Our pursuit for new highs has caused the demand for adventure holidays and extreme sports to boom – we need to feel alive again and what better way to do it than to flirt with danger.
So if you’re an adrenaline junkie or just prefer to live life on the edge (literally), then you’re probably quite sporty too. That’s why in the first of our thrill-seekers series, we thought we’d take some inspiration from the Olympics and find out where the most awe-inspiring places are to visit whilst ensuring your blood is pumping throughout.
1: If swimming is your thing
For the ultimate island hopping paradise, why not swim-tour your way around the Greek islands or Croatia’s Adriatic coast. You can literally swim off the beaten track to experience some of the most beautiful scenery, isolated beaches, and dramatic coastlines. Swimtrek.com offers package tours to include accommodation, breakfast and lunches plus a safety escort to guide you for the duration of the trip. With 3-5km of swimming per day, these trips are perfect for those looking to get out of the pool or lido and discover the joys of open water swimming.
Further afield, you can enjoy tranquil beaches and discover isolated coves on the Baja Peninsula off the coast of Mexico. With water temperatures around 27 degrees you’ll feel like you’re swimming in a bath. Each day the swim covers 6km, passing the cliff faces and beaches of this Unesco-protected National Park paradise – expect to see Sea Lions here! The base camp on Espiritu Santo Island is more glamping style with cabin-style tents and solar heated showers. Taste the best of the local cuisine with chefs providing fresh food every day and a cocktail to watch the sun set.
2: If cycling is your thing
An Olympics sport since 1996, mountain biking has long been a popular holiday activity. For those feeling inspired by the pros, it’s easy to find affordable biking holidays. Skedaddle.co.uk offers a nine-day tour (vehicle supported) across the stunning Jebel Sirwa mountain range in Morocco, sleeping under the stars in the Sahara and camping with nomads in the mountains. The trip will take bikers past ancient kasbahs and traditional villages, with pit stops in the odd oasis to cool off in.
Closer to home is the Irish equivalent of Britain’s Land’s End to John O’Groats (Mizen to Malin). With rugged coastline, Irish music, unique landscapes and lively pubs, the 525-mile route is definitely a significant adventure, involving six days of cycling with around 85 miles tackled each day. Still, the trip is fully supported, meaning you can focus on the ride and the views, without the hassle of planning the trip independently.
3: If running is your thing
Marathons inspire people and combining a trip abroad with a 26-mile run is not uncommon for visitors to most popular cities. But hiking, trekking and trail running can mean you get to see some of the most beautiful locations.
Perhaps not for the faint-hearted or inexperienced runners, there’s a high-altitude run in the Italian Dolomites - also known as the “Pale Mountains”, a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps. The trails take you through breath-taking mountain scenery and uses historic paths and tunnels housing past memorials from the First World War. Nights are spent in cosy, well-equipped mountain huts where (and much needed) nourishing hot meals are served. You don’t have to worry about your belongings as during the day, your bags get transferred from hut to hut so you can enjoy the experience of running wild and carefree with minimal weight along the Dolomite’s most beautiful trails.
4: If sailing is your thing
Whether it’s sailing a yacht or catamaran or teaming up in a flotilla, you can sail almost anywhere in the world. Taking to the water offers a unique way of exploring off the beaten tourist tracks and getting access to spots that are difficult or impossible to reach from land.
If you’re a yachtie looking to live the dream then the island of Raiatea in French Polynesia offers the ultimate sailing experience in the most stereotypical of paradise surroundings. Impossibly remote and roughly halfway between Australia and South America, French Polynesia’s 118 islands are scattered over an expanse of the South Pacific Ocean stretching more than 2000 sq. km – an area about the size of Western Europe. Experienced ocean sailors will relish the opportunity to sail these calm waters in search of island-hopping adventures, and incredible oceanic wildlife along the way.
5: If canoeing is your thing
There’s easy-going, slow-paced paddling or conquering turbulent rapids – whichever floats your boat, there's something for everyone when it comes to canoeing and kayaking.
For a twist on the perfect paddling spot, why not canoe into the heart of the Amazon and continue downstream by canoe for several days. Camp on beaches along the way and do side hikes in search of wildlife where your local native guides give you legendary insight about a rapidly disappearing way of life. Going deep into the rainforest can be hot, sweaty, and muddy and generally challenging but the rewards are well worth it. Rustic and remote, this is not for the faint hearted.
It’s all very well and good discovering your inner Olympian, but make sure you do so with all the necessary protection. With Columbus Direct’s travel insurance, you get cover 150 sports and activities as standard, so if you're seeking a new challenge, we're the right insurer for you.