The hills of Oregon’s central coast are rife with rails and jumps, chutes and bowls—every opportunity to freestyle or just board for speed. But in August—and on these hills—the boarding in question is on sand. Sand Master Park near Florence is the world’s first freeride sandbox: 40 acres of dunes rising up to 445 feet ($16 for a daylong rental, including park admission; $45 an hour for lessons; sandmasterpark.com). Florence itself is something of a Chamonix for the emerging sport. It’s home to Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area (40 miles of wind-sculpted mounds), great surf-fishing and hiking, four-time world champion sandboarder Josh Tenge, and a cool old-town district full of eateries and galleries. At the end of the day hole up at the 1914 Edwin K B&B ($120; edwink.com).
Anyone can bodysurf—and in Southern California, everyone does. "I love the purity of it," says five-time world bodysurfing champion Tim Casinelli. "Even in two-foot surf, a mystical experience can happen anytime." Casinelli now runs the annual World Bodysurfing Championships, where hotshots score points by executing maneuvers like underwater takeoffs, the el rollo (lengthwise roll), and sundry spins (August 23-24; worldbodysurfing.org). Competition proceeds in a series of 15-minute heats for a dozen age groups and culminates with the crowning of world champions. Of course, this being SoCal, the point is really a laid-back good time, which you’ll have whether you join the action (fins recommended) or watch it. Oceanside is one of the state’s classic longboard hangouts and home of the California Surf Museum. After getting tossed in the tide, park your woody and camp at Guajome County Park ($20; sdcounty.ca.gov/parks/Camping/guajome.html).
Fishermen, oystermen, and locals have been convening at a funky Highway 1 fishing village called Nick’s Cove since the early thirties to buy, sell, and eat the salty seafood of Tomales Bay. In the early days a few ramshackle cabins served Bay Area escapees. Now those same seaside huts have been restored (an eight-year job) with lots of salvaged lumber and a keen feel for the vibe of the setting—right on the bay opposite Point Reyes National Seashore. It’s a hard life for visitors: Fresh scones and French-pressed coffee are delivered to your cottage, which overlooks the water ($225; nickscove.com). Later, guides from Bluewaters Kayaking meet you for a beach launch and full-day paddle on the bay skirting one of California’s best unspoiled coastlines ($98; bwkayak.com). Watch for tule elk roaming the shore, hawks and ospreys overhead, and leopard sharks and harbor seals in the water. At the end of such a rough day, settle on your private deck with a dozen oysters and watch the sun set over Hog Island and Point Reyes.
If the normal rafting experience is a lesson in teamwork, expedition-style boating is a masters class in solo exploration. Set off down the Wallowa and Rhonde Rivers, a 36-mile trip in Class II waters, in a 12-foot, two-person raft with a pair of oars and an instructor from Winding Waters River Expeditions ($640 for three days; windingwatersrafting.com). "The big advantage is that one person can control the entire boat," says owner Paul Arentsan. By the time you're done with the Wallowa stretch, which courses through a deep basalt canyon, you'll know the basics: how to read water, how to use power strokes. Then, rather than fixating on oar placement, you can set your gaze on bighorn sheep and surfacing trout.
You may never own a whiz-bang yacht like Seattle’s tech tycoons, but there’s nothing stopping you from acting like it while sailing Puget Sound out of Rosario Resort & Spa. Tack between mountainous evergreen islands, dodge orcas and seals, and watch for eagles and otters during a two-day learn-to-sail course. You’ll get hands-on training and an American Sailing Association’s Basic Keelboat Certification ($999; rosarioresort.com). Rosario is a stunning hideaway tucked into 30 acres of waterfront woods above the sound, originally built about a century ago by pre-silicon heavy Robert Moran, who earned his lucre through shipbuilding and politics. During nonsailing downtime, zoom over to Moran State Park. The thigh-burning 4.5-mile hike through emerald forests from Cascade Lake to Mount Constitution (2,409 feet), the highest point in the San Juan Islands, gets you a high roller’s view of the sound.