A taste of culture: 15 of the best day tours in the U.S, Japan and Tahiti
Want to soak up as much culture as you can but only have a short amount of time? We’ve rounded up a selection of the best day tours are perfect for those on a strict schedule; enjoy sailing the seas and spotting incredible water creatures in the islands of Tahiti and Dana Point. Marry exercise with wine tasting tours around the vineyards in Tri-Valley, California or hop on two wheels and explore around the Seto Inland Sea in Japan.
Downtown adventures on two wheels in Portland, Oregon
The best way to explore the creative city of Portland is by bike. Cyclists take priority downtown and local residents are proud to be part of a community that devised dedicated bike lanes and one of the first cycle-sharing schemes. Pedal Bike Tours take cyclists on adventures to some of Portland’s great vistas, buildings, streets and landmarks, doughnut shops, coffee houses and surrounding natural beauty.
Tours start from $49 per person.
Wine Country Bike Tour, Tri-Valley, California
Discover the beauty of California’s lesser-known wine region while you sample its delicious wines on a bike tour through the countryside. Ride to several of the region’s best vineyards, scenic areas and tastiest eateries. Highlights include a visit to the oldest family-run winery in the US, artisanal coffee, and a visit to the lush Del Valle Regional Park.
From £124 per person for a four-hour guided tour.
Shimanami Kaido bikeway, Setouchi, Japan
Cycle off the beaten track and experience a more relaxed Japan island hopping through the scenic Shimanami Kaido bikeway. The route stretches 60 miles connecting the main island of Honshu to the island of Shikoku, crossing six islands and showcasing unparalleled beautiful scenery.
For avid cyclists the route can be completed in one day although it is advised to spend more time for the full experience. Temples and shrines line the trail enabling riders to soak up Japanese culture and history in a peaceful setting.
Bike hire from £8 for adults and £3 for children.
Tour the stunning Takachiho Gorge, Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu
Located in the Miyazaki Prefecture is the Takachiho Gorge, boarding both Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures. The gorge is a narrow chasm cut through the rock by the Gokase River with a 17-meter-high Minainotaki waterfall that cascades down to the river below. Visitors can also hike or take a rowing boat down the river for the ultimate experience and close-ups of the waterfall.
Cost per boat – £15 for 30 minutes.
Sail the Seven Shrines in Miyajima waters, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan
Miyajima Island is located just off of the main Hiroshima Prefecture, visitors can take a private cruise around the island observing spiritual practices at each of the seven shrines of Miyajima. The visit to the shrines is known as the mystical ‘Nanaura Meguri’ and said to be where the gods reside. The tour includes a stop at the internationally recognised World Heritage Site Itsukushima Shrine with stunning views of Mount Misen.
Private cruise starts from £200pp.
Swim with sharks, The Islands of Tahiti
Rangiroa Diving Center offer shark dives in the Tiputa pass off the shore of Rangiroa, home to a shark cave 35m below sea level. This is a particularly spectacular shark diving spot as hordes of grey reef sharks pass through the cave as a result of fast currents. There are structures in the cave that shelter divers from the powerful tides allowing them to see this spectacular marine life movement.
Dives start from £60pp.
Dana Wharf Whale Watching, Dana Point, California
Operating since 1971, Dana Wharf Whale Watching was the first whale watching company to set up in Orange County. The operator offers year-round sailing and is so confident of Dana Point’s standing as a mecca for marine life, they claim that sightings of whales or dolphins are guaranteed. A certified marine naturalist from the team is invited on-board every two-hour cruise to provide insightful information about these beautiful mammals.
2-hour tours start from $49 per adult and $29 per child.
Eco-tour of the Ten Thousand Islands, Paradise Coast, Florida
Cruise the waters of Florida’s mysterious Ten Thousand Islands and discover the ocean’s liveliest creatures. The Dolphin Explorer gives visitors the rare chance to get up close and personal with Marco Island’s resident dolphins as you partake in the Dolphin Project – a long-term study of the abundance, distribution, movement and behaviours of bottlenose dolphins.
3-hour tours from £50 per adult and £35 per child.
Newport Beach Sailing Charter, Newport Beach, California
Experience the gorgeous coastline of Newport Beach from the deck of your own private yacht. Newport Beach Sailing Charters specialise in captained and adventure charters giving visitors the chance to explore Newport Beach, Catalina Island and the Channel Islands. With personalised charters based entirely on your schedule, visitors can enjoy the ultimate freedom that sailing offers.
From £549 for a three-hour captained charter.
Coastal Adventure Beach Tour, Huntington Beach, California
Kick back and relax on a beautifully restored vintage boat with Prince Charters, the perfect Huntington Beach Harbour activity guided by a licensed captain. Take in the beauty of Huntington Harbour on a classic wooden boat or set sail to Catalina Island on a luxury sailing yacht with up to 30 friends or family, with beer, wine and champagne served on board.
Prices start from $115 per adult/$75 per child (infants go free) with Surf City Adventure Tours.
Hachinohe Shuzo Sake Brewery, Aomori Prefecture
Hachinohe Shuzo is a long-established sake brewery dating back to 1775. The property has been elected as a National Tangible Cultural Property and Prefectural Important Scenic Building. Visitors can enjoy tours of the brewery with behind the scenes access to the brick warehouse, storehouse and main wooden buildings whilst enjoying sake tasting along the way.
The brewery is particular about using organic natural rice and yeast grown in Aomori Prefecture, it considers health and the environment in its production. Mutsu Otokoyama is a dry sake loved in local fishing villages, while Mutsu Hassen features a ginjyo-type aroma and a refreshing sweetness.
Tour fee – £5pp with tasting.
Dry Creek Vineyard farm tour, Sonoma County, California
Dry Creek Vineyard grows many varietals on its vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley wine region, it sources fruit from other Sonoma County regions and focuses on discovering varietal-specific growing conditions. Ride in style through the estate vineyards while delving into sustainable farming practices and soaking up the stunning views. The tour takes approximately two-hours for up to four people and includes a tasting of several world-class wines from the vineyards.
Prices start from $25 per person for a seated tasting or $40 per person for a tour and tasting.
‘Burgh Bits and Bites’ food tour, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
For a food tasting adventure around the Strip District, ‘Burgh Bits and Bites’ food tour connects visitors to the community through food. The two-hour tour offers a historic walking excursion to many of the popular stores and restaurants in the downtown area. En route, guests will have the opportunity to sample a number of popular dishes including a pepperoni roll at Sunseri’s and biscotti at Enrico Biscotti Bakery.
Strip District food tour tickets are available for $43pp.
Totally Cali Tours, Santa Barbara, California
Totally Cali Tours delivers an authentic and in-depth Santa Barbara experience, choose from history, wine and beer tasting or cultural tours of downtown Santa Barbara as well as the prestigious Wine Country. Tours can be customised to suit any unique interests and are thoughtfully crafted by local guides who proudly deliver knowledgeable, down-to-earth and fun experiences.
Prices start from $40 per person for a cocktail and history walking tour.
Enjoy a safari wine adventure, Santa Cruz, California
The Safari Wine Adventure, located in rural Pleasant Valley, welcomes up to eight guests on a private tour of the 210-acre Lester Estate with a gourmet picnic and up to six wines to choose from. The tour starts with a walking excursion of the vineyards at the brand-new tasting barn, from here guests board a restored 1981 Land Rover Defender and drive through Deer Park Ranch concluding at the top of Elephant Hill which offers panoramic views of Corralitos, Pleasant Valley and Monterey Bay.
Tours start at $65pp.