By Jessica Thiefels
Relaxing is important while you’re on vacation, but for some people, relaxing means moving around—exploring, hiking, swimming and more. If that’s you, then the best way to make sure you’ll have an active vacation is to choose a spot that provides plenty of opportunities for the activities you love most—and these five locations definitely fit the bill.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is famous for its breathtaking scenery, and it also has plenty to offer for fitness-minded travelers. To stay active and enjoy panoramic views, take a hike up Lion’s Head. If you’re with a big group, head to Table Mountain instead, where you’ll find a number of trails for all levels:
“Hiking trails abound in the Table Mountain National Park and routes of varying distances are available to visitors, from quick loops to the Hoerikwaggo hiking trails which allow visitors to overnight on the mountain,” according to Cape Town: Discover South Africa’s Most Charming City.
If you’re not into hiking, cycle around the base of Table Mountain, go windsurfing or kite surfing in the bay, or spend the evening dancing at De Waterkant, Green Point and Sea Point.
Acadia National Park, Maine
If you love to hike, don’t miss this destination. Acadia National Park has 125 miles of trails to hike, with historical landmarks to explore along the way. With the tallest mountain on the east coast, these trails will challenge even the most experienced hikers. One of the most famous landmarks in Acadia is the original lighthouse built in 1958.
Travel and Leisure’s local expert Brian Kevin recommends the following day hikes:
- Cadillac North Ridge Trail
- Jordan Pond Path
- Acadia Mountain Trail
- Gorham Mountain Trail
- Beehive Trail
Mexico offers some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, making it the perfect spot to enjoy sunshine and beach sports. Choose from sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, kayaking, or even hiking and running on the beach. If you stay at an all-inclusive resort, you’ll likely be offered an even wider variety of activities to choose from at a great price.
Combine all your favorite activities on a one-day excursion. There are a number of boat trips that take you to islands off the coast for paddleboard, snorkeling scuba diving and more. In most cases, they also serve lunch so you can truly enjoy yourself with nothing to worry about.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is the mecca of adventure, with travelers being able to enjoy a wide variety of sports and activities in and around the canyon. For inexpensive adventures, check out their many trails, including the South Kaibab trail, which takes you seven miles down into the canyon. You can turn around at any point, making it shorter if you prefer.
If you want to step it up, book a white water rafting vacation or take a biking vacation. There are dozens of companies that take groups for one to two weeks—with everything included, from accommodations to food.
Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand
This trail covers more than 1,800 miles split into 160 tracks. That may be why National Geographic says this trail is not for the faint of heart. If you’re an accomplished hiker and looking for a way to see an amazing landscape, including seascapes, alpine ridges, and jungles, this should be on your adventure vacation bucket list.
Along the way, you’ll take in unforgettable landscapes ranging from ocean to forest. Check out Te Araroa’s FAQs to find out best time of year to visit, how long it will take to walk, and much more.
Not exactly a single destination, Competitours is an adventure company that sets up daily challenges all across Europe. In each one, you compete against other teams for a monetary prize. The challenges are fun and creative but don’t require exceptional physical fitness, allowing you to enjoy with those who may not be as fit as you. In between your challenges, there’s ample time to rest, relax, and explore the destination, so you get the full experience.
BIO: Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a lifestyle blogger. She’s written for Reader’s Digest, AARP, Lifehack, Tripping and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for money-saving ideas, health tips and more.