With the possible exception of beach-goers, very few people want to travel in order to sit. Travel is all about experiencing the best of what a destination has to offer, and in many cases, the best of what a destination can offer is adventure. From mountain climbing to snowshoeing to hill-walking — yes, “hill-walking” is an adventure sport! — here are ten of the world’s best destinations for outdoor adventure.
Now get off your duff and get out there!
Squamish, British Columbia, Canada – Snowshoeing
Discover the outbacks of Garibaldi Provincial Park in Squamish, British Columbia at Elfin Lakes, where a cluster of little lakes reside at 5,446 ft (1,660 m), about 11 kilometers from the trailhead.
We threw on skins on skis and hiked up (and skiied down later, for a great powdery ride out!). For the less initiated, snowshoeing is a fun and easy way to enjoy this slice of paradise outdoors, where the immense expanse of snowy playground past Paul Ridge (the highest point) will turn your dreary winter into a delightful wonder.
The first four kilometers are the steepest, which lead to Red Heather Meadows at (4,757 ft) 1,450 m, but the remaining seven kilometers even out on the plateau of Paul Ridge, leading to Elfin Hut, which is surrounded by mountains on all sides. It’s a glorious experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Bonus: You can also do this, as a hike, in the summer.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia – Mountain Climbing
Want to reach the top of the world without climbing Everest? You can, at Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in Southeast Asia and the focal point of the Kinabalu National Park, Malaysia‘s first World Heritage site.
The good news is, you don’t need technical skills or gear to climb this mountain. All you need is strong legs and good cardio. We took about seven hours to reach the peak (if you’re really fit, you might get there faster), through what seemed to be an endless set of steps – but this giant jungle trek upward is worth the glorious views that await at Low’s Peak.
The sheer effort will make the experience a breath-taking one (literally), but the exhilaration of reaching the peak at 13,435 ft (4,095 m) makes it all worthwhile.
Kingston, Ontario, Canada – Camping and Canoeing
Nature-lovers will not miss the chance to camp and canoe in the summertime. Be it swimming in lakes, enjoying a campfire at night or sleeping in a tent outdoors, you’ll get an unforgettable taste of nature at Frontenac Provincial Park, located in southern Ontario about 40 kilometers north of the historical city of Kingston.
Rent a canoe, paddle out into the interiors, portage to one of the 48 interior camp sites, jump into the lake waters, or hike any of its 160 kilometers of trails. We recommend the Little Salmon Lake Loop, which is about 15 kilometers and takes about three to five hours. Outdoor enthusiasts will have a field day in this beautiful national park.
Sydney, Australia – Mountain Hiking
Australia isn’t just home to the koalas and kangaroos – it also houses The Three Sisters, a three-mountain range in the scenic Blue Mountains, 50 km from the city of Sydney. Legend has it that three beautiful sisters were turned into stone to protect them from harm. But the witch doctor who was supposed to transform them back into human form died, leaving them in permanent structure forever.
To get the best views of The Three Sisters, take the Scenic Walkway, a two-kilometer hike on boardwalk through the rainforest. Ride down the steepest incline railway in the world – it’s almost vertical in direction! The 415 m descent takes you through a cliff-side tunnel into ancient rainforest. From there, explore the Scenic Walkway, or find your way to the 1,000 steps that will take you to Echo Point, where The Three Sisters sit.
Vermont, United States – Alpine Skiing
For the “best powder,” we love Jay Peak in Vermont, which claims to accumulate more snow than any other ski resort in the East. With 50 miles of trails on 385 acres serviced by seven lifts and the most recommended glade skiing, what more can you ask for?
Pro tip: Go off the wider trails and glide through the glades at Jay Peak, which offer great depths of snow for those who love their pow’.
Phuket, Thailand – Scuba Diving
Sun worshippers will discover a tropical paradise on the island of Phuket, Thailand, where spectacular surfing, snorkeling and diving await those who seek the secrets of the deep.
Besides a flamboyant nightlight at Phuket’s Patong Beach, Asia’s most popular beach destination offers lush white sands along palm-lined beaches as well as world-class diving in the Andaman Sea. Many travel adventure outfits in town offer scuba diving courses and PADI certification.
Book your scuba trip via speedboat to the surrounding islands (we loved the beautiful, clear waters around Phi Phi island), don your diving suit and enter the unparalleled underwater world beneath.
Canmore, Alberta, Canada – Backcountry Ski Touring
For those who can’t get enough of winter, take skiing one step further and head out into the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies, where unspoiled wilderness and untouched powder snow await – minus the cost of lift tickets.
Near the town of Canmore lies the Wapta Icefields, a magnificent stretch of nature that spans many miles north along the continental divide from the Lake Louise area. The Icefields house vast glaciers, easy peaks and warming huts along the way.
If you’re a beginner, the four-day ski traverse run by Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is the perfect outfit to offer an experience in classical ski-mountaineering.
Koh Samui, Thailand – Kite-Surfing
Instead of diving down deep into the sea, take to the skies instead with kite-surfing at Koh Samui, Thailand.
Rather like a parachute jump in reverse, get harnessed to a parachute before being gently released into the air from the back of a speedboat, and remain attached for the duration of the ride.
At Lamai beach, its kite surf center features an outer reef which creates a natural barrier against waves. This ensures that the waist-deep water remains flat and the bottom is soft sand as well.
Check out Kiteboarding Asia, whose schools are certified by the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO), at Lamai or Chaweng beaches.
Cumbria, Lake District, England – Hill-Walking
For a postcard-perfect encounter with nature, England’s largest national park – Lake District National Park – is a walker’s paradise, flanked by gorgeous mountains and beautiful lakes.
With 2,292 square kilometers of vast beauty to explore and admire, the hiking options are endless. We suggest a hike to Scafell Peak. At 3,210 ft, it is the highest mountain in England and a popular spot for hill-walking, as the British call it.
For the more adventurous, take the more challenging route at Helvellyn. The narrow ridge of Striding Edge will raise your heartbeat in more ways than one.
Queenstown, New Zealand – Bungee Jumping
Who would have thought that jumping off a bridge with a long elastic cord tied to your ankles can be considered fun? In Queenstown, New Zealand, somebody evidently thought so – and promptly catapulted this city to fame with this thrill-seeking activity. This person was AJ Hackett, who opened the first commercial bungee jumping operation from the Kawarau Bridge (43 m high) over the Kawarau River in 1888.
For your personalized experience, you can choose from a number of options: topple over backwards; forwards, with another person, spin, or somersault. You can even choose to bob above the water, touch it, or even be fully immersed! Not for the faint-of-heart.