is left to the professionals, but they don’t fake the speed. So the experience promises to be a blur.
THE SPOT: Mui Ne, Vietnam
BEST TIME TO GO: October – March
C2Sky Kitecenter’s owners chased the sun long before we suggested it. In 2006, the Northern Ireland-based company ditched the frigid Atlantic and moved to Mui Ne. The resort town's warm water, long coastline and high winds have made it a kite surfing mecca. C2Sky became the resort town's first and only International Kiteboarding Organization-affiliated instructor. A few lessons would be advised, because strapped to a board and harnessed to a kite, surfers can take off 20 to 30 feet above the water on a good jump. One hundred dollars buys two hours of instruction and gear rental. And “The Real Deal” package provides 12 hours of training so extensive that it even teaches proper kite terminology. While the conditions for kiteboarding are great year round, the best time is when therainy season ends in late October and the wind starts to kick up.