Travelling has many benefits. It provides an escape from everyday life and opens your mind to what’s out there in the world and how other people live. It provides opportunities to learn, to be enlightened and to push beyond your comfort zone. It’s a chance to try new experiences in a new landscape.
But let’s face it, vacations are also meant to be relaxing and rejuvenating. With the pressures of everyday life, vacations are meant to also help us decompress. So, what do you do when you are looking for adventure and relaxation? Luckily, the world has many places that offer that combination. You can go crazy during the day and then wine and dine at night. Challenge yourself to your physical limits, and then pamper your bodies at a spa.
Vacations can be both exciting and nurturing. Here are some vacations that are the perfect mix of adventure and luxury.
15 Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for being the land of flashing neon lights, high roller gambling, extravagant shows, happening night clubs and fancy restaurants. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. People go there to go wild. It’s Sin City. It’s an awesome place to party it up and live in style, but the area has a lot more to offer than The Strip. Beyond the blaring music and the bright lights, there are quite a few natural areas that are very accessible from Las Vegas. Explore the Mojave Desert. Take a hike in the Valley of Fire State Park and admire the amazing rock formations. Go rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon or explore the hidden springs around the Hoover Dam.
Tropical beaches, volcanoes, waterfalls and rain forests – Bali has it all. There is no shortage of places to explore in this Indonesian island paradise. Explore by boat and go island-hopping, snorkeling and diving. Take a trek through the jungle or visit Bali’s countryside. Explore the many waterfalls, temples and palaces. You can even try extreme sports like surfing, kiteboarding, climbing and rappelling. Take a break from all your adventures by staying in Bali’s many resorts and spas. Bali is well known for its spas and retreats, and some of the world’s most breathtaking infinity pools can be found here.
13 Cinque Terre
Cinque Terre, which means “Five Lands”, is comprised of five villages along the coast of the Italian Riviera: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The fishing villages, characterized by vibrant and colorful seaside buildings, are connected by an extensive trail system so tourists can trek from one town to the next. A number of climbing areas are also accessible from Cinque Terre. The towns itself offer a wide variety of scrumptious restaurants and specialty stores. The province of Liguria is also where pesto originated from, so make sure to try out a pesto-making class when you’re visiting.
Kenya is an amazing destination for those looking for the adventure of a lifetime, or even anyone who is simply fascinated with wildlife. You can go on a wildlife safari or visit Kenya’s many natural parks and reserves. If you are lucky, you can be witness to the wildebeest migration. For those looking for a physical challenge, Mt. Kenya will be waiting, or you can travel to Mt. Kilimanjaro to really push your limits. Lake Nakuru is also a sight not to be missed as it attracts vast quantities of flamingos, sometimes reaching even over a million at once. Kenya is well known for safaris, but safaris do not necessarily equate having to rough it. There are many beaches to explore and the luxury safari accommodations are attractions in themselves – ranging from luxury tent lodges to hillside resorts.
When you think of the Caribbean, most people have images of clear turquoise waters, pristine white sand beaches and clear blue skies. When vacationing in Bermuda, you get all of those things and much more. There’s a variety of luxury resorts to choose from where you can relax in the sun with a drink in your hand. In addition, Bermuda is also a prime area for adventure. You can go kayaking in its clear blue waters or snorkeling to see the thriving marine life. Go scuba diving and explore Bermuda’s famous shipwrecks. You can even go cave exploring and whale watching.
Turkey is a great place to visit if you want a mix of historical, cultural and outdoor experiences. Istanbul is home to many historical landmarks and would definitely satiate any cravings you have for eclectic cuisine. Relax and enjoy a traditional Turkish Bath, where you can even opt to book a massage. There are lots to explore beyond Istanbul. Visit Cappadocia and stay in their famous cave hotels, and maybe book a sunrise or sunset balloon ride. Explore Aladaglar National Park or hike through Saklıkent Canyon. For the water loving folks, you can rent a sea kayak and explore the coast.
Iceland, the land of Fire and Ice, is definitely an adventurer’s paradise. You can hike across Iceland, go ice climbing on glaciers, explore an underground lava cave, and even snorkel in a fissure between two continents. Just driving around Iceland is an adventure, with the seemingly endless amount of very accessible sights and waterfalls – from the powerful Gullfoss to the magical Seljalandsfoss. But even with all the adventures that await, you definitely would not need to rough it in Iceland. Reykjavik, a great base for all your Iceland adventures, is a very vibrant city. People there like dressing up and going out. There’s a huge selection of fine dining restaurants and an impressive art scene. Iceland is also home to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa in the middle of a lava field.
Maui is the second most visited island of Hawaii and considered the most luxurious. There’s a wide selection of luxury resorts in Maui, so if you are looking for a relaxing vacation in a tropical paradise blessed with a ton of waterfalls, pristine beaches and lush greenery, Maui should be your next destination. On the other hand, if you are also looking for extreme outdoor adventure, Maui should still be your next destination. Maui is, of course, famous for its beaches and surf spots, but there are also lots of hiking trails to explore and discover. You can climb Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano that is partly responsible for creating the Hawaiian isle, or explore Iao Valley State Park. You can also visit the Seven Sacred Pools, a popular attraction comprised of waterfalls and natural pools you can swim in!
7 New Zealand
If you are down for adventure, New Zealand should definitely be on your list. It was chosen to be the filming location for Lord of the Ring’s Middle Earth for a reason. With its unique and awe-inspiring vast landscape, the adventure-seeking traveller won’t be left without options.
Go spelunking and cave exploring in New Zealand’s Waitomo Caves (pictured above). You can go white water rafting from the forest to the sea, or even try out black water rafting, which is rafting through caves. You can even go bungy jumping, off roading, sky diving or zip lining. Don’t forget about the numerous opportunities for all sorts of water sports. New Zealand won’t leave any thrill seekers disappointed.
Vancouver is a buzzing metropolitan city in the west coast of Canada. Although it boasts of big city amenities like luxury shopping, fine dining and a vibrant night life, a lot of natural areas are very accessible from this city. In fact, some pockets of nature can be found from within it like Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain and Granville Island. You can go kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, wind surfing from the shores of Vancouver. Within a short driving distance, the mountain towns of Whistler and Squamish are just sitting a couple of hours away. There, you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing and downhill mountain biking. The winter time does not disappoint either as Whistler is home to a ski resort!
Banff is an awesome base for those seeking mountain adventures. Nestled within Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park, the town itself is surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Canadian Rockies. The town offers lots of amenities including a few luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, lots of shopping, and even a natural hot springs pool. The adventure seekers will discover numerous hiking trails with breathtaking mountain vistas, interweaving mountain bike paths, a number of rock climbing areas, white water rafting and many more. For the winter season, there are four ski resorts within a short driving distance from the town, many groomed tracks for cross country skiing, frozen waterfalls for the ice climbers and a whole lot more.
4 Costa Rica
Costa Rica, a small country in Central America, is home to lush jungles and awesome surf spots. Aside from surfing, it offers many more options for the thrill seeker – from canopy tours, zip-lining, white water rafting, kayaking, diving, volcano trekking, surfing and the list can just go on and on. It is a mecca for adventurers. Whether you like mountains, volcanoes, rainforests or beaches, Costa Rica has them all. Plus, this place that is packed with adventure is also home to the world’s slowest mammal, the sloth! Their cuisine is also something to look forward to.
Dubai is known for its modern architecture, luxury shopping and vibrant night life. The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall, with over 1,200 shops, indoor theme parks, an ice skating rink and even an aquarium! But even with all the luxuries that the city offers, thrill seekers are not going to be disappointed. You can go up to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and experience what it’s like to be in the sky. There’s also a couple of massive waterparks in the city, and even a ski resort. Yes, you read that right – a ski resort in the middle of the dessert. You can also go sky diving and off-roading in the desert.
If you haven’t been to Oregon, it should definitely be on your list. Oregon does not get the publicity it deserves and it is increasingly becoming more and more known for its restaurants, food trucks and craft beer. If you’re a shopper who is planning to visit Oregon, you can start celebrating. Unlike other states in the US, Oregon does not charge sales tax! But there’s more to Oregon than food and shopping, it is rich in beautiful natural landscapes. From a breathtaking coast to pristine lakes to massive waterfalls to volcanic mountains, Oregon has it all.
1 Galapagos Islands
Galapagos Islands, a province of Ecuador, is an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the best destinations in the world for wildlife viewing. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was even said to have been inspired by his observations in Galapagos Islands. Visit a tortoise breeding centre. Go snorkeling and swim with the sea turtles, manta rays and sharks. Hike the Sierra Negra volcano and see the world’s second largest crater. Then, sunbathe in the many beaches found along the islands. There are also a variety of luxury resorts to choose from.