A raft of new tour offerings from Island Routes

By Gay Nagle Myers

Want a good workout? Try river boarding.

The board sport is one of the newest activities offered by Island Routes Caribbean Adventure Tours.

David Shields, general manager, tested it himself in the waters of the mighty Rio Bueno River on Jamaica's north coast.

"It's fun, exciting and a great workout for the shoulder area," Shields said.

Dune Buggy tourAfter a short training session, participants don helmets and life jackets, position themselves prone on the board and paddle with their arms and legs through white water and rapids down the river for about 40 minutes. The river dumps into the Caribbean Sea, where boarders then paddle to a nearby beach to relax and brag.

Island Routes also offers river tubing on the same river and a river rafting trip on the calmer Martha Brea River. A licensed raft captain pilots a 30-foot-long bamboo raft down river for three miles while participants sit back and enjoy the scenery.

"This is romantic," Shields said. "A lot of honeymooners like this one."

Island Routes, which opened for business in June 2009 with a handful of tours in Jamaica, now offers more than 300 excursions in eight destinations: Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos.

"We had a good year in 2012 with growth in overall business in all our markets, and we've got new products coming on line later this year," Shields said.

The river tours were introduced last year, as was the sea trek interactive experience at Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios, in which participants head underwater for face-to-face encounters with the dolphins.

Also new is the island buggy tour on St. Lucia, where participants can get behind the wheel of open-sided, two- and four-seat dune buggies. "Each buggy is equipped with a radio, guides accompany the drivers in separate vehicles and we take care of the driver's licenses," Shields said.

Island Routes' newest destination is Grenada, and the operator has been named the official tour provider for Sandals La Source when the resort opens later this year.

"We're planning tours of the nutmeg sites and several other attractions on the island," Shields said.

Agent participation is key to Island Routes' growth and success, Shields said.

"We've got a link on our website for agents, and we offer a co-branding program that links our site with theirs," Shields said.

Agents can register at www.islandroutestours.com or talk to an Island Routes specialist at (877) 768-8370.
 

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly. 

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