The world is a wild place, filled with both natural marvels and human-made attractions. We’ve scouted the planet for the most adventurous holiday spots, and you’ve simply got to visit them, whether you raft, fly, or skydive to get there. And the best part? Some of these daring destinations are surprisingly close to home, and some are even your favourite big cities. From overnights in the Outback to surfing in New York City, check out these awesome—and unexpected—adventures.
Most Adventurous Holiday Spots in the World
This town on the Coral Coast is home to one of Australia’s “biggest” attractions—literally. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the ocean (weighing in at up to 18.7 tonnes!), and between April and July, they’re Exmouth’s main event. Join up with Ningaloo Discovery to meet plankton-eating whale sharks, manta rays, and more in their natural habitat. Exmouth Diving Centre offers a great whale shark encounter as well, or you can dive even deeper and befriend wobbegong carpet sharks, moray eels, and other harmless, but perhaps intimidating, sea creatures.
Prefer a sky-high perspective? How about from a tiny, two-seat, ultra-light aircraft? Learn the art of microlight flying with Birds Eye View and check out the incredible colour palette that only the albatross see. You’ll walk away with amazing memories of being lighter than air—and some great photos, too.
Katherine, Northern Territory
Located south of Nitmiluk National Park, Katherine is your window to the Outback, ready to introduce you to all its rugged wonders. Start off underground at the Cutta Cutta Caves. These limestone caverns were formed millions of years ago, and they’re still growing today. Keep an eye out for blind shrimp, brown tree snakes, and ghost bats.
Next, take to the region’s wide open spaces with a canoe tour to some gorgeous gorges. From June to November, Nitmiluk Tours takes you on an overnight outing where you’ll glide through the waterways and wilderness of the Nitmiluk Gorge and camp under the stars. If you need an excursion that’s even more epic, wind your way through rocky riverbeds and small rapids on Gecko Canoeing’s three-day Katherine River adventure.
Oahu is teeming with tropical escapades by land and sea—and also by air. There’s nothing quite like seeing Honolulu’s Pearl Harbor from the cockpit of a plane speeding through the clouds. Pearl Harbor Warbirds offers a spectacular experience and heart-pounding aerial moves for adrenaline junkies.
Back at sea level, Hawaii’s legendary waves attract surfers from all over the world. Grommets can rent a board at Faith Surf School to ride the waves of Waikiki Beach, while the pros should check out the renowned Banzai Pipeline. When the smashing scenery woos you toward land, keep the expedition moving on the Jurassic Park Waterfall Adventure with Oahu Nature Tours, which takes you on a secret trail featured in the iconic film. It’s the next best thing to actually walking among the dinosaurs.
Your best friends may be planning holidays to “urban jungles” like New York or Hong Kong, but you’d rather visit a real jungle. In Singapore, you’ll get the best of both worlds: it has lush landscapes you could spend days getting lost in, but it also has a vibrant city centre. Hike through the island’s dense foliage in search of hidden bunkers, used during WWII as POW camps, artilleries, and even secret homes.
Since Singapore is an island, you’ve got to make the most of the water. Spot kingfishers, herons, and hornbills as you kayak through dense mangrove forests with Asian Detours. Ready to take your aquatic exploits to the next level? Build your own sea raft with PA Water-Venture, then test it out on the open water. If your raft-building cohort goes topsy turvy in the Johor Strait, that’s on you.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Things happen fast in Las Vegas. If you don’t believe us, you haven’t seen someone win big with one roll of the dice. If you’ve got a need for speed, head to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to zoom around in a supercar from Dream Racing. Or, take a doors-off helicopter tour with Bullets & Burgers, and add on an adrenaline-pumping ride in the World’s Largest Monster Truck Limo. Yes, that’s a thing.
Go aerial as you freefall from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Tower—Sin City looks spectacular from 252 metres. And while the Strip is a neon beauty, you don’t want to miss the Nevada wilderness. Gain some velocity on the steep downhills of Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park in the Vegas suburb of Boulder City, 40 km south. Rent a bike from All Mountain Cyclery in the centre of Boulder City and take their shuttle to the park.
Once upon a time, Beechworth was a gold-mining town where Australians came to strike it rich. These days, travellers trade the pan for some mountain bike wheels to explore the area. The Indigo Gold Trail is a favourite for beginners, taking you into historic towns and villages and through the expansive countryside.
The Flametrees Trail offers plenty of technical obstacles and gradient changes for intermediate riders. And if you’re really looking for some exercise, you probably came here for the 7 Peaks Challenge. Beechworth is a great home base for this self-paced cycling challenge, with four of the seven peaks an easy day trip away. You’re also in wine country, so don’t forget to enjoy a quick sip or plan a tasting.
Holidays in Bali aren’t all about sunbathing and swim-up bars, but that will be the perfect treat after all your adventures. And yes, you will want to wind down with a massage later, because being fearless can be exhausting work. But first, waterfall canyoning. Abseil down waterfalls deep in the rainforest—or slip, slide, and jump your way down—with the experts at Adventure & Spirit.
Snorkelling in these pristine waters is a must-do, but the Bali Sea is also stunning from the sky. Glide like a seagull over Pandawa Beach with Bali Paragliding Tandem Tours, or slide along the Abyss Zipline in Ceningan from cliffs to an infinity pool on the edge of the ocean. It’s only scary until you reach the pool party.
New York City, New York
Just because it’s the big city and not a jungle island doesn’t mean New York City is short on incredible feats. For example, the New York City Marathon is definitely an impressive undertaking. We’re not saying you need to run the whole 42.1 kilometres—but you can run across the finish line in Central Park for your own moment of glory.
You can even add adventure to some typical NYC attractions. If you want to try out a Nathan’s Famous Frank on Coney Island, you can always jet ski there on a Jetty Jumpers tour. And remember, New York may be a tourist hub, but it’s got some secrets, too—like surfing. Rent a board from Boarders Surf Shop in Rockaway Beach and charge the wave breaks between 88th and 90th Streets. You’ve never seen NYC like this before.
Hobart is surrounded by some of the most challenging and spectacular attractions in Australia. With a home base in Hobart, you’ll be only hours from an array of daring things to do.
Experience the highest dam abseil in the world at Gordon Dam; this 140-metre drop will leave you breathless. Don’t just hang over the water—get in there and splash around with some world-class whitewater rafting. The Franklin River races across the island, and Franklin River Rafting leads multi-day tours that start in Hobart and follow the current to Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.
Speaking of world-class, the Innsbruck area is the mountain climbing capital of Austria’s Tyrol region, and there is sure to be a hill, rock, or frozen waterfall to suit you. Warm up with an easy hike to Maximilian-Grotto in Martinswand. According to local legend, Emperor Maximilian sought refuge in the grotto when he got lost on a hunting trip.
When you’re ready to raise the risk factor, go vertical. The Ehnbachklamm is home to rock climbing routes for beginners and experts alike. Not enough? Try the Kaiser Max-Klettersteig via ferrata route on the 500-m-high Martinswand rockface. Still not enough? You need to scale a frozen waterfall. Not for beginners, the Zehent Icefall stands at 50 metres, and the climb is both exhilarating and Instagram-ready.
Mission Beach, Queensland
In Mission Beach, orange sunsets and golden sands contrast with bright turquoise water and a swoon-worthy blue sky. Then there’s the natural wonder that waits just beneath the waves: the Great Barrier Reef, of course. It’s practically Queensland’s backyard, and Mission Beach is its gorgeous gateway. Get up close and personal with the Coral Sea’s flora and fauna with help and gear from the experts at Mission Beach Dive.
In this coastal paradise, the world is your oyster. Above the waves, paddle over to Dunk Island with Coral Sea Kayaking for a day of snorkelling off secluded beaches and meeting sea turtles and dugongs. To make a truly grand entrance back in town, descend on the waterfront from above with Skydive Mission Beach.
Cochrane, Alberta, Canada
Located a short drive outside Banff, Cochrane is a winter wonderland. From November to March, you’ll typically find a pristine blanket of snow—perfect for exploring from the back of a snowmobile. Race across fresh powder with All Season Motorsports for a taste of Alberta’s adventurous heritage. Sign up for a tour of scenic McLean Creek, or go it on your own with a daily rental and a map of the area.
Summer is not a season to dismiss in Cochrane, either. During the warmer weather from May to September, ride around on tires instead with Hidden Trails Adventures. An ATV tour of the Alberta outdoors is both thrilling and scenic. Top off the day with a refreshing pint of Farmers Daughter Pale Ale at Half Hitch Brewing Company and toast to the dirt on your overalls.
Prince Edward Island, Canada
The world record bluefin catch was reeled in from the waters around western Prince Edward Island, weighing in at 678.5 kg. Visit between August and mid-October and you can try to break that record…or net your own dinner. Enjoy fantastically fresh mackerel and cod after a day on the water with Joey’s Deep Sea Fishing.
Love fishing, but don’t want to wrestle your next meal? Try fly fishing on the island’s eastern side with an outfit like On the Fly, then relax at Basin Head Beach, where the golden grains are so fine that they squeak and “sing” as you walk along the waterfront. Add a final stop for sampling moonshine at Myriad Distillery.
Newcastle, New South Wales
Newcastle is a surfer’s dream destination, because the locals and ocean waves play hard—though beginners will also find plenty of spots for surf lessons. Rent a board from Sanbah Surf Shop, take a lesson at their Surfest Surf School, and get ready to find your perfect wave.
Beginners can warm up their balance at Stockton Beach, then refuel at local café Lexie’s on the Beach. If you’re more experienced with a board, head to Caves Beach, and then Caves Beachside Hotel for a delicious lunch post-surf. Redhead Beach is the place for longboarders. Afterwards, order up a snack at one of Newcastle’s best cafes, Redhead Beach Café, because you’ve earned it.
Placencia is a laid-back beach town with colourful architecture and warm generosity, making it the perfect home base for Belize adventures. Get acquainted with the locals at Barefoot Beach Bar, then get out and about. Spend a night camping at the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll fall asleep to the sound of warm monsoon showers and wake up to rare birdsong in time to search for wild jaguars.
Next up: towering Mayan fortresses and natural, swim-friendly sinkholes. Journey to the ancient Xunantunich Mayan ruins with Barefoot Belize. These are some of the oldest and largest temple ruins in the country. And if you came for sinkholes, you’ve also got to snorkel or dive the famous Great Blue Hole with a Roam Belize tour.
Oman is a Middle Eastern marvel known to be safe and friendly, and you don’t have to stray far from the capital city of Muscat to reach desert dunes and picturesque canyons. Join a desert safari with Oman Day Tours to hike through Wadi Bani Khalid and splash in the mineral rich pools before air-drying on the dunes at Wahiba Sands.
You can’t visit Muscat without dining under the stars. Oman is renowned for its hospitality, and you’ll need to refuel with local eats. Pamper yourself at Desert Nights Camp. Luxury tent accommodation and outdoor dining and lounges are the best way to savour Oman’s endless night sky.
When you want to squeeze every last drop of excitement and adventure from this amazing planet, you’ve got to visit the End of the World. Located just north of Antarctica, Ushuaia is the place to do just that. In Tierra del Fuego National Park, hike to an icy blue lagoon and take in a scene few have laid eyes on. The next day, suit up in your glacier-exploring gear with Ushuaia Extremo and make the trek over the Albino Eye Glacier in the same park. It will make you feel like an Antarctic explorer.
When it’s time to put your feet up, ride the End of the World Train through lush, green valleys and snow-frosted mountain ranges. Sit back and learn of the region’s history and legends as you follow the Pipo River and pass through Tierra del Fuego. It’s a relaxing end to the trip of a lifetime.
Once you’ve reached the end of the world, what’s left? For an avid adventurer, there’s always a trail not yet walked and a new sea to swim in. Thrills and chills can be found anywhere, if you look for them. Here’s to the journey and every breathtaking experience along the way.