The world is full of exciting places to go and things to do. From the wilds of Alaska to the fjords of Norway, magnificent views and incredible experiences await the explorer.
The birds of the Galapagos, or the countless fish along Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will thrill and delight. Adventures that push you out of your comfort zone are there for the taking, whether you want to try ziplining, take an epic hike, or climb a mountain.
Could this be the year you take the plunge and head somewhere you’ve always dreamed of? Here are 18 activities to add to your adventure bucket list in 2023.
Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is a real urban adventure, although there’s no denying Sydney is one of the world’s most beautiful urban settings.
Looking down on the bustling harbor and the world-renowned Sydney Opera House is a real thrill. It’s also well within reach of anyone with any degree of fitness.
The best times to go are dusk or dawn, with night-time climbs adding an extra touch of spectacle. Climbs range from a 90-minute “Sampler”, to the three and a half hour full Bridge Climb, with a shorter “Express” option for those with less time.
“Fly” Through El Yunque Rainforest, Puerto Rico
The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System is home to 240 native tree species. Of these, 23 are found nowhere else in the world.
With rain falling several times a day, you can expect to get wet—this is a rainforest, after all. However, that also means scenic Puerto Rican waterfalls, and lovely swimming ponds.
For a very different bird’s eye view of the park, take to the treetop canopy on a zipline. This bucket list adventure is made safe by knowledgeable guides with an infectious passion for their native forest.
You can also experience one of the best hikes in Puerto Rico, ride on horseback or ATV, or join an educational tour. For bird-lovers, there are 42 year-round bird species, and several unusual migratory species.
Make Friends With a Stingray in Grand Cayman
Stingray City in Grand Cayman allows you to touch a stingray, and look into its eyes. Among bucket list adventures, this may be one of the easiest to tick off—but also one of the most memorable.
“Stingray City” is a series of sand bars where fishermen used to clean fish before returning to port. This first attracted the rays, which are now familiar enough to let anyone feed them.
You stand in shallow water, 25 miles offshore, while these graceful swim around you. As one of the best snorkeling spots in Grand Cayman, you can also swim around the area to see more of the coral reefs, and other colorful sea life.
Hike Between Continents in Iceland
Thingvellir is a long, narrow national park home to some of the best hikes in Iceland, dominated by the dramatic green landscape of Almannagjá gorge.
Hiking through it, you are walking where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet; in effect, you could be standing on two continents.
The gorge is four miles wide, and has a number of hiking and horse-riding trails. These take you to explore historic points, and three abandoned farms.
At the southern end of the national park is Lake Þingvallavatn, Iceland’s largest. Its pure water, renowned for its clarity, supports brown trout, and Arctic char.
Sail Through Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
Ha Long Bay resembles a classical Chinese painting that’s come to life. Its calm, jade-green waters are dotted with thousands of forested karst formations.
Among its islands, you can find some of Vietnam’s best beaches, caves, floating villages, and other wonderful sights. You can swim, dive or snorkel, or even hike on the large Cat Ba Island with its national park.
Ha Long Bay is a vast area, big enough for you to find the tranquility and beauty that first attracted visitors. That’s even more true of nearby Lan Ha Bay, with 300 islands of its own.
Feel the Spray of Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Taller than Niagara, and wider than Victoria Falls, Iguazu Falls have to be seen to be believed. No video or photograph can do justice to the power of one of the world’s largest waterfalls.
There are nearly 300 cascades of water, tumbling over a cliff edge almost one and half miles wide. That geological fault line marks the border between Argentina and Brazil.
One of the cascades, named the “Devil’s Throat”, has a viewpoint where you stand surrounded by water on three sides. The South American waterfalls themselves are amid tropical jungle, and a forest tour adds an extra adventure to your visit.
Snorkel Over the Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a place of superlatives. Almost 1,500 miles long, it is home to over 9,000 species—with likely many more still undiscovered.
You can snorkel or dive its warm waters in many places off northern Queensland. One of the most popular jumping-off points is Airlie Beach, from where you can visit the calm, protected areas around the Whitsunday Islands. Drift over the corals and admire fish in every color of the spectrum.
Stand on Norway’s Pulpit Rock
The four-hour hike to this famous rock is suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit. It’s just under two and a half miles each way on a day trip from Stavanger, and climbs about 1,500ft in height over some rough ground.
The reward is an amazing view over the Lysefjord from a 2,000-ft-high vantage point. You are surrounded by mountains towering to 2,766 feet, with a view of plateaus, and lakes.
Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) just right out over the fjord and has no safety rail, so you can go as close to the edge as you dare. Some go even further: the rock is a popular jumping-off point for BASE jumpers and wingsuit flyers.
Hike the Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is one of the world’s most beautiful destinations. While driving or sailing are popular ways to see its sights, including the many charming towns, hiking is even better.
There are several great walks, but the Path of the Gods is one of Italy’s best hikes. It runs from the village of Agerola to Nocelle, passing through Praiano, and Positano.
For about five miles, you get close to this famously beautiful coastline, enjoying the remarkable views. The rugged shoreline, serene Mediterranean, and groves of lemons or olives all stimulate the senses.
Each village you pass through offers a choice of tempting places to eat, or shop. Churches, such as Positano’s Santa Maria Assunta, make for shady, interesting highlights.
Dive Into the Underwater Sculpture Park, Grenada
Lying from only six to 15 feet under the surface, this was the world’s first underwater sculpture park. Opened in 2006, it can be explored by snorkelers, divers, or in a glass-bottomed boat.
Among the 75 works, the two most striking are the Christ of the Deep, and The Vicissitudes. The figure of Jesus was sculpted by Troy Lewis, and is a replica of one on the Carenage waterfront in St. George’s, the capital of Grenada.
The Vicissitudes is a group of 26 children, standing in a circle while holding hands. The underwater statues were sculpted by Jason deCaires Taylor, using local school pupils as models. Seeing these figures standing below you on the ocean floor is a surreal experience.
Spot the Big Five in Denali
The wildness of Alaska comes alive in Denali National Park, where evergreen forest and tundra seem endless. You’ll need a good guide to explore its depths for the Big Five animal species that roam here.
Grizzly bear, moose, caribou, wolf, and Dall sheep make up this exclusive—and elusive—list of Alaskan animals. Even if you don’t spot the animals, you’ll have had the adventure of a lifetime.
Up the adrenaline quota on your adventure bucket list by adding a whitewater ride on the Nenana River. The intense rapids make for a real thrill, whether you’re in a jet boat, or paddling like crazy in a raft.
Hike in the Rockies, Alberta
The resort town of Banff is an adventure lover’s paradise, with plenty of thrills on its doorstep from hiking to white water rafting. From the main street, you can see the snow-capped peaks of Mount Rundle and Mount Cascade in Banff National Park.
There are some 1,000 miles of hiking trails for those of all abilities. The three-hour Lake Agnes Trail is one of the most popular, traditionally ending with a refueling at the cozy teahouse.
It’s such a beautiful walk you’ll be glad you tackled it, with the dazzling scenery that Canada is known for in every direction.
Spot Amazing Species in the Galapagos
While swimming with seals in the Galapagos might make any adventure bucket list, its birds help make these remote islands unique. After all, Charles Darwin developed his ideas on evolution by studying 14 species of finches here.
The Galápagos Islands has 174 unique bird species, of which 24 are seen nowhere else on Earth. There are another ten endemic subspecies which may yet evolve into distinct species.
Among the most picturesque Galapagos birds are the blue-footed boobies, with colonies on the islands of Española and North Seymour.
Española also has waved albatrosses and Darwin’s finches, while Isabela Island is famous for its penguins. Where else in the world would you see a penguin standing by a cactus on an ancient volcano?
See Fort Bulnes, Punta Arenas, Chile
Fuerte Bulnes was founded in 1843 to help Chile protect the Strait of Magellan. This passage around the notorious Cape Horn was disputed territory at the time.
Although soon abandoned due to its isolation, the fort has been restored in the 1940s as a record of those pioneer days. The modern reconstruction evokes the same atmosphere as the old U.S. Cavalry forts of the western frontier.
That isolation remains, and the weather seldom seems friendly. Exploring this evocative spot is one of the best things to do in Chile, a place whose stark beauty lingers long in the memory.
Climb Mount Fuji, Japan
Mt. Fuji is such a familiar Japanese landmark that actually seeing it in reality is a real thrill. The cone of what is still a volcano (inactive since 1707), is typically snow-capped from November through May.
The best views of the Japanese mountain are from the Five Lakes region on its northern slopes. Mount Arakura also has a classic view that takes in its five-storied, red pagoda for a memorable image.
Climbing the mountain is popular, but it’s challenging because of the altitude (12,388 feet). The return route takes between eight to ten hours, depending on which of the four trails you follow.
Ascend Seongsan Ilchulbong, Korea
The distinctive “castle” shape of Seongsan Ilchulbong gives it the first part of its name. The second part refers to its fame as a place to watch the sunrise on the lovely Jeju Island.
Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this “Castle Sunrise Peak” is a short, but steep climb. Most visitors take around 45 minutes to climb up its 600 feet, with lots of steps to help the ascent.
Even if you are not able to make sunrise (or sunset), the sea views are worthwhile at any time of day. Around the mountain’s foot, some of the best things to do on Jeju Island include seeing the “haenyeos” Jeju’s famous female free divers, or eating in the many food stalls.
Bike the Marlborough Wineries, New Zealand
The gorgeous, rolling landscapes of Marlborough’s vineyards are made for enjoying on a bicycle. Add in tastings of some of the finest wines from this New Zealand wine region, and you have an adventure to remember.
New Zealand is known for its wine, and Marlborough is famous mainly for Sauvignon Blanc, but there is also some Pinot Noir. These crisp wines pair well with the local seafood, as you can discover in the many excellent restaurants in the area.
While you can take a self-guided tour, a guide will bring an extra dimension to the experience. Hiring an e-bike also means you can easily take in several wineries without too much effort.
Head Up Cadillac Mountain, Maine
Cadillac Mountain is the highest mountain on the east coast of the United States. It stands in Acadia National Park, which is on Mount Desert Island, off the coast of Maine.
The top of Cadillac is 1,530 feet, and easily reached along one of the park’s hiking trails, with spectacular views over miles of forest, islands, and the sparkling ocean in the distance.
The park’s 158 miles of trails, and its lovely carriage roads also have many photo-worthy views of the mountain that make it one of the best places to visit in New England. While you’re there, look out for its wildlife such as white-tailed deer, snowshoe hare, and the 338 bird species.
Has this list of activities to add to your adventure bucket list in 2023 inspired you to take to the high seas? Then browse our cruise itineraries to find the perfect one to kick off your next adventure.