Are you an adrenaline junkie seeking out their next adventure? From scuba diving and whale watching to battling 450-kilo game fish or scouting for polar bears, we reveal the best destinations for adventure travel itineraries that are sure to get the blood pumping on your next superyacht cruise or charter...
The world's best diving destinations
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned diver, the 1,500-island Raja Ampat archipelago, off the tip of Indonesia’s West Papua province, is a must for any diver’s wish list. With 75 per cent of the world’s coral species and at least 1,300 fish species, dive sites here – particularly those around Misool in the south – are sublime. Don’t miss Whale Rock’s soft coral-laden bommies, Dunia Kecil’s beguiling swim through, and seamount Karang Banyangan’s schools of chevron barracuda and manta cleaning station. For a dreamy snorkel, make the short, sweaty trek to a marine lake filled with pulsating stingless golden jellyfish.
Afterwards, travel to the exquisite, uninhabited Wayag islands in the archipelago’s northwest. Here, spend a few blissful days diving, climbing to Mount Pindito’s glorious outlook, paddle boarding around orchid-covered karst outcrops and luminous turquoise lagoons, and snorkelling near black-tip reef sharks.
The Red Sea, Egypt
Another exotic charter location is the Red Sea, where desert landscapes contrast spectacularly with sparkling waters harbouring vast reefs. Expect to encounter 1,200 fish species (more than 10 per cent endemic), and your choice of hundreds of dive sites. The sea’s Egyptian coastline is one possible focus. Ras Muhammad National Park, near the northern resort town of Sharm el-Sheik, is a haven for marine life, including 200+ coral species. Here, a thrilling drift dive combines Shark and Yolanda Reefs, where you can photograph schooling barracuda and jackfish and investigate the scattered cargo of a sunken merchant ship. Nearby is the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm at 30m depth, popular for its intact military cargo and marine life. Further south, near Marsa Alam, is Elphinstone Reef, with plateaus, sheer walls, strong currents, oceanic whitetip sharks, and hammerheads.
There’s far more to do here than dive. From Hurghada, for example, take a day trip to the ancient city of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, and, from Marsa Alam, explore Wadi El Gemal National Park.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
For an entirely different coastal scene, organise a charter from Cairns or Port Douglas, Australia, to the 2,300km-long Great Barrier Reef. This coral reef ecosystem – the world’s largest – includes more than 3,000 individual reefs, 600 islands and 300 coral cays. At sites such as Steve’s Bommie in the pristine Ribbon Reefs, you’ll witness some of its 600 or more coral species and 1,600 fish species (bigeye trevally, yellow-lined goatfish, pipefish, anemonefish and more).
Step ashore to amble through Daintree National Park’s ancient tropical rainforest with a local Eastern Kuku Yalanji guide. Then, back on your yacht, scout for migratory humpback whales and, in June/July, possibly swim with a 5,000-kilo dwarf minke.
Another renowned pursuit is tag and release fishing for giant black marlin, which congregate off the continental shelf between mid-September and early December and can weigh more than 450 kilos. Some area charter yachts operate with their own chase boat equipped for this sport.
The world's best sport fishing destinations
Pacific Coast, Costa Rica
If you’re set on witnessing the aerial acrobatics of the world’s fastest fish, Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast is an excellent choice. Pacific sailfish season is regionally dependent: from around Playa Herradura south, the peak is January through April (which falls within the country’s dry season), while the more northerly Guanacaste region begins in May. Billfish here also include black, blue, and striped marlin, plus you’ll find dorado, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, roosterfish, and snapper.
When you’re not fighting fish, wonder at land-based wildlife: iguanas lazing on Los Sueños Resort and Marina’s La Iguana Golf Course, and sloths and howler monkeys in Manuel Antonio National Park near Quepos, another central coast fishing hotspot.
The Great Barrier Reef isn’t the only place for marlin battles. Cabo, Mexico – which includes fishing areas off Cabo San Lucas and the East Cape – is known for its blue, striped, and black marlin sportfishing, with the best action between May and November. Though fish (which include roosterfish, dorado, and more) may be your focus, squeeze in a kayaking session at El Arco, a massive stone arch at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific.
Nova Scotia, Canada
To struggle against the might of a giant bluefin tuna, head to the baitfish-rich waters off Prince Edward Island or Nova Scotia, one of eastern Canada’s maritime provinces. Tuna season begins here by mid-July and extends through October, with sportfishing day charters popular in the Northumberland Strait. Once you’ve caught a big one, consider a calmer diversion, for example, Green Gables Heritage Place in Prince Edward Island National Park, which inspired the setting for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, or a world-famous Malpeque oyster feast.
The world's best hiking and trekking destinations
Outer Hebrides, Scotland
The elements of a perfect adventure are a matter of personal taste. If yours involves single malt and stunning walks (along with secluded anchorages, wildlife, Celtic history, and Gaelic culture), consider the Outer Hebrides, an island chain stretching for 209km off Scotland’s west coast. After touring the Oban and Tobermory distilleries, cruise to the Isle of Skye (one of the Inner Hebrides) to climb a Cuillin Munro and sample rare drams at Talisker Distillery. Moving west to the Outer Hebrides, stretch your legs on the Bonnie Prince Charles Trail, which includes routes on Eriskay, South Uist, and Benbencula. Snorkel clear, invigorating waters on Harris; take in a sunrise at the ancient Callanish Standing Stones on Lewis; and marvel at breeding puffins in the Shiant Isles.
Craving more northerly latitudes? Book an expedition to Svalbard, a magical Norwegian archipelago of treeless Arctic wilderness, 1,300km south of the North Pole. Basking in the midnight sun, you’ll scout for polar bears, narwhal and walrus; kayak among icebergs; and trod into tundra. Another pursuit is ski touring, for example, across the Larsbreen glacier on the Trollsteinen run near Longyearbyen. Given Svalbard’s thriving polar bear population (they outnumber this archipelago’s human residents), an armed guide is necessary whenever you’re off the yacht, except within settlements.
San Juan Islands, USA
For more temperate pursuits, tour the San Juan Islands – more than 172 islands and reefs between Anacortes, Washington, and Vancouver Island, Canada. Orcas inhabit these Salish Sea waters year-round; you might witness breaching and other behaviours as you cruise to your anchorage. To satisfy hiking urges, journey to horseshoe-shaped Sucia Island, which has 16km of forested trails, as well as Orcas Island, where a steep trek up 734m Mt Constitution rewards with panoramic views, including towards snow-tipped mainland mountains. And for a gentle, enchanting wander, don’t miss the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park, near historic Roche Harbor.