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Looking to brush up on your culinary skills or learn a new sport on your next trip abroad? You’re in luck: Since 2001, Oakland, Calif.–based Access Trips has specialized in exotic learning vacations for skill and thrill seekers of all abilities. Along with already-popular guided tours like cooking in Thailand and snowboarding in Switzerland (they offer six activities in 16 countries), the adventure-travel company has recently launched a seven-day Mexican Culinary Retreat along the country’s west coast, in which participants try their hands at traditional dishes like shrimp pancakes and ceviche under the direction of one of the country’s top chefs, Hugo Gutierrez.
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Nights are spent in luxury cabanas, and the slow-paced itinerary includes plenty of downtime for idling in a hammock or wandering around the local fishing village of Sayulita, just north of Puerto Vallarta. Also new is the ability to combine Access Trips’ preorganized mountain biking and surfing excursions in Costa Rica and Nicaragua to create a customized multisport journey of up to 14 days. Trips range in difficulty from beginner to advanced, and guests can mix and match according to their comfort level. With such added flexibility, it really is possible to have your beach and mountains too. Tours start at $1,066, excluding airfare; www.accesstrips.com