Prefer zip lines to tan lines? The thrill to a chill? High speed to a good read? Or, at least, don’t want to spend your whole holiday glued to a sun lounger? Then a new host of adventurous trips are vying for your attention – and not all require safety gear or pre-trip training. In fact, most will give your fitness levels a boost without you even noticing. Try our pick of trips guaranteed to get your pulse racing and your body moving

Waterfall diving, The Dominican Republic

Waterfall diving The Dominican Republic

Forget cliff-jumping: the latest wave of adrenalin-chasers are leaping 25 feet down thundering waterfalls into churning blue waters (beginners go feet-first; the more experienced work up to head-first). The ‘27 Falls Tour’ on the Damajagua River takes in 27 awe-inspiring pools etched out of limestone by Mother Nature. Not only will you encounter tropical birds and plants and rolling sugar cane fields on the climb up, but you’ll get to whiz down natural waterslides (excessively fun) on the way back down. Life jackets and helmets included.

Volcano climbing, Indonesia

Volcano climbing Indonesia

Think you can stand the heat? This southeast Asian archipelago boasts more active volcanoes than anywhere else on Earth – and offers staggeringly varied scenery, from Bromo’s barren moonscapes to the verdant green terraces of Java, via Rinjani’s bright emerald lake. Hike active volcanoes with fumaroles, calderas and hot springs, watch stunning sunrises, and explore ancient temples and local villages. Operators like Exodus and Adventure Indonesia take in the lot – you’ll need a good level of fitness, but it’s well worth the effort.

Paddle-board yoga, Crete

Paddle-board yoga Crete

Think you’ve got your sun salutations sussed? Why not try them on water? Combining both hatha and vinyasa yoga with surfing, stand-up paddle-board yoga (or SUP) is the hottest new Hollywood fitness trend, winning celeb fans like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz.
Crete’s Paddle Board Yoga is a spectacular place to find your feet, offering daily classes at a growing number of beach-side beauty spots, plus week-long full-board retreats. Here, you’ll combine daily outdoor lessons over crystal clear waters with high-octane speedboat tours and delicious Cretan food, bedding down in a luxury five-star private villa with panoramic views of Loutraki Bay.

Polar kayaking, Antarctica

Polar kayaking Antarctica

Gigantic blue icebergs, busy penguin rookeries and whales cresting the waves – there’s plenty to distract you from the cold here. Plus, once you’ve sailed to the Antarctic Peninsula on board the MS Expedition cruise ship (kitted out with mud rooms, plush dining areas and viewing decks), you’ll be able to try your hand at some serious polar activity to warm up. Snowshoe in deep, untouched powder on the remotest parts of Greeland, sail the Svalbard archipelago, or kayak around the islands – a wildly exhilarating sea-born experience.

Ranch-riding, Canada and America

Ranch-riding Canada and America

The scattering of working dude – or guest – ranches in Canada and the USA have upped their game in recent years to cater to the demands of the discerning modern traveller, with many now offering luxurious cabin accommodation, high-end cuisine and hot tubs under the stars. The real draw is, however, as it always was: exquisite scenery – explored on horseback. Try these two for starters:

Three Bars Ranch, British Columbia
These two glorious valleys in the heart of the Canadian Rockies add up to 75,000 acres of horseback country – where you’ll find smart, spacious wood cabins and lessons for every level, including kids. If you get saddle sore, there’s also whitewater rafting, mountain biking and hiking, not to mention spectacular views of undulating hills, mountain peaks, gorges and glistening rivers.

Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Montana
Ride through 9,000 acres of woodland and wildflower-carpeted meadows, taking in breathtaking ridge-top views (keep an eye out for the odd wolf or buffalo). It’s well worth working up an appetite, as this canyon ranch also serves first-rate food – think five-course menus featuring king crab cakes with fennel beurre blanc, beef medallions and Basque cake.

Wild swimming, Sardinia

Wild swimming Sardinia

Swimming in Rio Pitrisconi, a wild stream ravine above the town of San Teodoro on the island’s north east coast, is worlds apart from laps of the hotel pool. Breathing air heady with the scent of wildflowers, freestyle your way through sunset-coloured natural granite pools, winding up to an astonishing ‘infinity’ pool at the top. Those brave enough to paddle to the edge will be rewarded with views of a vertiginous drop into a deep valley and waterfall below, as well as impressive sea vistas. As swimming goes, this is particularly wild – it’s also a popular spot of canyoning, easily arranged in San Teodoro town.

And if you’re still after more action and adventure inspiration, try these far-flung destinations

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