Most of what we want ticked off our travel bucketlists are generated by the different things we see on our social media feeds. While we don’t want to miss out on what everybody else has experienced for themselves, there is a joy (and major points for bragging rights) when you go off the beaten track.
With each trip we fly off to, we are all hoping to experience an adventure of a lifetime, and from every corner and continent on the globe, the extreme outdoors are just waiting. So prepare yourselves to do the seemingly impossible. As for these destinations, brace yourselves for rough roads (or, in some cases, currents) ahead!
Shark diving in Malapascua
In our own waters, you can have your very own Jaws adventure—in fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can dive with thresher sharks almost every single day. Don’t worry, swimming with these sharks is relatively safe, but it does require you to have deep water dive certifications. Located in the heart of the Philippine archipelago, the Monad Shoal is a peaceful diving spot where you can really feel one with nature.
Swinging over the Bali jungle
As kids, everyone knew how it was like to fight over time on the playground swing. But if the swing was tied to coconut trees standing right on the edge of a hill, would you still have the guts to ride it? Ubud in Indonesia is known for its most Instagrammable spot, the Bali Swing, located in a hilly small village surrounded by dense palm trees. No helmets, no safety harness (except for their highest-level swing), just a rope tied to your waist and pure guts. Those who have tried it say it feels like you’re flying—or maybe you’ll just feel a lot like Tarzan.
Exploring Slovenia’s secret pools
Geology does wonders to the world’s landscape. In Slovenia, it has created pockets of hidden pools ideal for canyoning. Whether you’re into watersports or a complete noob, canyoning in Triglav National Park is an underrated European adventure you must experience. The entrance to Slovenia’s hidden and cooler waters are actually small waterfalls, and each of its rocky surfaces work like an adult waterslide, plunging you to the Balkan’s clear—and almost transparent—blue freshwater pools. If you wanna take it up a notch, go scuba diving—you might just find some sunken ships! Above the Slovenian canyons is a zipline that takes you across the lush greenery, giving you a 360-view of the region’s mountains.
Surviving Spain’s most dangerous hike
Andalusia’s Caminito del Rey is an ancient Spanish walkway that was built over a century ago. Caminito del Rey translates to “The King’s Little Pathway” and royalty had indeed strolled Spain’s mountains along this route. The original narrow concrete trail still stands although parts of it are slowly wearing away—forcing some mountain climbing action for its past visitors. But Caminito del Rey was recently reopened for hikers and safer bridges have been built over the old concrete pathway. It’s got a gorgeous view of the Gaitanes Gorge and you’ll find the ever-blue Guadalhorce river a hundred feet below you—but as hikers say, don’t look down! And while you’re in Andalusia, enjoy some limoncello that goes well with conversation with the locals.
Penguin adventures in Antarctica
You may never think of visiting the remote regions of Antartica, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. There are actually South Pole expeditions solely for penguin watching—there are actually seven species to see. There’s also the Classic Antartic Route that takes you around the winter wonderland landscape.
Living inside Finland’s glass igloos
Okay, so maybe you’re gonna stay indoors for this one, but it’s inside a glass igloo for crying out loud. As you relax on your bed at night, sinking in its thick blankets and fluffy pillows, focus your eyes on the curves of your glass ceiling and you won’t have to wait long to get an uninterrupted view of the dancing Northern Lights from Arctic Finland. Experience this when you check in the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.
Appreciating architecture, tilted
There’s one more thing to do when you’re at Chicago’s John Hancock Center Observatory other than get a glimpse of the city’s magnificent concrete jungle. Get on the ride called “Tilt” at the 94th floor of the building. The thrill ride makes you press your body against the glass windows before it goes down to a 45-degree angle, suspending you at a view that makes you feel like you’re about to fall. It does give you a different perspective of the skyline, and we think this is the closest thing that would make you feel like Spider-Man cruising along tall buildings.
Getting drunk on a train
There is an indescribable joy in hopping into a train without having to worry about a destination, fixing your eyes on the window as you move past the beautiful surroundings. The Napa Valley Wine Tour traverses through the Northern California railroad and is perfect for those looking for a gastronomic adventure. Its vintage vibe definitely makes you feel like you’re living a scene from a Wes Anderson film. It isn’t on the cheap side, but the wine train also serves fine-dining meals, perfect for romantic dates or just watching the sunset solo.
Swimming beside an African watering hole
Serengeti National Park doesn’t just have a safari-themed lodges, it is exactly that. There are swimming pools adjacent to watering holes, where you can see droves of elephants quenching thirst and cooling themselves. Your balcony views at this Tanzanian park is always a delight, too. There are herds of hippos and dazzles of zebras, and towers of giraffes freely roaming as hotels are located inside a game reserve. It simply doesn’t get wilder than this.