Top 25 Adventure Activities: 2014 Viator Travel Awards

December 20, 2013 by

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


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 2014 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, or gasp at the Hawaiian scenery on a , or tackle the longest zipline circuit in North America on a Cancun Extreme Zipline Canopy Tour. That’s not all – how about experiencing the Dominican Republic’s first zipline on a Punta Cana Zipline Canopy Adventure?

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. Down under, you can take a or a , then head over to New Zealand for a

3. Sandsurfing

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!

4. Swimming with sharks

Oahu shark diving

Oahu shark diving

There’s no better way to prove your bravery than taking a dip in the ocean with sharks so close you can feel the swish of their fins. Thankfully, you won’t be cast into the open seas to re-enact scenes from Jaws – instead, you’ll be safely inside a cage, able to return to the boat at any time. Brave the depths of the Atlantic to try Cage Diving with Great White Sharks from Cape Town or take an Oahu Shark Dive in Hawaii. Or go for the full adrenaline rush with a . Prefer your sharks a little less ferocious? The Nassau Shark Adventure is a 2-tank dive program which introduces thrill seeking divers to wild sharks.

5. Exotic car driving and racing

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, with a ? Speed freaks can reach hair-raising velocity with a Race Car Drive-Along: Rookie Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway Orlando or the Richard Petty Rookie Experience in Las Vegas, or you can make like you’re a movie star and cruise the open roads of the Red Rock Canyon Exotic Car Tour.

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 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 ; the runway is designed so that you run out of the Bungy Jump pod 400 meters over Queenstown. 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. 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. Go Black Water Rafting at Waitomo Caves near Auckland and you can navigate eerie caves, underground waterfalls and caverns filled with glowworms. Just don’t forget your life jacket!

8. 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, or 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.

9. Rappelling

Even more thrilling than climbing up a mountain, is rappelling, or abseiling, down one. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds though – you’ll need to lower yourself down vertigo-inducing cliff faces, scramble down rocky outcrops and traverse icy cold waterfalls to get to the bottom. For the most incredible views, try rappelling 180 feet (55 meters) beside Brazil’s mammoth Iguassu Falls with a Rappel Adventure from Foz do Iguaçu.

10. Extreme biking

Road to Pachacamac bike tour from Lima

Road to Pachacamac bike tour from Lima

Forget rolling through country lanes and leisurely pedaling the beachfront; cycling fanatics have plenty of more extreme ways to get their kicks.  Whiz down steep mountain-sides and weave between volcanic craters on a Waimea Canyon Bicycle Downhill or tackle untamed jungle and lava tubes with a Kilauea Volcano Bike Tour in Hawaii Volcano National Park; kick up clouds of dust as you tear down from the lava- encrusted top of Haleakala on a .

11. Horseback riding

You might not equate the glittering Strip of Las Vegas with outdoor adventure, but just outside town is a wealth of fun to be had in the great outdoors – especially when it comes to horseback riding. Earlybirds (or those who have yet gone to bed?) will love the desert light on a . If sleeping in is your thing instead, then the out of Vegas is a real treat. Europe, too, might not seem as much an adventure area of the world as, say, New Zealand or Costa Rica, but you can still enjoy the countryside with a or a . Hawaii is a natural fit for horseback riding, so make sure to check out a . And finally, OK, it’s not a horse – but what’s more adventurous animal ride than an ?

12. Tubing and rafting

Once again, Vegas may not be at the top of a watery adventure – but sure enough, out there in the desert is fun to be had. Try the or the , and have some real fun! In Jamaica’s Montego Bay, leave your rum punch-sipping lazy friends behind and enjoy a . And down in Belize, spend the day with a !

13. Snorkeling and diving

While snorkeling and diving are technically considered adventure sports, they are often the happy medium for couples and groups with different abilities and interests. So chances are, there are going to be lots of these adventures on your itinerary! And Hawaii is a natural fit for this activity – start with a , while the more advanced among you will definitely want to try the over on the Big Island. Perhaps the capital of snorkeling is Australia, which means that a is a must. For a real thrill closer to home, try a !

14. Off-roading

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. Zoom through the desert on a 4×4 Dubai Desert Safari, where you’ll enjoy a pit stop at a traditional camel farm; or cruise along the sands of Punta Cana in a Dune Buggy on a Punta Cana Half-Day Dune Buggy Adventure. Another half-day of fun is the , and the is a thrill if you’re on Oahu. For more of a sightseeing excursion with some adventure involved, check out the , while on the other end of the spectrum is the adrenaline-pumping .

15. Rock climbing

Yangshuo rock climbing

Yangshuo rock climbing

There’s nothing like the achievement of scaling a precipitous cliff-face with nothing but your bare hands (well, and a few ropes and harnesses). Rock climbing has become a hugely popular activity over the past decade, with plenty of recreational climbers giving the professionals a run for their money. How about gearing up for a Rock-Climbing Adventure from Denver where you’ll learn how to rock climb and take on part of the magnificent Colorado Front Range?

16. Water adventures

You’d think that Hawaii would be a hotbed of adventure fun – and you’d be right! And the ones we have on offer are both so futuristic, you’d think we were the Jetsons. First there is an , where you dive under the surface while riding your own self-propelled, electric underwater scooter. Then there’s the – where your jetpack launches you 30 feet above Maunalua Bay. Practice steering, elevation control, deep-water landings and walking on water! Down in the Caribbean is even more fun; check out a , or book a and see Los Cabos from a unique perspective.

17. Surfing and boarding

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? Of course, you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to wrestle with the waves – try ; take a ; or head to the gorgeous Isla Verde for a Puerto Rico Surf Lesson. Not quite ready to ‘hang-ten’ with the surfer dudes? Enjoy a gentler ride and try a , or go with the flow while .

18. 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. Enjoy an Oahu Rainforest Hiking Adventure where you’ll amble beneath waterfalls and ancient rock terraces. Feel like a challenge? Scale the heights of Japan’s most iconic mountain with a  where you can catch the famous sunrise from a height of 7,560 feet (2,304 meters). Down Under you can do a , or closer to home, head out on a from Vegas.

19. Glacier climbing

Franz Josef Glacier Walk

Franz Josef Glacier Walk

Few experiences are as otherworldly as hiking a vast glistening glacier, and is one of the best. Of course, there are plenty of other places to sharpen your ice picks. Take a Small-Group Franz Josef Glacier Walk along New Zealand’s famous southern glacier, where jutting ice cliffs, dangling icicles and natural hot springs make for a rewarding, unique trek, and if you’re a bit more adventurous, try ; or head to Alaska for a Mendenhall Glacier Trek and Climb, where you’ll be truly off the beaten track.

20. Skiing and snowboarding

Thredbo or Perisher Blue ski trip

Thredbo or Perisher Blue ski trip

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. Hit the world renowned ski runs at Australia’s best-known resorts on a Thredbo or Perisher Blue Weekend Snow Trip, where there’s an array of beginner runs, near-vertical black runs and challenging off-piste routes to keep all levels amused. Following winter down to the Southern Hemisphere? Then head to Santiago, Chile and take advantage of a . And if you want to go it alone, no worries – we can also hook you up with a , or in Australia, a .

21. Bridge climbing

Sydney BridgeClimb

Sydney BridgeClimb

Thrill-seekers don’t have to get out of the city to challenge their climbing skills – try clambering the rungs of these iconic bridges, where you’ll be rewarded with the best panoramic views in the city. The famous Sydney Harbor Bridge isn’t just a monumental landmark, the 440-foot (134-meter) high walkway is also a bucket-list favorite – attempt the Sydney BridgeClimb at night if you dare. Brisbane Story Bridge Day and Night Climbs are another popular choice, with views from the summit spanning the nearby Glass House Mountains and Lamington National Park, alongside New Zealand’s Auckland Harbour Bridge Climb.

22. Parasailing

If you prefer water to heights, ditch the paragliding and go parasailing instead, where you’ll be propelled 200-feet (61-meters) in the air on a hand glider towed by a speedboat. Book on a Cancun Parasailing Adventure where you’ll get an expansive lookout over the famous beaches and jungle of Cancun; take to the skies for a Maui Parasailing Experience where you can rise up to 1,200 feet (366 meters) above the palm-fringed Ka’anapali Beach; or try a  in beautiful Hawaii.

23. Deep sea fishing

Miami fishing cruise

Miami 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 Haddock, rockfish and Pollock 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; reel in enormous Hawaiian tuna on a Small-Group Sport Fishing Adventure from Oahu; or you could even liven up the experience, with a Miami Party Fishing Cruise where there’ll be plenty to keep you amused while you wait for your dinner to swim past.

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. Try a dogsledding experience along the ominously-named Troublesome Glacier with a Helicopter Tour and Dogsledding Adventure from Anchorage, or for the ultimate experience, check out Alaska’s World famous Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, where you can tour the race headquarters, meet the dogs and try your hand at driving a dog sled on a 7-Day Winter Alaska Experience: Anchorage and Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

25. 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 – a  uncovers a wealth of curious lava formations, dripping stalactites and peculiar rock formations, and a Batu Caves and Temple Tour from Kuala Lumpur reveals a fascinating series of underground Hindu temples etched into the mountainside. You can even go caving in the city – Budapest Caving Tours expose a labyrinth of tunnels and secret caverns right underneath the city’s residential district. The is nothing short of astonishing. For some cold-weather caving, check out the , or a .

-Viator Travel Team

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2 Responses to “Top 25 Adventure Activities: 2014 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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