How many hours of vacation do you really want to spend laying on the beach when there are so many other ways to have fun in the sun.

Whether you are staying at a major resort with all the bells and whistles, like a Marriott Caribbean & Latin America Resorts or a bargain condo you’ve found. 

Maybe you want to switch things up and live on a sailboat for a few days in the British Virgin Islands, like my family has. Maybe you want to learn to scuba dive. It’s a lot easier than ever now that you can do all the course work in advance on line with PADI and complete the certifying dives wherever you are vacationing.

Maybe you just want to get the blood pumping for a few hours—or at least get out of your beach chair. 

Ready to swim with the stingrays? You can do that in the Cayman Islands but just avoid the times the cruise ship crowds are there. Spend time with a local in Jamaica or go tubing in a jungle river.

A lot of these adventures won’t cost you much more than a couple of those frozen drinks.

Here are some ideas to get you off that beach chair:

MEXICO

Get a bird’s-eye view of Puerto Vallarta’s rich flora and fauna by zipping from treetop to treetop on some of the longest ropes courses in Mexico located within ecological reserves. If you’d rather be in the water, snorkel at Los Arcos National Marine Park, famous for towering rock arches, caves, tunnels, and reefs full of marine animals. Also on the Pacific Coast, Riviera Nayarit is quickly becoming a mecca for thrill seekers, Think Skydiving on a pristine beach, snorkeling alongside whale sharks, and one of the wildest new extreme sports – flyboarding--that uses a jet pack to propel a rider on a board up into the air or through the water 

ST. LUCIA

Bike along the steep mountain trail, explore the rainforest or horseback ride on the beach at this tropical paradise. We can’t forget the volcano—St. Lucia Sulphur Springs is said to be the only drive-in volcano in the world. It’s dormant but you can still see plenty of boiling mud!

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS

Go parasailing off St. Thomas. On St. Croix, snorkel at Buck Island, one of only three underwater national monuments in the United States, with an easy-to-follow underwater trail. A number of tour companies operate excursions to Buck Island, which is not far from shore. And on St. John, rent a boat or kayak. 

TURKS AND CAICOS

Go bone fishing in pursuit of the wily and elusive bone fish in waters that host some of the most expansive flats in the Caribbean with miles of mangroves. This is a great place to snorkel, scuba dive and bird watch. Search for Great Blue Herons, Flamingos, Osprey and Pelicans alongside Egrets, Terns, Frigates, Boobies and other water birds—how many of the 170 species here can you see?

Aren’t you glad you left that beach chair?

Eileen Ogintz is the creator of the syndicated column and website Taking the Kids. She is also the author of the ten-book Kid’s Guide series to major American cities and the Great Smoky Mountains. The third-edition of the Kid’s Guide to NYC has just been released.