When people make their New Year’s resolutions, they typically focus on breaking a bad habit, accomplishing a major personal or professional goal, or simply improving their life in general over the next twelve months ahead. But this January doesn’t just mark the start of a new year—it also represents the beginning of a whole new decade. And if you’re anything like us, that hopefully translates to a decade brimming with epic adventures and unforgettable travels. To ring in the New Year, we compiled a collection of some of the top adventure travel ideas for 2020.
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While all are geared toward the bold, some prove to be more daring than others. From soft adventure ideas here in the U.S. (like kayaking through South Florida’s expansive river network) to adrenaline-fueled exploits in faraway lands (like cage diving with sharks in South Africa), there’s something suited for every type of holidaymaker.
So what are you waiting for? Take a peek at some of the destinations and adventures outlined below to see which ones catch your eye. Then, pack your bags and set out to make 2020 your most adventurous year yet.
1. Explore Underwater Wonders in Fiji Turtle Island, Fiji
Turtle Island is a 500-acre private island nestled among Fiji’s Yasawa archipelago. With just 14 beachfront villas (known as
bures), privacy is paramount. Here, thrill-seekers can spend their days on guided hikes across the sustainable island’s lush landscapes, horseback riding through the eco-sanctuary, or soaking up the sun on its 10 private beaches. But Turtle Island’s best excursions are of the aquatic variety. Fiji is known as the “Soft Coral Capital of The World” and is home to unparalleled marine biodiversity. Snorkel alongside 1,000 species of fish, scuba dive past several hundred types of coral and sponges, or partake in a variety of other watersports like windsurfing, kayaking, or standup paddleboarding in the Blue Lagoon. Courtesy Image 2. Ski the Dramatic Slopes of the Dolomites The Dolomites, Italy
Dreaming of fresh powder and vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see? Then book a trip to the Dolomites mountain range in northeastern Italy. Part of the Southern Limestone Alps, the Dolomites extend from the Piave Valley in the east to the River Adige in the west, between the northern and southern borders of the Puster and Sugana vallies. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, book a ski safari package with Dolomites Mountains, an Italian-based adventure company that works with the best local experts. Retrace the tracks of past Winter Olympians while traversing the snow-covered terrain to some of the finest ski resorts in the world.
Anastasia Gubinskaya / Shutterstock 3. Cruise Along Australia’s Great Ocean Road Victoria, Australia
There’s no denying the romanticism of taking a good old-fashioned road trip. And while the U.S. is home to plenty of legendary routes, switch things up in 2020 by exploring one of the best drives Down Under. The Great Ocean Road is a scenic 150-mile stretch that traces along the southern coast of Victoria between the cities of Torquay and Allansford. The Australian National Heritage-listed experience is an iconic drive that crosses windswept coasts, secluded beaches, craggy cliffs, timeworn fishing villages, and colorful wildlife. During the multi-day outing, keep your eyes peeled for top attractions, such as the 12 Apostles, the Victorian Volcanic Plain, and Port Campbell National Park.
Yunsun_Kim / Shutterstock 4. Trek from Temple to Trail in Japan Shikoku, Japan
All eyes are set on Japan in the New Year as the country prepares to host the 2020 Winter Olympics. But beyond the sprawling metropolis of Tokyo exist countless excursions suited for every type of intrepid traveler. The 11-day Japan Multisport experience by REI Adventures is a perfect example, delivering a non-stop itinerary curated specifically for adrenaline junkies. The journey begins on the world-renowned cycling paths of the Shimanami Kaido and brings participants across six islands to the final destination of Shikoku. Encompassed by the 88-temple Buddhist pilgrimage route, Shikoku is an under-the-radar gem where daredevils can spend their days whitewater rafting, trekking, mountain biking—all while delighting in Japan’s beautiful cultural traditions.
Jesus de Alvaro / Shutterstock 5. Discover Florida’s Scenic Blueway Trail Martin County, FL
For a less far-flung excursion, plan a trip down to the Sunshine State and explore the newly minted Scenic Blueway Trail. The epic paddling route covers nearly 40 miles, spanning across two of the region’s famed river systems: the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie River. There are numerous public launch or stopover sites along the trail, making it easy to grab your kayak and kick-start your adventure. Along the way, be sure to stop and appreciate some of the region’s premier natural attractions—like the 51-acre Delaplane Preserve, Flagler Park in charming downtown Stuart, and Manatee Pocket in Port Salerno. The trail attracts all types of people looking for an active exploit, making it ideal for families and multigenerational groups.
Alex Couto / Shutterstock 6. Appreciate the Azores by Bike The Azores, Portugal
Cycling tours are on the rise around the world, and the trend is only projected to continue growing throughout 2020. If you’ve been before, you already know that cycling is one of the best ways to fully immerse yourself in an unfamiliar locale. And if you haven’t, then DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. has you covered. DuVine’s brand new Azores Bike Tour allows travelers to uncover the majesty of one of the world’s most buzzworthy destinations. Spend six days pedaling along Portugal’s idyllic São Miguel Island. Small but mighty, the island packs in plenty of awe-inspiring sites, ranging from dreamy coastal roads to volcanic overlooks and raging waterfalls. Other built-in experiences include sampling the provisions of Europe’s only organic tea plantation and joining a marine biologist-led Zodiac boat excursion to witness whales and dolphins in the wild.
Valerija Polakovska / Shutterstock 7. Adventure Through California’s Ice Caves Shasta Cascade Region, CA
Everyone knows that California is teeming with unique getaway ideas and active adventures fit for every season. But when it comes to winter escapes, there’s far more to do than just your run-of-the-mill ski and snowboard trips. One of the Golden State’s most underrated experiences takes place in the Shasta Cascade region of northeastern California. Here, visitors have the rare opportunity to explore the stunning Crystal Ice Caves, tucked away within the rugged Lava Beds National Monument. Embark on a guided tour of the area’s enchanting ice formations, or head to June Lake where ultimate thrill-seekers can go ice diving and explore life below the surface of California’s frozen lakes. Landlubbers can try their hand at ice fishing for trout at Caples Lake just outside of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock 8. Spend a Perfect Day at CocoCay CocoCay, the Bahamas
Looking for a destination that’s equipped to keep everyone in the family entertained? Head to CocoCay. Used exclusively by Royal Caribbean Cruises, the tourism hot spot is part of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas, which comprises about 30 islands and more than 100 smaller cays. CocoCay is now an adventure haven for families of all ages following its recent $250 million revamp, reopening to Royal Caribbean cruisers in May 2019. Some of the new attractions include Thrill Waterpark (which boasts 13 water slides, including the tallest in North America); the Zip Line (which stretches 1,600 feet in length); and the Up, Up and Away hot air balloon experience that soars to heights of 450 feet. A slew of even newer features are also in the works and slated to open in early 2020, including the Coco Beach Club, Floating Cabanas, and South Beach.
Joe Hendrickson / Shutterstock 9. Stargaze at Møns Klint Møn, Denmark
If the Caribbean isn’t really your speed, consider venturing to the Danish island of Møn, nicknamed the “Cold Caribbean.” The vastly underrated destination can be found approximately two hours south of Copenhagen, set along the Baltic Sea. The region’s top attraction is the 70 million-year-old chalk cliffs of Møns Klint. Møns Klint is not only a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, but it also owns the title of being Scandinavia’s first Dark Sky Park, meaning it’s officially one of the region’s top spots for stargazing. Void of light pollution, visitors can stay at Camp Møns Klint and sleep beneath a blanket of twinkling stars and galaxies overhead.
Gestur Gislason / Shutterstock 10. Go on an African Safari in the Linyanti Reserve Botswana, Africa
If experiencing an authentic African safari is on your lifetime bucket list, you’re certainly not alone. Why not make it a reality in 2020? Wilderness Safaris is scheduled to unveil their newly redesigned DumaTau camp in August 2020, featuring an impressive range of upgrades and enhancements. Located within Botswana’s exclusive Linyanti Reserve, the new DumaTau and Little DumaTau camps will offer an unrivaled view of the African country’s timeless wonders. The region offers a fascinating contrast to the Okavango, and guests are likely to see lions, hippos, buffalos, leopards, and massive elephant herds, along with many other species. Plus, the new rooms will double in size, offer private plunge pools, and expansive decks to soak in every spectacular sunset.
Anthony Robbins / Shutterstock 11. Surf Waikīkī Beach with a Famous Family Oʻahu, Hawai’i
In search of an escapade-filled getaway that feels worlds away but doesn’t require a passport? If so, consider heading over to our nation’s youngest state. Hawai’i is a nature lover’s paradise offering enough adventures to keep you busy for a lifetime. Of course, no trip to Hawai’i would be complete without surfing its legendary swells. On the spellbinding island of Oʻahu, surfers of all ages can book a private lesson on the shores of Waikīkī, led by a member of the Moniz clan (one of Hawai’i’s most famous surf families). Lessons can be tailored to any skill level, so even first timers can enjoy riding the waves.
Maridav / Shutterstock 12. Journey to the End of the World Patriot Hills, Antarctica
Everyone knows that Antarctica is not for the faint of heart. But it’s not completely inaccessible, as long as you have the guts (and funds) to make a trip possible. This new excursion to the southernmost continent is run by Epic Tomato, an expedition-led offshoot of luxury travel company Black Tomato. During the otherworldly polar getaway, guests will have the chance to develop a comprehensive understanding of the “White Desert,” which has yet to be fully mapped. Carve your own path as you explore the most extreme conditions on earth, climbing never-before-ascended peaks; snow-kiting over the untouched, frozen wilderness; and beholding the rarely witnessed Aurora Australis phenomena.
Song_about_summer / Shutterstock 13. Zone into Zona Maco Mexico City, Mexico
For an art-themed adventure in 2020, travel south of the border to vibrant Mexico City this February. Join flocks of world-renowned artists, collectors, and curators to partake in the 14th annual Zona Maco. Billed as Latin America’s leading contemporary art fair, the city bursts to life from Feb. 5 to 9 with a dizzying kaleidoscope of gallery openings, performances, and parties. Known to locals as
“la semana del arte,” the buzzworthy four-day fair is a treat for the senses. Although art lovers are sure to be spellbound by the diverse array of attractions and showings, navigating the celebration can get tricky. To ensure a strategic and comprehensive trip, tap one of Gyde & Seek’s local expert guides, like Fabiola, who can help curate an unforgettable, tailor-made experience. Sashenka Gutierrez/EPA-EFE / Shutterstock 14. Cage Dive with Great White Sharks in South Africa Western Cape, South Africa
If Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is basically a national holiday for you, then take the ultimate plunge in South Africa this year. Designed to accommodate both divers and non-divers, the Shark Dive is an experience you won’t want to miss. Guests will suit up and get their hearts racing as they sink below the water’s surface and come face to face with great white sharks in their natural environment. The cage-diving experience lasts about three hours and is led by the White Shark Project, a team with 15 years’ experience in shark research, conservation, and ecotourism. In addition to an adrenaline-fueled excursion, you’ll also learn more about the oft-misunderstood species. Plus, you can feel good knowing your money is helping fund additional research, which is crucial to supporting their ongoing conservation.
Jacques Star / Shutterstock 15. Go Storm-Watching in Canada Tofino, British Columbia
Sure, our neighbors to the north are best known for their friendly locals, zealous hockey fanatics, and the most delicious maple syrup on earth. But Canada is also home to glorious expanses of untouched wilderness and unique weather conditions that make it a top-notch destination for storm watching. For some of the best conditions in North America, plan a journey to the westernmost province of British Columbia. The Vancouver Island district attracts hordes of storm chasers each year hoping to witness Mother Nature at her most extreme. Tofino is a prime example, thanks to its exposed coast, void of any landmass between the coast and Japan. The unique combination of warm ocean breeze with the colder upper air masses makes for some of the best storm watching on the planet. For the quintessential Tofino experience, book a stay at the rustic yet elegant Wickaninnish Inn, a celebrated Relais & Châteaux property.
NelzTabcharani316 / Shutterstock 16. Pop Into a One-of-a-Kind Bolivian Bubble Hotel Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
Looking for a truly unique hotel stay? Then you may have noticed the uptick in the tourism industry’s latest trend: bubble hotels. These spherical accommodations make for obvious Instagram-worthy fodder, but also give guests a one-of-a-kind chance to connect with their surroundings. For a lavish vacation, journey to Bolivia’s famed Uyuni Salt Flats, home to the new, environmentally friendly Kachi Lodge. The collection of six geometric pods encircle the central lodge, offering unobstructed views of the striking, otherworldly landscapes. Adventures run the gamut from sunrise hikes through the wilderness, historical excursions to the ancient archaeological grounds of Alkaya, kayaking through rain season-induced lakes, and visits to local farms.
Courtesy of Kachi Lodge 17. Skydive Over South Australia Adelaide, Australia
The New Year is finally your chance to overcome that fear of heights you’ve been denying for years—and the best way to face a fear is usually to attack it head on. So quit dilly-dallying and book a skydiving adventure for 2020. While you’re at it, you might as well do it in a land bursting at the seams with outdoor adventures. Enter Adelaide, Australia, host of the next installment of the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s annual World Summit. Known for their delectable culinary scene and unique destinations (like the appropriately named Kangaroo Island), Adelaide also offers some of the best skydiving outings in the world. Book a heart-racing freefall with SA Skydiving (South Australia’s longest-running skydiving operation) to get a bird’s eye view over Langhorne Creek or onto the golden sands of Basham Beach.
Maxwell.Roche / Shutterstock 18. Celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial Portland, ME
Maine draws seafood connoisseurs from all over the globe in search of the best lobster on the Eastern Seaboard. But 2020 marks a momentous milestone for the Pinecone State as it gears up to celebrate its much-anticipated bicentennial. Throughout the year, the great state of Maine will host a series of parades, parties, and other special events all across New England’s largest and northernmost state. From March through October, the Portland Museum of Art will exhibit a special exhibit entitled “20 x 20: Marking 200 Years of Maine History.” Other noteworthy festivities include Augusta’s Statehood Weekend (taking place in mid-March) and the Tall Ships Festival (which will sail along the Atlantic Coast from June through July).
Sean Pavone / Shutterstock 19. Bask in the Ancient Glory of Petra Petra, Jordan
Both one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s no denying Petra’s mystifying allure. Originally built by the Nabataeans as a trading epicenter linking Damascus and Arabia, the ancient city traces its roots back more than 2,000 years. But the hub of industry and ingenius engineering was only rediscovered in 1812. Team up with an expert guide like Amelia Stewart of Original Travel to discover the site’s exquisite pink sandstone formations, carvings, and monumental tombs. The travel company offers a handful of custom-built tours that pack all of the highlights into one comprehensive trip. Needless to say, the inspiring destination is guaranteed to leave a mark on even the most well-seasoned world travelers.
tenkl / Shutterstock 20. Eat Your Way Through Croatia, Montenegro, and Macedonia The Balkans
Who doesn’t love a solid culinary adventure? Satisfy your tastebuds with a food tour through the Balkans, one of Europe’s most charming regions. Known for their rich culinary traditions, this trip by Intrepid Travel brings hungry globetrotters through Croatia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. During the gastronomic getaway, expect to witness verdant national parks, cozy villages, and the most spiritual sites in the Balkans. Some of the itinerary highlights include indulging in a traditional Kosovan barbecue; sipping
boza, a local fermented favorite; and mastering the art of the perfect pastry with the village women of Janche. After all, the best souvenirs are the ones you can eat. Rostasedlacek / Shutterstock
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