Sure, apple picking is a supreme pleasure of the fall season. But if you’re craving a little bit more of an adrenaline rush, get out there and have an adventure by land, air or sea.
On the Water
Shark Cage Diving
There’s extreme sport, and then there’s willingly letting yourself be dropped into the ocean and surrounded by sharks, even if they are mostly blues and makos, not great whites. The shark-cage diving offered by Wakefield-based Snappa Charters is a genuine thrill, and after 40 years, Capt. Charlie Donilon and his crew have this “bucket list” experience down to a science. Bait Divers can choose between being submerged in a 5 x 6. x 7. foot cage or laying on “the Playpen,” a platform that allows you to observe the chum-hungry sharks from the relative safety of the surface. www.snappacharters.com
East Coast surfers are a different breed, willing to put up with all sorts of terrible weather to get a taste of the kind of wave action that’s commonplace in California or Hawaii. On the other hand, the relatively tame everyday conditions on Narragansett Beach make it a wonderful place to put your toe in the water with surfing lessons, especially when aided by instructors like Peter Pan, a member of the Surfing Hall of Fame, at Peter Pan Surfing Academy. www.peterpansurfing.com
Fishing for bluefin tuna and sharks in the Atlantic – fish weighing hundreds of pounds each – is about as close to big-game hunting as you’re likely to get in New England. The sportfishing offered by Coastal Charters may not be as extreme as that seen in Deadliest Catch, but you’ll get a taste of that kind of action if you sign up for one of the 30-hour runs out to the deep-sea canyons led by Captain Dom Petrarca, who employs an energetic jigging and popping method of attracting “large pelagics” – damn big fish, in other words. Charters run through November, and Captain Dom will bring his boat to whatever dock is closest to where the fish are most active, so you can enjoy more time fishing and less time traveling. www.coastalcharterssportfishing.com
The Kayak Centre in Wickford is ideally situated for on-the-water adventures for any skill level. Kayakers can put in at a calm cove across the street from the shop, where beginners can learn the basics in individual or group lessons before venturing out into Wickford Harbor – itself well-protected compared to the open waters of Narragansett Bay. Once you’ve got the hang of launching, steering and paddling, you can join one of the Kayak Centre’s “gentle adventure” tours of the harbor and its islands, a sunset or moonlight paddle, a seal-watching outing or a river trip into the Great Swamp to see local wildlife and waterfowl. More advanced kayakers can take part in a guided tour of the Newport or Jamestown coastline or a 12-mile, open-ocean crossing from Charlestown to Block Island (the return trip is by ferry). www.kayakcentre.com
The Arcadia Management Area in West Greenwich is the biggest swath of protected and undeveloped woodland in Rhode Island, and its 14,000 acres are ribboned with trails, making it one of the most popular mountain-biking destinations in southern New England. You can literally ride for hours, and the singletrack trails range from beginner to advanced. The nearby Big river Management Area has an abundance of easily navigated cross-country trails, with more challenges around the Carr’s Pond area, while Burlingame state Park in Charlestown has 17 miles of mountain-biking trails, including some hilly, rocky and bumpy intermediate and advanced routes. The Rhode Island chapter of the New England Mountain Biking Association organizes group rides and has more information: www.rinemba.org
BMX has been a part of the X Games since the event’s earliest days, and the history of the sport goes back to the 1970s, when young motocross fans in California began imitating their heroes by racing their bikes and doing stunts on homemade dirt tracks. The Woodland BMX Track in West Greenwich – a serpentine course with three banked turns and more than a dozen bumps and jumps – is open to riders of all ages racing 20- or 24-inch BMX bikes. Races are held every Saturday from mid-April to November, and the track is open for practice on Tuesday nights. Free clinics are also offered to riders who are new to the sport. The track is located behind the Dan’s Place restaurant, convenient for post-race snacks and bragging over beers (or Mountain Dew for the kids). www.woodlandbmx.com
Looking to channel your inner Tony Hawk? There are about a dozen skate parks scattered around Rhode Island.
The newest, the Tiverton Skate Park, is located in the Bulgarmarsh Recreation Area; its ramps, rails and jumps are open to skateboarders, inline skaters and BMX bikers and are great for beginners as well as more advanced tricks. For views, you really can’t beat the Easton’s Beach Skate Park, located in a corner of the parking lot at Newport’s First Beach, although the modest skate park in Bristol’s Colt State Park is also grinding distance from the shore. All of these parks are free and open to the public.
In the Air
Parasailing – which basically entails being pulled behind a speedboat while wearing a parachute – is one of those thrilling activities that only seems to be available when you’re on vacation. Fortunately, Rhode Island is one of those places that people actually visit on vacation, so you can sign up for parasailing off the coast of Newport or Block Island pretty much all summer and into early fall. It’s reasonably affordable (prices start at about $60 per person) and well worth the money for the experience of rising from the deck of the boat to as high as 800 feet in the air, thrilling to the sensation of flight as your boat captain dips you down to water level and back up again by gunning and cutting the throttle. Block island Parasail and Watersports (www.blockislandparasail.com) will get you aloft in a parasail solo or with a friend; Newport’s Island Style Parasail (www.islandstyleparasail.com) will go that one better if you have kids, who can go up three at a time.
They call this place Skydive Newport, and your plane will take off from Newport State Airport – but both are actually in Middletown. Regardless, you’ll be jumping out of a (“perfectly good”) airplane with breathtaking views of Aquidneck Island and Narragansett Bay as you descend 10,000 feet – the first 5,000 in freefall – with an expert instructor on your back. You probably won’t be doing much other than screaming as you exit the plane for your tandem jump, plunging earthward at 120 mph for nearly a minute before your parachute opens. For the next few minutes, however, you’ll drift leisurely toward the landing zone, giving you ample opportunity to open your eyes and look around, perhaps spotting the Newport mansions, the Mount Hope Bridge or even Block Island in the distance. www.skydivenewport.com
Rhode Island is a relatively flat state, so while you won’t find many dramatic cliffs to scale here, we do have a relative abundance of indoor rock-climbing facilities as well as one well-known spot for the related sport of bouldering. Rock Spot Climbing (www.rockspotclimbing.com) in Lincoln has more than 10,000 square feet of climbing space and dozens of top-rope walls and bouldering problems to solve, with trails reset every few weeks to keep things fresh and challenging. Instruction and equipment is available and beginner, intermediate and advanced climbing routes are established. Snake Den State Park in Johnston is one of a handful of locations in Rhode Island where you can rock-climb outdoors; some of the cliffs here are 35 feet high. Bouldering
– climbing smaller rock formations without ropes or harnesses – is popular at Lincoln Woods; a total of 113 routes have been mapped out over a variety of boulders scattered around the park. www.mountainproject.com