You don't have to a pro to hang out with the pros.

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Adventure travel with professional athletes
Credit: Courtesy of Montage Hotel/Adventure IO

Surfing in San Diego, California is already a dream getaway for most. Throw surfing alongside Rob Machado, one of the most decorated and beloved professional surfers of all time, into the mix and you've got yourself a trip of a lifetime. How, you ask? Experiences like this are simply the norm for travelers heading out with Adventure IO, a mobile platform offering exclusive experiences led by professional athletes and local experts.

"Everywhere we went, somebody was excited to pick us up at the airport and show us around their hometown," Jeff McKee, co-founder of Adventure IO, said of his own time as a professional wakeboarder. "We always had these great experiences, and getting to teach other people the sports that we love, we thought, 'How can we do this again?'"

That's where the idea of Adventure IO was born.

As McKee explained, his platform works in three ways: The first option is for users to book day trips for everything from learning to foil board in Charleston to mountain biking in central Florida or a SUP tour in Maui — all with local guides who are often professionals in their sport and for just a few hundred bucks for the day.

The second option is to book multi-day Epic Adventures, which allow guests to tag along with a company like Salty Crew as they tell their brand story through activities alongside a few of their sponsored athletes. This trip is hosted by former world champion surfers CJ and Damien Hobgood and Salty Crew founder, Jared Lane, and takes guests on a "unique two-day Adventure combining the quest for waves and big game trophy fish like blue marlin and striped marlin in Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo."

I got to personally test out option two in June with an Epic Adventure hosted by Vuori, an athletic wear brand, which brought along Machado as their sponsored athlete for a weekend of yoga and surfing in San Diego. While yes, I acted like a giddy child on Christmas morning at the mere sight of my favorite surf legend, what struck me most about this trip was just how relaxed, inclusive, and incredibly joyful it was.

Our weekend posse was made up of myself, a small group of local friends, and a few other stragglers who joined in the fun solo. What could have easily ended up as a segregated group of strangers almost instantly became a large pod of happy people who were simply ready for a good time.

On the morning of day one, we came together for a HITT class hosted by one of Vuori's own instructors, Stef Corgel, to get our heart rates pumping before we brought them down again with a bit of yoga with Frances Brower and a breath work class with Libby Carstensen.

Adventure travel with professional athletes
Credit: Courtesy of Montage Hotel/Adventure IO

On day two, we hit the beach for our main event, surfing with Machado. Though he could easily have phoned it in, he was there to help push newbies into waves, give advice on how to progress, and of course, show off his own skills so we could sit there in awe. By the end, it didn't feel like we were merely surfing with a legend or with strangers, but someone we could actually learn from to become better, and alongside a few new friendly cheerleaders, too.

The trips, McKee said, are typically capped at around 15 guests to keep that feeling of intimacy, as well as give each guest truly VIP access to the pros.

"The network of people that we're building with the app, between our guides and our users, the number one takeaway we want is to bring together amazing people with really interesting stories and provide a great experience," said McKee.

There is one more way people can experience Adventure IO, and that's via its new partnership with Montage International. In July, the hotel brand announced Montage and Pendry Excursions with Adventure IO, bringing guests "one-of-a-kind, locally-inspired day trips, and outdoor pursuits — from taking flight above the water on an electric hydrofoil, learning to navigate the waves of the Pacific Ocean with one of the world's best skimboarders and surfers, to backcountry snowmobiling, heli-skiing, off-roading, and fly fishing, with notable ambassadors and experts in their respective fields."

Adventure travel with professional athletes
Credit: Courtesy of Montage Hotel/Adventure IO

"Our partnership with Adventure IO presents our guests with exceptional opportunities to enjoy the natural and urban settings surrounding our properties while fulfilling personal passions for adventure led by professional athletes and guides," Jason Herthel, president and chief operating officer of Montage International, shared. "These expertly-curated excursions and activities will provide our Montage and Pendry guests with unforgettable experiences and long-lasting memories, a goal we are always aiming to achieve across our portfolio."

Adventure IO programming is now available at Montage Deer Valley, Montage Laguna Beach, and Pendry San Diego. Additional Montage and Pendry destinations across the U.S. and Mexico will roll out their Adventure IO offerings throughout 2021 and 2022.

See what Adventure IO Excursions are available near you and book directly on the app.