Looking for a little – or a lot – of adventure? Get out and go to one of these out-of-this-world locales.
1. Scuba in Aruba
If your outdoor adventures take you underwater, consider cruises to Aruba. The island is home to vibrant coral reefs and the second-most number of shipwrecks in the Caribbean. A diver’s dreamland! A few places to explore include Shallow Reef in the northwestern corner of Aruba. This site is for advanced divers only, because the currents can be extremely strong. The spectacular reef and varied aquatic life make this one of the top dives anywhere. Do not skip the Antilla Wreck.
This German freighter lies on her port side, where the bow of the ship faces the Island. The massive ship was purposefully sunk on May 10, 1940, when Germans invaded Holland during the World War II. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Caribbean, spanning over 400 feet. Also consider the Perdernales wreck, located 30 feet below the surface. It is a great site for beginner scuba divers, offering easy access to large sections of the wreck spread throughout the coral reef. Airplane Wrecks is a site that features the remains of two airplanes that were sunk intentionally to create an artificial reef. Finally, Jane Sea, near Barcadera harbor, is a 250-foot freighter sitting at a depth of 90 feet.
2. Raft and Craft in West Virginia
Rafting enthusiasts descend each year on West Virginia to experience the adrenaline rush of some of the Eastern United States’ best whitewater adventures. The rivers in the Mountain State pack a punch of excitement no matter your skill or courage. Most first-timers opt for the upper portion of the New River to get their feet wet, as it features mostly Class I and Class II rapids. For the more serious and experienced rafters, the upper section of the Gauley River, ranked as one of the top five rivers to raft in the world, offers an intense 13-mile ride of Class IV and Class V rapids. The start of “Gauley Season,” in late October when water is released from Summersville Dam, creates the most intense whitewater of the year. While you’re in the neighborhood, plan a trip to the unique Roadside Americana attraction dubbed The Mystery Hole. Looking for some authentic hillbilly merch? Take a pit stop at Tamarack Center, just off Interstate 64. This artisan hub is definitely not your typical restroom stop. The sprawling, sparkling-clean facility offers handcrafted Appalachian gifts, and it’s where top-notch chefs meet down-home cuisine in such celebrated dishes as fried green tomato sandwiches from the world-renowned Greenbrier resort. If you think about it, next-level shopping is an adventure of its own.
3. No Naps Allowed in Lapland
Northern Finland, known as Lapland, is a year-round adventurer’s paradise. Most people conjure up Arctic Circle images of snowy landscapes, saunas and reindeer. If that’s all you require, you won’t be disappointed by the snowmobile safaris, snowshoeing or dog sledding through the frozen forests. But in summertime, Lapland is a place that never sleeps, because the sun is actually up for 24 hours a day from May until August. That leaves plenty of time for jet skiing, horseback riding, swimming, hiking and biking. Another big draw to Lapland is the Aurora Borealis. Visible on 200 nights a year, the Northern Lights are a magical display that many call a once-in-a-lifetime experience. In towns such as Rovaniemi, there are igloos made of glass where you can witness this unique phenomenon in comfort. Into extreme winter sports? Join a native for ice hole swimming, a Finnish tradition since the 17th century.
4. Spelunk a Chunk of Tasmania
Tasmania, the island state of Australia, has some of the deepest and longest caves with more than 4,000 caves to explore. Underground rivers and deep vertical cavities with amazing natural displays can be found across the island. Mole Creek National Park and Gunns Plains Caves National Preserve are among the many limestone cave networks – known as karst by the locals – that draw spelunkers from around the world. Why Tasmania? Just tell friends that the “devil” made you you do it.
The world awaits you. Now, get out there!