Tropical beach vacations are made for relaxing. After all, a sand and sea retreat is ideal for escaping the hectic happenings of your day-to-day life. But, in between your umbrella drinks and cabana lounging, there’s a whole world of adventure waiting for you in paradise. Swimming with sea turtles, leaping off a waterfall, zip-lining through the air with panoramic views all around you… pick one bucket list item and make a day of it. Here are six of our favorite ways to find adventure and add a little extra excitement to your beach vacation.
Or 27 of them if you’re feeling truly adventurous! Located in the Dominican Republic, 27 Charcos de Damajagua (27 Waterfalls of Damajagua) is an unforgettable way to really get out of your comfort zone. After hiking up the forest and crossing footbridges for about an hour, visitors are rewarded with a series of waterfalls to slide down or jump off into deep aqua pools. The first several falls are thrilling for most, yet the final 27th is reserved only for the super adventurous. And if one looks a little too daunting—no worries—each of the big jumps have walk arounds, making it a perfect day trip for small groups, families, and couples with varying levels of bravery.
Explore ancient ruins
Chichen Itza is at the top of everyone’s must-see list when visiting Cancun and Riviera Maya. As one of “New Seven Wonders of the World,” this “young” 10th-century structure showcases the famous Mayan culture that brought us the infamous Doomsday Calendar and ritual sport sacrifices. El Castillo, aka the Pyramid of Kukulkan, impresses, especially during the spring and autumn equinoxes when shadows create a snake that slithers down the stairs. If you can’t visit during that time, the Sound & Light Show that takes places every night excites with projections and illuminations upon the ruins.
Take a hike in Hawaii
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to see the sun rise from above the clouds. If you’re up before dawn on the island of Maui to hike up Haleakala National Park, it’s actually possible. Meaning the ‘house of the sun” in Hawaiian, this spectacular view is an experience you need to see to believe. Bring your camera along to capture some of the most stunning landscapes and skyscapes you’ll see in your lifetime. One of the two volcanos that makes up the island of Maui, Haleakala is approximately one million years old with a summit that’s over 10,023 feet (and over 30,000 feet tall if you’re measuring it from the ocean floor). And if you’re not an early riser, don’t worry, the views are incredible all day long. From the lush waterfalls and streams to the Mars-like otherworldly red deserts near the summit, it’s a hike worth waking up for.
Swim with sea creatures
A tropical vacation isn’t complete until you’ve had the chance to swim, dive, or snorkel with marine animals. On the northwestern side of Aruba you can snorkel at Arashi Beach, Malmok Beach, or Boca Catalina, where you’ll meet barracuda, spinner dolphins, blue parrotfish, angelfish, and starfish. If you dive at daybreak, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot sea turtles. Over in Cancun you can swim with all sorts of sea creatures, but one of the most memorable has to be the whale shark. Between June and September, bold Cancun visitors can venture out into the Gulf of Mexico to swim with migrating whale sharks. The largest of the shark species (and the largest fish altogether), these spotted, slow moving gentle giants are filter feeders (meaning they eat plankton) and grow to an average of 40 feet long. That’s basically the size of a school bus.
Zipline across the rainforest
If you’re up for a little aerial adventure, the Caribbean has got you covered. From St. Lucia to Jamaica, there are plenty of options in several of the Caribbean island destinations. Created in the 1970s by biologists who needed an efficient and environmentally-friendly way to explore dense rainforests, ziplining is now a recreational activity found round the world. Once you’re very much secured to a harness and pulley, you’ll be suspended above an incline on a cable where you’ll be pulled downward, gaining momentum as you go. In Jamaica you can pass above waterfalls, rivers, and the lush forest canopy. St. Lucia offers thrilling options for adrenaline junkies. And Antigua has several ziplines including a multi-part experience that includes walking over a gorge on a suspended bridge—not for the faint of heart!
Book an overwater bungalow
Okay, this one is a little bit of a cheat because part of the adventure is all about where you’re staying. But vacationing in an overwater bungalow is a bucket list favorite for a reason. There’s nothing else like it. One of our favorite picks is the St. Regis Bora Bora, where each overwater villa features unique amenities, such as whirlpools, plunge pools, and glass viewing panels beneath your feet for a glimpse into the turquoise waters from inside your room. Try a signature cocktail at the swim-up bar, indulge in Polynesian-inspired cuisine at the four restaurants, and swim in the Lagoonarium—the resort’s private underwater sanctuary filled with tropical fish and coral. And if that’s not exciting enough, you can also arrange for off-property activities including deep sea fishing, jet skiing across Bora Bora’s aqua lagoons, and snorkeling with black tip reef sharks
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Please note: Travel requirements and health standards are continually changing. For up-to-date information, visit our parent company Flight Centre Travel Group’s COVID-19 Travel Map. Advisors, if you have any questions, always feel free to contact us. More important than ever, the travel experts at GOGO Vacations are equipped with advice and information to help you travel confidently and responsibly. If you’re a traveler with a question, please reach out to your GOGO-backed travel advisor for more information. Travel with us at Wheelock Travel.