The Best Adventure Holidays Around the World

Emma Langley, 30.08.19
Alternative Destinations

To some people, the idea of a holiday relaxing on one of the world’s prettiest beaches is their idea of paradise. Other people, however, may prefer to have a more active holiday. If you’re the sort of traveller who enjoys doing something active to get the adrenaline pumping, this blog is for you — we’ve put together the best adventure holidays from around the world, from coasteering to dune buggying and more!

1. Coasteering in Newquay, Cornwall, UK.

Coasteering is the perfect aquatic adventure to get your adrenaline pumping at the coast. Involving rock climbing, hopping and jumping, coasteering allows you to explore caves and coves, as well as seeing the seabirds and marine life that live there, all whilst negotiating the challenging tides and whirlpools of the sea. Coasteering makes for a more adventurous activity than regular hiking, as you are experiencing the coast within close-quarters.

Newquay is the perfect location for coasteering, with its rugged yet picturesque coastline of cliffs, beaches and of course, turquoise sea. Whilst coasteering, you’ll find marble caves, stacks, arches, pillars and blowholes — all shaped by the erosion of the Atlantic Ocean and the wind. If you’re seeking more adrenaline after your coasteering adventure, why not check out the surfing scene in Newquay, which is one of the best in the UK!

newquay Newquay's Coastline

Take me to Newquay

The closest airport is Cornwall Newquay Airport (NQY), which operates scheduled domestic flights in the UK with the British airline Flybe. There are also seasonal flights from elsewhere in Europe with airlines such as Eurowings, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, Ryanair and Aer Lingus Regional.

2. Dune adventures in the Namib desert

The sandy dunes of the Namib desert provides a great backdrop for some blood-pumping activities. The vast slopes may seem gentle from afar, but the activities that are provided there are far from subdued. Sand boarding is an extreme sport much like snow-boarding, where you can slide down the slopes of the dunes and reach speeds of up to 80 km/h. Nervous riders and beginners are able to sit down on the board to surf the dunes, with the braver people opting to stand and even perform tricks. If the idea of speed excites you, you can also opt for quad biking or dune buggies, where you can drive through the troughs and peaks of the dunes for a thrill.

The word ‘Namib’ translates to “vast and empty place” in the Khoekhoe language, but a trip there is far from lacking experiences. This coastal desert is huge and stretches over 2,000 km, over the countries of Namibia, South Africa and Angola. So, where’s the best place to go sand boarding or quad biking in this hugely vast area? The Sossusvlei area is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the Namib, with high red, pink and orange sand dunes surrounded by bright white salt pans. There are other things to do in the Sossusvlei area, such as plane rides in light aircraft, or hot air balloon rides where you can see the impressive dune colours from above.

namib The Sossusvlei

Take me to the Namib desert

Eros Airport (ERS), also called Windhoek Eros Airport, is the closest airport to Sossusvlei, with airlines such as Air Namibia and Westair Aviation flying to the airport. Although further away from Sossusvlei, the recommended airport to use is Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH), which has a greater selection of airlines serving it including South African Airways and British Airways. From the latter airport, it’ is under a six hour drive to the Namib-Naukluft National Park, with access to Sossusvlei via the tarmac road from the Sesriem gate.

3. Parkour in Calgary, Canada

If you think that adventure holidays are limited to the wilderness and nature, then you are wrong. Urban adventures are just as exciting and can include activities such as parkour, a sport in which people use urban spaces as obstacle courses to get through as quickly as possible, without the use of any equipment. Often it involves moving rapidly through an area, navigating around objects by running, jumping and climbing. Freerunning is another similar activity, but typically includes the addition of flips and acrobatics whilst still maneuvering the urban landscape. It’s important to choose the right location for parkour, because although the activity is legal, some people get in trouble by trespassing on private property. If you choose to try this activity out, make sure you pay attention to signs and notices and don’t enter private property without prior permission. Perhaps best of all, once you’ve paid for flights and accommodation, the activity itself is completely free as you don’t need any equipment - making it one of the cheapest adventure holidays!

Calgary is a great setting for parkour, with a dedicated parkour training facility called Breathe Parkour. Although this is a great place to learn the basics, parkour is designed to be done outside, so once you are more confident, head to downtown Calgary to Century Gardens park. The park is filled with Brutalist structures of concrete walls, bridges and blocks — making it the perfect location for some parkour or freerunning.

Calgary The Calgary Skyline

Take me to Calgary

Calgary International Airport (YYC) is the closest airport to Downtown Calgary at only a 20 minute drive away. This international airport provides flights to destinations around the world on airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Flair Airlines and Air Transat.

4. White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River, Costa Rica

White water rafting is a action-packed adventure consisting of an inflatable raft which you have to steer in fast-moving waters, choosing the best path and avoiding obstacles. Expect to be bucked into the air, plunged through waves and paddle harder than you ever have before to avoid crashing into boulders. White water rafting is a great test of teamwork in your group, especially once you are all together in a small raft hurtling towards some rapids. If white water rafting doesn’t get your heart beating and the adrenaline pumping, then not much will!

In order to get the steep rivers required for the white water, the best destinations are usually found upstream in mountainous regions, often where rivers are meltwater from snow. This means that quite often the waters are ice cold. However, the Pacuare River, or Rio Pacuare, in Costa Rica is one of the best destinations for rapids in the world, made even better by the fact that the river is considerably warmer than other destinations due to its close proximity to the Equator- an inviting fact knowing you will inevitably get soaked by the water. Although you may be too focused on the task at hand to notice the beautiful surroundings, the Pacuare River is situated in dense jungle complete with unique wildlife, which is great for exploring after your white water adventure.

pacure river White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River

Take me to the Pacuare River

If you require an international flight, the best airport to use is San José’s Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) which operate flights to destinations around the world on airlines such as Copa Airlines, Avianca, Alaska Airlines and Spirit Airlines. The airport is a three hour drive from the river, although many companies who organise the rafting will arrange transport from San José.

5. Canyoning in Zion National Park, Utah, USA

Canyoning, also called canyoneering or gorge walking, is a great way to explore the fascinating landscape and formations of canyons whilst testing our your personal limits and teamwork with friends or family. It’s similar to coasteering in that it involves a mix of activities such as hiking, caving, climbing and mountaineering, all with the aim of using your body to make your way downstream. You’ll often need certain canyoning equipment to help you complete the adventure, such as a helmet, rope and a wetsuit for activities such as swimming and abseiling. Depending on where you choose to do canyoning, you’ll most likely encounter waterfalls, gorges, rockpools and of course the deep cliffs of the canyon itself. Make sure you take time to step back out of the focus of canyoning, and appreciate the wonders and natural beauty of your location.

Zion National Park in southern Utah, is a great location for canyoning, with its impressive features creating a thrilling canyoning experience, paired with the stunning natural beauty you’ll be surrounded by. Carved out by the Virgin River around 250 million years ago, the impressive uplift and erosion of the area formed rainbow-coloured sandstone cliffs and canyons, magical waterfalls such as the Weeping Rock and Archangel Falls and of course the streams of the Virgin River. The canyon has a size of over 200 square miles, meaning there are plenty of spots for canyoning for people of all abilities, making it one of the best destinations for canyoning in the world.

zion national park Zion National Park

Take me to Zion National Park

The closest airport to Zion National Park is St. George Regional Airport (SGU). At only an hour drive away, this airport only operates a few domestic flights in the USA on regional airlines such as Allegiant Air, Delta Connection and American Eagle. If you need international flights, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport (LAS) is only a three hour drive from the park, with international flights on airlines such as Interjet, Swoop, Spirit Airlines, Contour Airlines and Eurowings.

6. Snorkelling in the Raja Ampat Islands, West Papua Province, Indonesia

Although snorkelling is perhaps not as adrenaline-inducing as other activities on this list, it’ is still a great option for an exciting underwater adventure. Swimming underwater along with fish and other sea creatures may seem slow paced at first, but once you get there, you will be surprised at how much this activity thrills you. Not only can you learn about the marine life that inhabits an area, but you can see the true beauty of the underwater world up-close.

snorkelling

Raja Ampat is a collection of small islands off Bird’s Head in West Papua, Indonesia. It’ is heralded as one of the best spots in the world for snorkelling due to its huge biodiversity. There is an abundance of coral and reef fish varieties, with Raja Ampat having a representation of over 65% of all the world's coral species. Its shallow reef systems, which is one of the most pristine and undamaged reefs in the world, make for the perfect snorkelling destination, as their beauty is visible and accessible from the sea’s surface, meaning deep diving is not required.

Raja ampat Raja Ampat

Take me to Raja Ampat

The closest airport to Raja Ampat is Sorong airport, officially known as Domine Eduard Osok Airport (SOQ). A number of regional airlines fly here, including Sriwijaya Air, Garuda Indonesia, Nam Air and Batik Air.

Top tip: Indonesia is one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia, so why not experience more of this beautiful country by using cheap domestic flights to get around?

7. Volcano Exploring in Réunion

Seeing an active volcano in person is something that is exciting to imagine, and even more spectacular in real life. Combine hiking and mountaineering with the flora and fauna spotting on a seemingly ash-covered landscape is not only an adventure in the activity, but also exciting for the potential to see a live volcano.

Piton de la Fournaise on Réunion Island is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and is the perfect destination for geeking out over volcanos. If you are up for a physical test and if the volcano isn’t currently erupting, you can hike up the volcano and walk around the volcano's caldera (the crater at the centre of the volcano, formed by a previous eruption) where you can get a spectacular view of both inside the volcano, and down the slopes at the view below. Be sure to take a look at the previous and solidified lava flows, to get an idea of the previous eruptions. During eruptions, however, the paths are closed and access is not permitted. It won’t be a wasted holiday though - watching a volcano eruption from afar is truly mesmerising, seeing the huge cloud of smoke and ash emitted along with the occasional bright orange lava flows.

Reunion volcano The view from Réunion Volcano

Take me to Réunion

The best airport for international flights on Réunion island is Roland Garros International Airport (RUN). This airport has airlines flying to destinations from around the world, including Air Austral, Air Madagascar and XL Airways France.

Check out our other blogs

If you want to learn about local guide-led adventures, check out our blog on Airbnb Adventures. It includes activities such as exploring the Amazon jungle, tracking lions in Nairobi and cliff camping in Colorado!

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