Top 25 Adventure Activities: 2015 Viator Travel Awards

December 11, 2014 by

Action, Adventure & Adrenaline, Travel Advice & Inspiration, Viator Travel Awards

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Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Viator Travel Awards, an annual awards competition where we – along with our readers, travelers, and fans – select the top things to do and see in each of the major regions we serve, the top things to do in our most popular tour categories, and more.

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Welcome to the 2015 Viator Travel Awards: Adventure Activities Edition, your indispensable guide to adrenaline-pumping (some might say, fear-inducing), heart-pounding activities around the world. The following list represents the most popular adventure activities offered around the world, with tips on where you can do each one both near and far from home.

1. Ziplining

Remember careening through the playground on a swinging tire as a kid? Well, ziplining has had a bit of a makeover since then – these days treetop ziplines reach dizzying heights and you can zoom through the air at break-neck speeds, all while securely attached to a safety harness. Get the ultimate adrenaline rush on a Bootleg Canyon zipline tour. Tackle the longest circuit in North America on a Cancun Extreme zipline canopy tour. Soar through a UNESCO-listed habitat with a Daintree Rainforest zipline and wildlife day trip from Cairns. Ride through a tropical paradise during a canopy tour in Jamaica, either in Montego Bay or Negril. Get your adrenaline pumping with a Kipu zipline safari visit that includes rope swings, canoeing, waterfalls, and – yes – ziplining.

2. Skydiving

Las Vegas skydive

Skydiving in Las Vegas

When it comes to adrenaline-pumping activities, few things beat launching yourself out of an airplane and plummeting through the air on a breathtaking freefall, but as the parachute unfolds you’ll be able to catch your breath and admire the incredible views. Get a bird’s eye view of the glittering lights of the Las Vegas Strip with a Las Vegas Tandem Skydive. Head over to New Zealand for a Queenstown Skydive. Go on a tandem skydive in Miami for a completely different viewpoint of the gorgeous beaches. Enjoy the views of Colombia’s mountains and forests during a Bogota tandem skydiving trip.

3. Animal encounters

Oahu shark diving

Shark diving

There’s no better way to get your heart racing while simultaneously getting up close and personal with nature than during an encounter with a wild animal. Thankfully, there are safe ways to do that when you’re on vacation, so you’ll not only have a thrilling experience – you’ll live to tell the tale. Choose to swim with dolphins on Isla Mujeres from Cancun to get a close-up look at this perfectly playful creatures. Explore the Khao Yai National Park from the back of an elephant on a day trip from Bangkok. Take a dip into pristine waters to go snorkeling with stingrays at Gibbs Cay in Grand Turk. Brave the depths of the Atlantic to try Cage Diving with Great White Sharks from Cape Town.

4. Sandboarding

Forget walking across the sand dunes – the most entertaining way to get around in the desert is by sliding downhill on a sandboard. The summer alternative to snowboarding, sandboarding has fast become a popular activity, but if you can’t get your balance, don’t worry – you can always sit on the board and sled downhill instead! Try a Dubai 4×4 Sandboarding Safari for a little of two desert activities. Head into the surreal landscape of the Pinnacles Desert from Perth to go sandboarding and see koalas at a wildlife park. Hike to the top of the Cerro Negro Volcano in Nicaragua and sandboard back down.

5. Caving

Iceland cave tour

Exploring Iceland’s caves

While not one for the claustrophobic, if crawling through narrow rock crevices, swimming in eerily-lit underground pools and scrambling through pitch black caves sounds like your idea of an adventure, grab a headlamp and a crash hat, and head underground. Caving is not only a challenge, but a chance to discover some otherworldly scenery. Explore the many levels of chambers underneath residential areas during a small-group Budapest caving tour. Swim into a cave ancient Mayas believed was a portal to the underworld with a visit to the Actun Tunichil Muknal Caves from San Ignacio. See an underground river and crystalline formations on a Rio Secreto Underground River and Crystal Caves tour. Go rafting and tubing over underground waterfalls on a tour of the Black Water Waitomo Caves. Let the lights of thousands of glow worms enchant you during a trip to the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves.

6. Bungy jumping

Auckland Harbour Bridge bungy jump

Auckland Harbour Bridge bungy jump

If nose-diving through the air like a human yoyo sounds like fun, you’re sure to have bungy jumping on your to-do list. Whether you want the ultimate death-defying plunge with your nose skimming the floor or a short-and-sweet drop, there are a range of locations around the world that will help you live out your bungying aspirations. The Original Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump in Queenstown was the world’s first public bungy jump and at 141-feet (43-meters) it’s the perfect way to experience the activity. Not to be outdone, of course, there is also the Queenstown Ledge Urban Bungy Jump – the runway is designed so that you run out of the Bungy Jump pod 400 meters over Queenstown. Cairns offers a combination package with the Cairns Bungy Jump and Minjin Swing. The Auckland Harbour Bridge Bungy Jump is also a popular choice, but for the ultimate in extreme jumps, try the mega 440-foot (134-meter) drop at Queenstown Nevis Highwire Bungy Jump with a scream-worthy 8.5 seconds of freefall.

7. Paragliding

For an extreme sport that’s more tranquil than terrifying, experiencing the feeling of floating in mid-air with a tandem paragliding excursion, harnessing the power of the wind to propel your parachute. Launch off the 5,380 feet (1,615 meters) summit of Cerro Arco on a Mendoza Paragliding Tour and soar over the Andean landscape. You can also head to Colombia, where you can gaze down at the matchbox-sized houses of the city on a Bogotá Paragliding Adventure or swoop over alpine valleys and craggy mountains on a Medellín Paragliding Tour. Try a tandem paragliding trip in Malibu to soar over the Pacific Ocean. Take to the skies over Turkey to see the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Lagoon at Ölüdeniz with a tandem paragliding experience from Fethiye.

8. Flying (with a jetpack)

Flyboarding

Flyboarding

The future is here, and we still don’t have jetpacks… Or do we? True, we’re not commuting to work with jetpacks, but you can experience the miracle of jetpack-enhanced flight while on vacation. And these contraptions can be strapped to your back or your feet. Take that, George Jetson. Start with a “traditional” jetpack experience in Cancun or a jetpack experience in Oahu, both of which lift you 30 feet out of the water with a pack you can control. When you’ve mastered that, move on to a Cancun flyboard experience or a Miami flyboard experience, with the jetpack strapped to the bottom of a small board that’s strapped to your feet.

9. Combination tour packages

Sometimes there are too many things to choose from when you’re on vacation, and no good way to decide which to do and which to skip. Luckily, with some adventure destinations, you don’t have to choose. Many places offer combination packages that include multiple activities designed to keep adrenaline junkies happy for hours on end. Combine a sightseeing cruise of the Sarapiqui River with a zipline canopy tour in Costa Rica. Enjoy chances to go ziplining, swimming, and paddleboarding at Ka’anapali on Maui. Explore the highs and lows in Belize with a zipline rainforest canopy tour at Jaguar Paw and Crystal Cave tubing excursion afterward. Go for a zipline tour and horseback riding in Puerto Plata. Head into the desert from Dubai for an overnight safari including sandboarding, camel rides, belly dancing, and a BBQ dinner.

10. Kayaking

When the most beautiful places are only accessible by boat, then you get in a boat. Kayaking into secret caves and coves has become popular worldwide, giving you a chance to see places you never could before. Explore the Ang Thong National Marine Park in Koh Samui by kayak, including breakfast and lunch. Kayak around the Marjan Peninsula and nearby islands from Split to see the Dalmatian region’s most beautiful coastline. Take a leisurely kayak tour of Kailua Bay, either a self-guided trip or with an expert local guide. Head out from Bermuda on a catamaran cruise to go snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking – or simply to swim and play on the beach. Join a small group in a hidden cove near Los Cabos to go kayaking, snorkeling, and stand-up paddleboarding while you look for turtles, dolphins, and rays.

11. Biking

Road to Pachacamac bike tour from Lima

Extreme downhill biking

Forget rolling through country lanes and leisurely pedaling the beachfront – cycling fanatics have plenty of more interesting ways to get their kicks. See the massive Hoover Dam on a mountain bike tour. Take a guided mountain bike tour of the Mustang Trail in Red Rock Canyon including transport from Las Vegas. Get off the beaten path into the lower parts of the Austrian Alps with a mountain bike tour of the Vienna Woods. Indulge your need for speed with a downhill Blue Mountain bike tour on a day trip from Ocho Rios, followed by stops at a coffee roaster and a waterfall. Pull out all the stops for a thrilling mountain bike tour of the “World’s Most Dangerous Road” in Bolivia.

12. Snorkeling

While snorkeling might technically be considered an adventure sport, and it’s also the happy medium for couples and groups with different abilities and interests. So chances are, there are going to be lots of snorkeling adventures on your itinerary! Hawaii is a natural fit for snorkeling – start with a Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Adventure Half-Day Tour. Imagine how the other half lives for a day with a catamaran cruise in the Bay of Sosua for snorkeling adventures near hidden beaches. Combine sea kayaking and snorkeling on a small-group tour from Dubrovnik. Enjoy a tour of Mayan ruins, snorkeling, and dancing on a catamaran day cruise from Cancun. Perhaps the capital of snorkeling is Australia, which means that a Great Barrier Reef Diving and Snorkeling Cruise from Cairns is a must.

13. Tubing

Tubing adventure

Tubing adventure

Water can be about adventure, it can be about relaxation, or it can be a combination of the two. Going tubing is often just such a combination – one minute you’re lazily drifting down a sleepy river, the next you’re on a whitewater thrill ride. In Jamaica’s Montego Bay, leave your rum punch-sipping lazy friends behind and enjoy a Jungle River Tubing Safari. Take to the Kauai backcountry on a tubing adventure through a former sugar plantation’s irrigation canals. Zoom along on a Bali canyon tubing adventure over crystal clear waters with an optional zipline. Don a helmet for a Jamaica river tubing adventure on the Rio Bueno, floating over rushing rapids, or an Ocho Rios White River Valley tubing safari, where you’ll find yourself in peaceful lagoons in between rapids.

14. Submarine adventures

Submarines aren’t just for scientists and the military anymore – there are smaller subs, even personal subs, which you can make a part of your upcoming travel plans. In Hawaii, try the Oahu Submarine Scooter Adventure, where you dive under the surface while riding your own self-propelled, electric underwater scooter. You can also let someone else do the driving with a Maui Atlantis submarine adventure, an underwater tour in a submarine. There’s a similar activity in Cozumel on the Atlantis Submarine expedition, allowing you to explore a marine park, and in Egypt where the Sinbad Submarine takes you under the Red Sea. Get back in control with your own mini-submarine on a Nassau SUB Bahamas adventure.

15. Rafting

Whether hurtling downstream or navigating treacherous rapids that threaten to overturn your dingy, river rafting is an exhilarating way to get your pulse racing and your clothes soaking. Grab a paddle, hop in an inflatable raft and explore some of the world’s most daringly turbulent waters. Vegas may not seem like the best place to go for a water adventure, but it is – try the Black Canyon River Rafting Tour or the Grand Canyon White Water Rafting Trip from Las Vegas. Go on a river rafting tour after an elephant jungle trek near Chiang Mai. Up the adrenaline factor with a white water rafting adventure and visit to the Elephant Safari Park, Bali’s largest park for rescued elephants. Spend a day white water rafting on the Tully River from Cairns, including a BBQ lunch.

16. 4×4 adventures

Desert safari

Desert safari

If you want to go off-road and traverse the wilderness, you’ll need an all-terrain vehicle to handle the twist, turns and bumps of the ever-changing terrain. Luckily, you don’t always need the driving skills to handle one. Off-roading is a popular pastime in the U.A.E. for locals and tourists alike, so you have some options to choose from – a basic 4×4 Dubai Desert Safari includes a pit stop at a traditional camel farm, or you could choose a more extensive 4×4 Abu Dhabi desert safari with a camel ride, dinner, and belly dancing. Take a break from pretty Sorrento to ride a 4×4 up Mt. Vesuvius for hiking, wine tasting, and lunch. Take an eco-adventure tour of the Indigenous Eyes Ecological Park in Punta Cana in a 4×4 buggy. Ride a 4×4 all-terrain-vehicle at El Calafate into Los Glaciares National Park.

17. Hiking

The ultimate in back-to-nature eco-friendly activities, there’s no better way to fully experience a landscape than by trekking through it, and the world is teeming with photo-worthy hiking routes. You can escape the neon with a Red Rock Canyon Hiking Tour from Las Vegas. Explore the beautiful El Yunque Rainforest on a hiking trip from San Juan in Puerto Rico. Climb one of Mexico’s tallest mountains with a hike on the Iztaccihuatl Volcano, with transport from Mexico City. Learn the unique challenges of hiking on ice with a day trip from Reykjavik to go glacier hiking and ice climbing on the Sólheimajökull Glacier. And if you’re a bit more adventurous, try Heli Hiking Franz Josef.

18. Snow adventures

Thredbo or Perisher Blue ski trip

Ski adventures

Whether you’re a powder junkie or a ski virgin, there are excellent ski resorts all over the world where you can polish your moves – even if those moves involve walking on snow or ice rather than zipping down a ski run. Get out of the big city with a day trip to go skiing or snowboarding from New York City. Join a small group guided tour to hike the Johnston Canyon Icewalk in Banff. Explore a national forest and Oregon’s tallest mountain on a Mt. Hood snowshoe adventure from Portland. Get a guided snowshoe hiking tour of Yosemite to see this unforgettable park during its beautiful winter season. Spend an evening on a night adventure in Ushuaia, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and sled riding.

19. Parasailing

If paragliding seems like it’s a bit too far away from the ground for your tastes, maybe you’d like to try parasailing. You’re flying several hundred feet in the air, and always above water. Consider it the gateway drug to paragliding. Book a Cancun Parasailing Adventure where you’ll get an expansive lookout over the famous beaches and jungle of Cancun. Try a Big Island Parasailing Experience in beautiful Hawaii. Go flying with your sweetheart on a tandem parasailing adventure in Key West, or on an Oahu parasailing tour from Honolulu. You don’t even have to be on an ocean to go flying – you can go parasailing at South Lake Tahoe.

20. Surfing

If you’ve always envied the tanned surfers waxing their boards and spouting surf lingo, now’s the time to learn to catch some waves for yourself. In a country where over half the population live near the beach, surfing is a national pastime in Australia, so what better place to learn the ropes than with Surfing Lessons on Sydney’s Bondi Beach? You can extend your time in the water with a five-day Sydney to Byron Bay surfing adventure. Of course, Hawaii is no stranger to surfing experts, either – try Maui Surf School Surfing Lessons, surfing lessons in Kauai, or surfing lessons in Oahu with round-trip transportation from Waikiki.

21. Car driving

Sports car racing adventure

Sports car racing adventure

Whether you fancy making like James bond in a vintage Aston Martin or tearing up the tarmac in a made-for-speed race-car, why not live out your motoring fantasies in style on your next vacation? In Las Vegas, you can choose from a Richard Petty ride-along experience or learn the tricks of the race driver trade with a Richard Petty Rookie Experience in Las Vegas. You can also get behind the wheel of a sports car – such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris – in several different places around the world, including the race car driving experience at Cancun Speedway, the Los Angeles sports car driving experience, and the exotic car driving experience in Las Vegas.

22. Horseback riding

Going for a horseback ride through beautiful natural scenery gives you a chance to get in touch with nature in a new way. Wildlife won’t hear the motor of a 4×4, and they’ll smell the horse as another animal – you may be surprised at how much you get to see. Go on a horseback riding tour in Puerto Plata along with a zipline tour of the jungle. Take a break from slot machines with a Morning Maverick Horseback Ride with Breakfast in Las Vegas. If you prefer sleeping in, then the Wild West Sunset Horseback Ride with Dinner out of Vegas is a real treat. In Costa Rica, you can combine the adrenaline-pumping activity of ziplining with a horseback ride and hot springs at the Vida Aventura Park in Guanacaste.

23. Adventure parks and scavenger hunts

Some people like to laze by the pool on vacation. Adventure travelers do not. When you want your trip to be all about activities to keep you moving and keep your heart pumping, then look for adventure parks and interactive games you can play. At Agroventures Rotorua in New Zealand, you can spend the day enjoying a theme park where the thrill rides are each like extreme sports. And with the Amazing Cozumel Race you can join a small group tour and scavenger hunt without needing to send in a video application or worry about not getting chosen for a reality show.

24. Fishing

Miami fishing cruise

Fishing cruise

Whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced fisherman, the thrill of catching your own dinner is irresistible – just make sure you pick a gorgeous landscape to gaze at while you wait for the fish to bite. Soak up the coastal charms of Reykjavik as you fish for hailbut, cod, haddock, and more in the nearby Faxaflói bay with a Sea-Fishing Tour from Reykjavik. Barbecue your fresh catch as you float the waves near California’s famous Newport Beach on a Half-Day Deep-Sea Fishing Cruise from Newport Beach – and you can upgrade to a full-day deep-sea fishing cruise from Newport Beach, too, if a half-day just isn’t enough. Head out from Orlando to Clearwater Beach to go deep-sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. Join in one of Hokkaido’s most popular winter activities – ice fishing on the Barato River on a day trip from Sapporo.

24. Dogsledding

Hurtling across snow-blanketed terrain at peak speed behind a team of zealous huskies is one surefire way to get your blood pumping and experience the winter scenery up close. Alaska is the undisputed king of dogsledding, or mushing, as the sport is known, with a long history of raising huskies and navigating the freezing terrain. You can take a helicopter tour over the Juneau icefield, with a dogsled ride when you land at a remote glacier camp.

-Viator Travel Team

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2 Responses to “Top 25 Adventure Activities: 2015 Viator Travel Awards”

  1. Thomas Says:

    Ziplining and swimming with Shark is something new for me, anyways nice post and images :)

  2. Sorin Says:

    Bungee jumping, Shark diving, Hiking ( Kilimanjaro) – all done in 2013. Skydiving is on my list in 2014!

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