Some travelers prefer a relaxing, laid-back holiday spent reading, lazing on the beach or strolling through museums and galleries. Others can’t think of anything worse: They want to do things and burn energy while on holiday. If you fall in the latter category, the following places in the world for active sports lovers may be your dream destinations.
1. New Zealand
Rugby, cricket, golf … there’s almost no sport that Kiwis don’t excel at. You can participate in all these sports and more. The country’s dramatic mountain ranges offer winter sports like skiing while at the coast you can go sailing or surfing. Moreover, as one would expect from the country that gave the world bungee-jumping, extreme and adventure sports are huge in New Zealand too.
2. Alaska, United States
Alaska is nicknamed The Last Frontier. This untamed wilderness provides excellent opportunities for active travel and your choice of activity will depend on the season. During summer you’ll want to explore the great outdoors by hiking, cycling, mountaineering and kayaking. Winter is all about snow: It’s the season for skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.
Chile’s landscape is hugely varied and this means that there’s a variety of active pursuits to choose from. Whether you want to ski in the Andes or go surfing; whether you want to do some whitewater rafting or horse-riding, Chile has it all. Even better is that you can do many of these activities on the same day. Because of the country’s narrow shape, it’s only a couple of hours from the coast to the mountains.
4. Colorado, United States
High up in the Rocky Mountains you’ll find some of the best opportunities for outdoor activities in a beautiful setting. During summer, sports like hiking, whitewater rafting and mountain-biking will have you work up a sweat. Naturally the climbing is great too. In winter, satisfy your need for speed with skiing and snowboarding.
5. Costa Brava, Spain
If you want to spend some of your holiday time playing golf or tennis, you might as well do it in an absolutely gorgeous setting. The Costa Brava with its dramatic landscape of cliffs dropping down to golden beaches has some world-class golf courses, and tennis courts. Mountain-biking, hiking, and water sports are fantastic too. Its climate is perfect for sports too since it’s sunny almost all the time.
6. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Many people associate Dubai with shopping, luxury hotels and ambitious construction projects. However, it’s also a Mecca for active travelers. The warm ocean and the proximity of coral reefs make for great scuba diving and other water sports. The golfing is great too and if you’re worried about the amount of water used to keep the courses green, sand golf is a fun alternative. The desert dunes offer fantastic opportunities for sand boarding but if you prefer doing it the traditional way, you can go snowboarding or skiing at Dubai’s indoor skiing centre.
For hiking and cycling, you can’t go wrong with Iceland. The country is spectacularly beautiful and you’ll want to appreciate it while breathing in the crisp, clean air outside rather than looking at it through the windows of a tour bus. For something different, try glacier hiking or ice climbing.
With the world’s lowest population density and a diverse landscape, Mongolia offers you plenty of opportunities to be active without having to include tourist-dodging as one of your holiday sports. You can hike, climb the mountains, and go mountain-biking or whitewater rafting in the mountainous parts of the country or trek across the plains on the back of a horse or camel.
Costa Rica is Central America’s top ecotourism destination but its northern neighbor offers it all at a fraction of the cost. Go surfing on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast or learn to scuba dive in the Corn Islands. Trek through jungle or climb a volcano. Kayak on the Lago de Nicaragua or on one of the country’s many rivers. The country is fast becoming a premier zip lining destination: After all, who would want to pass up the opportunity to glide down a volcano at breakneck speed while hanging on for dear life? The country’s coat of arms features a group of volcanoes and if you want to try a uniquely Nicaraguan extreme sport, sure to go volcano-boarding.
10. Western Cape, South Africa
South Africans are sports fanatics and the country’s Western Cape Province is a wonderful destination for the active sports lover. Cape Town has world-class sports facilities and if you follow the coastline eastward, you’ll find many renowned golf courses too. Table Mountain is a popular destination for hiking and abseiling while kite-surfers from around the world flock to the windy beaches. The mountains further inland are great for rock climbing and canyoning or, as it’s called in South Africa, kloofing.