Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Rarotonga, Cook Islands
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Copper Canyon, Mexico
Moorea, French Polynesia
You have already been to Italy, maybe even twice. You’ve gone to Florida more times than you can count.
You live big, you work crazy hard and you take risks. You are ready for a vacation that matches your curiosity, your desire for newness, your sense of adventure. You want to explore some place more grand, more remote and more exotic than anywhere you have ever been before.
We scoured TripAdvisor's searchable database for some of the most epic vacation destinations out there and picked our 10 favorites. Here they are, in no particular order, for your adventure inspiration.
The Galapagos Islands are a series of volcanic land masses in the Pacific Ocean about 375 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The once underwater volcanos, which poked their heads above the surface between five and 10 million years ago, are home to a diverse set of animals and plants that exist exactly nowhere else and inspired the research of famed evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin. The islands are home to many sea turtles, sea lions, penguins and lizards.
You have probably been to Niagara Falls on the border of New York State and Canada, but Victoria Falls, in the Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe, is even bigger and more impressive. The waterfall, which lies on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, has been gushing for more than 2 million years, is more than 330 feet high and a mile across. During the high season, which runs from February to April, Victoria Falls is considered the largest curtain of falling water in the world.
Adventurous vacationers will have no shortage of activities to keep their level of adrenaline pumping through the roof. In addition to viewing the largess of the falls, travelers can go bungee jumping, rappelling, zip lining or rafting. They can also walk with lions or go on an elephant-back safari.
Located south of Hawaii and northeast of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean, the Cook Islands are a relatively unspoiled Polynesian South Seas paradise. The 15-island collection is divided northern and southern sections and Rarotonga, the largest island of the archipelago is part of the southern collection.
Most of the relatively tiny Cook Island economy is supported by tourism. There are about 50 restaurants on the largest island, Rarotonga, and you can drive around the entire island in a car in about 45 minutes. From Rarotonga, visitors can get to a smaller, nearby island, Aitutaki, which sits in the middle of a blue lagoon that will take your breath away -- imagine white sandy beaches and crystal turquoise water.Related: The Happiest People Know Their 'Flow State.' What's Yours?
A trip to the Serengeti is not another week on the Jersey Shore. A trip to the Serengeti is literally about as wild as it gets.
Serengeti National Park is located in the northern portion of Tanzania, just south of the Equator in Africa. Fewer than 100,000 tourists visit the Serengeti each year, but those who do can see wildebeests, lions, zebras, gazelle, buffalo and crocodiles. Take a safari tour either in a vehicle or hot-air balloon. If you are more interested in seeing the mass wildebeest migration, plan your vacation between December and July. If catching a glimpse of the grand predators like lions are your preference, then your better bet is June through October.
The Grand Canyon is a warm up for the Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico.
The Copper Canyon is collection of some 20 canyons made by half a dozen rivers. It’s about seven times the size of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. You can see the Copper Canyon by foot, by train, on a bike, on a horse or while white-water rafting. The train that runs through the Copper Canyon is a particularly impressive construction project on its own, running over 39 bridges and through 86 tunnels.
In addition to the natural wonder of the Copper Canyon, the indigenous people who continue a simple and rustic way of life in the rugged terrain surrounding the Copper Canyon are worth experiencing. Certain tour groups provide tourists the opportunity to observe the way of life and festivals of the people who live in the Tarahumara Mountains.
Located 10 nautical miles to the northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia, Moorea is a small tropical paradise that looks like a heart when viewed from the skies. The island is, unsurprisingly, popular for honeymooning couples, but is less well-known than Bora Bora, which lies still further to the north. The island is characterized by its eight mountainous peaks set off against the azure blue lagoon in which it sits.
World-renowned golf legend Jack Nicklaus has created the only golf course in all of French Polynesia on Moorea, so if your version of relaxation has to include 18 holes, then this is your paradise. Other activities on the Pacific Island paradise include snorkeling, scuba-diving, hiking and sunset cruises.
If you are feeling luxurious, spend a night or two or five in the individual, over-the-water bungalows that look like they are right out of a movie.
Bhutan is a small Buddhist and Hindu country nestled in the mountains between China and the Eastern arm of India. This Southern Asian country is only about half the size of the state of Indiana and is home to less than 1 million people. It’s also been largely a mysterious country for generations. Before the 1960s, the landlocked nation had virtually no foreign visitors because the only way in was by foot. Since then, a more modern road infrastructure has been constructed and airports added.
Still the government of Bhutan has a relatively strict tourism policy and charges fees for access. First, if you’re not from India, Bangladesh or the Maldives, you have to obtain a $40 visa. Tourists are required to book travel through an approved travel program that costs $200 per person per night in the off season and $250 per person per night in peak months. If travel groups are smaller than three persons, the fee is higher.
While traveling to Bhutan is a trip that will require a bit of advanced planning, the unspoiled festivals, mountains, culture and cuisine make the country a dream destination to satisfy your wanderlust.
If you have been to the Caribbean a handful of times already and are looking for a more exotic alternative, the island of Boracay in the Philippines is a quick flight or long boat ride away from the capital, Manila.
The white sand and crystal turquoise beaches are the stuff of fairytale fantasies. The beaches almost don’t look real. And if you are looking for an adventurous break from your relaxing, there are plenty of options for cliff diving, water skiing or parasailing.
In the southern region of Argentina that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Pacific Ocean is Patagonia, an outdoor adventurer's dream. The largely untouched natural landscape offers unparalleled vistas through the glaciers of the Andes mountains. During the Argentinian winter months (mid-June through September), the area offers world-class skiing.
Visitors to the Patagonia can also opt for some very impressive whale watching, particularly in September and October. The best spot to catch sight of the enormous, graceful mammals is off the coast of the Valdes Peninsula.
The natural springs of Edipsos are Earth’s organic spa, providing a panacea for health issues for thousands of years. Emperors including Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius and Constantine the Great and the great philosopher Aristotle are all said to have all come to the magical, mystical springs of Edipsos to be healed and alleviate stress.
Located on an inlet on the Aegean Sea north of Athens, Edipsos is home to 80 different springs, of varying degrees of heat, and they are all said to be restorative. According to ancient mythology, the queen Athena asked her brother Hephaestus to make the springs so that Hercules would have a place to rest his weary body in between his feats of strength.
In addition to enjoying the natural springs and small-town Greek life, a vacation to Edipsos also provides the opportunity to go scuba diving, fishing, hiking and biking. And be sure to have a loukomades, a traditional Greek pastry with honey.