Image: New Zealand fishing
Owen River Lodge  /  Owen River Lodge
Fishing is the name of the game at the Owen River Lodge, on New Zealand's South Island, which is near more than 30 streams and rivers.
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updated 9/28/2009 10:46:48 AM ET 2009-09-28T14:46:48

In movies and lore, the bachelor party blowout is all but synonymous with exotic dancers and heavy partying. But today's best men are lining up different fetes for the groom-to-be, planning elaborate destination parties that don't include wild nights on the town. That's not to say that the traditional Las Vegas blowout is a thing of the past. "Vegas is still king, says Jake Schraufnagel, publisher of Today's Groom. “But more best men are arranging whitewater rafting trips, golf weekends and other extreme vacations.”

According to the most recent U.S. census, Americans are staying single for nearly five more years than their parents did. The average man walks down the aisle when he's 27.1-years-old; a quarter century ago, he would've been 23.2-years-old. (For women, it's 25.8 and 20.8, respectively.) This may explain why bachelor parties are changing, says Schraufnagel. "As the groom and his friends get older, they can afford a memorable weekend getaway for a bachelor party. Having more disposable income is a huge deciding factor in the bachelor party festivities"

Older grooms-to-be may also have different priorities than their younger counterparts. "A younger groom may have younger attendees who are single themselves with no wife to answer to at the end of the bachelor party," says Schraufnagel. "Guys are using the bachelor party as a reunion and a great opportunity to introduce new friends of the groom's to old friends from the past." The focus, then, shifts from a night at the strip club to a weekend to remember with the guys.

Almost 90 years after Zane Grey's "Tales of an Angler's El Dorado" thrust New Zealand's sportfishing into the global spotlight, God Zone remains a 'must-do' on any angler's bucket list. If the thought of a 10-pound brown trout slurping a dry fly in crystal-clear waters gets your groom-to-be's heart pumping, let the Kiwis show you the piscine riches that have made the country famous.

December, January, and February, are the best months to hook a pig on a dry fly — giving you a great excuse to leave sleet and snow behind. Base yourself at Owen River Lodge, where you'll have easy access to more than 30 streams and rivers with countless other options for helicopter fly-in opportunities. When you're not on the water, you won't be roughing it. Guests cottages line the 16-acre property's gardens and offer sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. And when it's mealtime, the lodge's chef will have you sampling the best cuisine New Zealand has to offer, using produce grown organically on-site.

It has been 40 years since the Florida Keys were a counterculture hotbed. Today, you're more likely to find Midwestern tourists with fanny packs than hippies in Volkswagen vans. One thing that has stayed the same is the glut of fishing opportunities in the waters surrounding the islands. Bonefish, tarpon and permit on the flats, or billsfish and wahoo offshore? But if you and your buddies like to dive and are looking for a new thrill, head to the Keys to try your hand at spear fishing in the area's waters. Key West-based Spearfishing Charters runs day and overnight trips to the virgin reefs scattered throughout the Marquesas Keys and The Dry Tortugas. Purists can ditch the tanks and hunt fish on a free-dive, chasing fish in 60-feet-deep waters as fast as your fins will carry you.

Image: Spearfishing
Poelzer Wolfgang  /  Alamy
Come on and take a free dive. Key West-based Spearfishing Charters runs trips to the reefs to catch snapper, grouper and—in season—lobster.
If warm-water sport isn't the groom-to-be's idea of a bachelor party blowout, options abound in the cold and wild. Grab your ice axe, crampons and ropes—and hook up with one of Iceland's many guides who know how to conquer the glaciers that cover 11 percent of this small island nation. Routes are available for all ability levels, but beware of Icelandic understatement when choosing your climbs. While Icelanders grade their routes using the same scale as climbers in the States, routes tend to be rated lower than comparable pitches in the U.S. When you've had your fill of scaling waterfalls, there's always a party going on in Reykjavik, the lively capital.

Image: South America tours
Ron Ayres
Motorcycle tours from Antarctica to Alaska, and pretty much everywhere in between, are another growing segment of the bachelor party industry.
And if your bachelor is absolutely set on gambling during his last hurrah, then do it right. Monaco's famed Casino de Monte Carlo, located in the French Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea, is a gambling icon. The inspiration for the setting of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, this casino has been giving guests thrills at the tables since 1863. When your party is ready for a rush in fresh air, the Alps are just a short helicopter ride away, and Heli Air Monaco will have you hitting the slopes with Europe's jet set in no time.

Regardless of which high-octane getaway you choose, the best advice is: Start planning now. "With so many schedules to coordinate," says Jake Schraufnagel, "you need three to four months in advance if you are planning to travel."

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