Top 50 Adventures

We’ve scoured the globe to compile our ultimate list of adventures. From helicopter rides to the top of the world to nocturnal glow-in-the-dark diving in the Indian Ocean, there’s something to suit all explorers

Elite Traveler

Superyacht Regatta, Various Locations

Cloud10 racing is the brainchild of Tony Rey, one of the world’s greatest yacht race leaders and coaches, who has competed in the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympics. With a wealth of knowledge about all things sailing (he began sailing at the tender age of seven) as well as insider access to the best post-regatta parties, Rey customizes racing experiences (including skipper, captain, crew, hospitability on the ground, and basically anything else you want) pegged around any major sailing event. With entrée to rare and exclusive regattas (Les Voiles de St Tropez, the Rolex Big Boat Series, the Hong Kong–Vietnam Race) and racing yachts like the P2 and Marie, Rey can arrange for guests to sail against Hap Fauth’s Bella Mente, George Sakellaris’s Rambler 88 or Mike Sanderson on the Maxi72 Proteus.

Swim With Whale Sharks, Los Cabos, Mexico

Outdoor adventure might not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of Los Cabos, known for its decadent hotels and lively nightlife. To fix that, the Resort at Pedregal created a ‘luxploration’ program to showcase the natural beauty of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula in absolute style and comfort. On your first day, head to the oasis-like area outside of the town of Santiago, where towering palms and lush vegetation are a stark contrast to the surrounding desert. Accompanied by a local dog to scare away any predators, your guide will take you on a challenging hike. Your reward at the end is a magical landscape where a river winds its way through a spot peppered with enormous boulders that look like they could tip over at any moment. Clambering over the boulders brings you to natural rock waterslides and swimming holes, where you can cool down. End the day at the Sol de Mayo waterfall, perhaps leaping from some of the cliffs if the water level is high enough. The following day, take to Cabo’s seas for an unforgettable experience: swimming with whale sharks. Don’t be afraid of these gentle giants — they are filter feeders, so you can get as close as you want without any risk. Spend hours snorkeling alongside them in their natural habitat before exploring a nearby town.

Samui Seascapes, Koh Samui, Thailand

Explore the tropical islands on the eastern coast of Thailand, known for dreamy beaches fringed with coconut trees and dense jungle. While Thailand is a year-round destination, we recommend visiting in April to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year. The only downside (or upside for sun worshippers) is that this is the hottest month. Escape the heat by diving in the waters of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan to spot the abundance of tropical marine life and coral species, or hike to Namuang Waterfall — muang means ‘purple’ in Thai, and the rocks that form the falls are indeed purple. Kayak enthusiasts will want to head to Angthong National Marine Park, a protected archipelago of roughly 42 tropical islands — the majority of which are uninhabited and undeveloped. Land your kayak on the beach of Koh Mae Koh and climb through lush tropical forest to see the gorgeous Emerald Lake, then spend the afternoon kayaking through lakes, along beaches and into caves.

Sea Lion Swim, Kangaroo Island, Australia

Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is perched on a secluded bluff overlooking a wild stretch of coast, with far-reaching views of the Southern Ocean and unspoiled Kangaroo Island wilderness. From here, a short helicopter ride lands guests on Thistle Island, where the Adventure Lady awaits to glide through the ocean to nearby Hopkins Island. Just offshore, get up close to the residents — playful sea lions — with a private swim. After this, travel to one of Australia’s best beaches, Memory Cove, where a personal chef will prepare a beachside lunch using local produce paired with local wine.

Underground Cave Dive, Tuscany, Italy

Grotta Giusti, a 19th-century villa and the former home of poet Giuseppe Giusti, guards what he and composer Giuseppe Verdi considered to be the eighth wonder of the world — a 130-year-old thermal cave with an underground hot-spring lake. The only way to explore this unique formation is with an underground cave dive. Three qualified instructors ensure complete safety while guiding guests into the water and through the curious underwater cave systems. Without fins, divers are able to climb as well as swim through the cave. The key section is a cleft in the rock running at approximately 20 to 30 degrees off vertical. The main pass-throughs are at 32ft, 60ft and 90ft — and are breathtakingly beautiful, offering sights unlike anywhere else on earth. The clear waters reveal ancient stalagmites and stalactites, and the super-brave can even swim in total darkness — fully submerged between winding cave tunnels, there’s a second cave that is only accessible by traveling through the underwater system.

Photography Tour, Norway

Photography buffs rejoice — this is the adventure for you. Join award-winning Lonely Planet photographer David Evans on an intimate 12-day tour through Oslo, Tromsø, the Lofoten archipelago and the North Cape. The activities are shaped around capturing the most photogenic locations and phenomena (including the mythic midnight sun) and David will offer his expert knowledge of travel and landscape photography, covering topics such as sunrise and sunset, long exposures, wildlife and macro photography, and postproduction of imagery. Nordic adventure operator 50 Degrees North takes care of the itinerary while providing insight into the local culture and history — highlights include a Hurtigruten coastal port-to-port voyage, king crab safari in Kirkenes, a private boat tour in Oslo and private sea eagle safari in a rigid-inflatable boat in Lofoten.

Aqua Expeditions, Vietnam and Cambodia

For travelers already familiar with Southeast Asia, and first-timers looking for an authentic experience, Aqua Expeditions has a luxury cruise that offers a deeper insight into the diverse history of the region by those who know it best. Your vessel is the 205ft Aqua Mekong, designed by the Saigon-based architects Noor Design using local sustainable materials and artisanal touches influenced by Mekong’s culture. The 13-day itinerary is tailored to suit your preferences, but highlights include daily excursions with professionally trained guides (many of whom grew up on the banks of the river), immersing guests in Mekong life with insider knowledge that only a native would know. Explore remote Buddhist temples, floating markets, the ancient Khmer temples of Angkor Wat, or Siem Reap’s Unesco Biosphere Reserve and floating villages.

Deep-Sea Exploration, Greek Isles, Adriatic Coast, West Indies

If you’re after a cruise but with a more intimate, small-ship experience, Crystal Cruises’ unique yacht size and shallow draft means its fleet is able to moor in secluded harbors, coves and islands. The all-suite, butler-serviced accommodations ensure guests are wrapped in luxury while exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations. The seven-day exploration travels through the Greek Isles, Adriatic Coast and West Indies, and if you’re more of a deep-sea explorer than an island-hopper, the yacht has its very own state-of-the-art submersible, which is able to dive to depths of up to 1,000ft.

Darwin Cruise, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

To protect the Galápagos Islands’ marine environment from overfishing and invasive-species introduction, Angermeyer Cruises and Andando Tours have partnered to create the Galápagos Conservation Fund, which benefits the charity WildAid. For every passenger booked, Angermeyer will donate $100 to the fund; once a year all the proceeds from a one-week charter will be donated (an additional sum of at least $97,800); and for all bookings made via WildAid, 22.5 percent will go directly to the organization’s programs in the Galápagos. Try a trip on Angermeyer’s 159ft luxury motor yacht — recently renamed WildAid’s Passion. The largest charter vessel in the Galápagos, it features a panoramic sky lounge, ample room for 12 passengers, and four incredibly spacious decks, including a secluded sundeck with a Jacuzzi. Activities on WildAid’s Passion’s four- to 15-day cruises include daily hikes, dolphin and whale watching, snorkeling, swimming with penguins and kayaking.

Angling Adventures, Northern Rivers, Russia

Russia’s Atlantic Salmon Reserve encompasses some of the very best salmon rivers in the world, among them the Kharlovka, Eastern Litza, Rynda and Zolotaya. Hundreds of big silver salmon are found there — over the last two seasons, almost 20 percent were over 20lbs, and even some monstrous 40-pounders were caught. The largely unspoiled rivers on the northern coast of the Kola Peninsula are an angler’s dream come true. Fly to Murmansk, where a helicopter takes you to your luxury fishing lodge in the wilderness. A Eurocopter helicopter will transport you each day, so within minutes of departing the lodge your guide will be showing you the best places to cast your fly for the biggest salmon you’ve ever caught.

Oyster Farming, Pyla-Sur-Mer, France

The serene views at Villa Serini are worth waking up for — rise with the sun and watch it ascend over the sea from the expansive stone patio. Or, go one further and take to the seas yourself for a unique fishing experience. Setting out in a flat-bottomed boat in the early morning with an experienced oyster farmer as your guide, you’ll wade in the water near his oyster farm at low tide. Learn the craft of oyster farming and about the mollusks’ life cycle, and attempt to pry them open yourself. Assemble around the farm table to taste the oysters you’ve just farmed while sipping on white wine specially chosen by Le Collectionist’s oenologist.

Paddleboard in Bioluminescent Plankton, Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

At one of Tobago’s most popular beaches, Pigeon Point, lies a mangrove-lined lagoon where a magical phenomenon can be seen come nightfall — the ocean lights up with tiny neon flecks. A type of marine plankton emits this bluish light, usually when their surroundings are disturbed, to create this magical underwater light display. The plankton can be seen in a few spots around the world (Australia, San Diego, Malta, Vietnam) but in Tobago, you can glide through the eerie glow on a paddleboard. The movement in the water makes the plankton light up — truly a once-in-a-lifetime sight. After a hard session on the water, we can’t think of a better place to rest your weary limbs than aboard a superyacht such as M/Y Gigi, an elegant 164ft Westport able to accommodate 12 guests across six cabins. More importantly, though, she comes in tandem with the support vessel Axis so you can continue your adventures with a three-man Triton submarine, fishing boats and an Icon amphibious aircraft.

Lionfish Hunt, St Lucia

Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet, architect and hotelier Nick Troubetzkoy’s resorts on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, are undeniably gorgeous. But they also reflect Troubetzkoy’s love of nature and are routinely recognized for their forward-looking water- and energy-management systems, local-food policy and recycling programs. Now the resorts are offering the chance to be a righteous defender of St Lucia’s astonishing coral reefs by spearing yourself a tasty dinner with the special ‘Invasive Lionfish Tracker’ diving course. A surge in lionfish numbers has disrupted the local ecosystem, damaging coral and other fish. On this experience, divers learn about the threat posed by this intrusive species before spearfishing them to enjoy a lionfish dinner (with your very own catch of the day) on the beach.

Fisherman’s Dream, Argentina

Argentina’s crystal-clear middle Limay River, a tailwater fishery that flows out of Pichi Picún Leufú Dam, is one of the world’s premier fishing sites. Running 50 miles through the Patagonian high steppe into the enormous Ezequiel Ramos Mejía lake, the middle stretch of the Limay has well-regulated flow and temperature, allowing for an abundance of underwater life and a variety of daily hatches — ideal conditions for huge and healthy populations of river rainbows, browns and fall migratory brown trout. Limay River Lodge, a luxury eco-lodge, is the only destination fishing resort on the banks of this tailwater and has exclusive put-in access. The team of dedicated fishermen, led by legendary angler Jorge Trucco, has more than 40 years’ experience and aims to make all your fishing dreams come true.

Undiscovered Ecosystems, Pacific Atolls

Home to some of the most remote marine ecosystems and best dive spots in the world, the South Pacific offers the chance to discover a yet-unknown species. With a marine biologist as your personal guide, you’ll visit Rangiroa, Fakarava and Tikehau in the French Polynesian Tuamotu Islands to search for undiscovered creatures. Fakarava especially features a unique untouched environment and is now a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. Expect to see blacktip and oceanic whitetip sharks, humpback whales and manta rays. Brown + Hudson can also organize private dives to other spectacular spots, deep-sea fishing expeditions and a visit to a pearl farm.