12 Thrilling Bucket List Vacations for the Adventure Junkie

national geographic lindblad antarctica expedition
12 Bucket List Vacations for the Adventure JunkieNational Geographic Lindblad

For the fearless and brave souls who crave heart-pounding excitement and seek to quench their thirst for adrenaline, the world is a playground of possibilities. The pages of ordinary travel brochures simply won't do justice to the extraordinary experiences that await the adventure junkie. From scaling towering peaks in remote corners of the world to plunging into the depths of the ocean to encounter breathtaking marine life, this curated list of thrilling bucket list vacations promises to take you on an exhilarating journey unlike any other. So buckle up and prepare to be awestruck as we explore the most electrifying destinations!

Flathead, Montana

Nestled on the pristine shores of Flathead Lake in Montana near Kalispell, Flathead Lake Lodge is an adventurer's dream come true. Upon arrival, guests sign up for activities that range from horseback riding to archery, laser tag in the woods, skeet shooting, watersports, and more. It’s an opportunity to try something that is brand new to you and to go outside of your comfort zone. The staff is accommodating, whether you need 1:1 time with getting on your horse or requesting any type of watersport on the lake. With certain weeks for children and others deemed adult-only, it’s everyone’s playground.

At the heart of the experience is the lodge's warm and welcoming atmosphere. After a day of thrilling adventures, retreat to the rustic yet comfortable rooms, enjoy hearty ranch-style meals, and savor the evenings around a campfire under a star-studded Montana sky.

flathead lake lodge montana
Flathead Lake Montana


Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic takes you to places you've never thought you'd go. Embark on the trip of a lifetime to explore the Antarctic Peninsula, where endless stretches of white mountains extend to the horizon and colossal glaciers sculpt icebergs that cascade into the sea. Aboard the ship are an array of experts to learn from about the wildlife and region.

Glide around massive icebergs in Zodiacs, take a hike, go kayaking, and even cross-country skiing. Perhaps the most adventurous part of the trip is taking the voyage through the Drake Passage which is arguably the roughest waters on the planet.

national geographic lindblad
National Geographic Lindblad


This region is known for its picturesque coastal towns, crystal-clear Adriatic Sea, and beautiful landscapes. VBT's biking expedition in Croatia could take you along scenic coastal routes through charming villages, and to historical sites, allowing you to soak in the local culture and natural beauty. Over seven days with local guides, you’ll ride over 130 miles and a cumulative elevation of 10,000 feet which takes you far off the beaten path.

The best part (and most convenient) is that the tour group will stay on a private yacht, exploring a new island each day. While some tour groups lack freedom in an itinerary, VBT offers plenty of free time as well as unique rides that make each day a new challenge.

vbt croatia
James Barrett

Big Island, Hawaii

The Island of Hawai’i of Hawaii offers an exhilarating paradise for thrill seekers, combining stunning natural wonders with luxurious accommodations. At the top of our list is the opportunity to scuba dive or snorkel with magnificent manta rays. Locally owned Anelakai Adventures will bring you on a night snorkel to get you face-to-face with these graceful giants (some spanning more than 15 feet) as they glide through the illuminated waters. The ethereal dance of the mantas, attracted by the plankton-rich waters, is a surreal and breathtaking experience that is truly magical.

If you’re lucky, during your visit, you might get to see fresh lava at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Witness the raw power of nature as you explore the dynamic landscapes created by Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Hike through rugged lava fields, peer into the glowing Halema'uma'u Crater, and marvel at the explosive geothermal activity that shapes the island. Stay at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai where you can lounge at one of their eight pools and explore history at its Kaʻupulehu Cultural Center.

big island hawaii
Steven Trainoff Ph.D. - Getty Images

Estes Park, Colorado

Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, is an adrenaline-charged haven for thrill-seekers. Home to the steepest Via Ferrata in the US, the recently unveiled Cloud Ladder at Kent Mountain Adventure Center offers a heart-pounding ascent with a 625 ft. vertical climb, two daring headwall sections, and a summit at 9,250 ft.

This daring activity, available from May to September, invites adventurers to camp suspended on a transparent rock face with the bonus of a steak dinner amidst the cliffs. Traditionally reserved for seasoned climbers, it has been democratized by KMAC guides, allowing both novices and experts to revel in the one-of-a-kind trek.

estes park colorado
Visit Estes Park


For those looking to explore the world beneath the surface, Kokomo Private Island Resort & Spa in Fiji has a world-class dive shop. Explore vibrant coral gardens teeming with colorful fish, venture into mysterious underwater caves, or even encounter sharks and manta rays on some of the more daring dives. The underwater world at Kokomo Island is a dream come true for scuba enthusiasts, providing a rare opportunity to witness the breathtaking beauty of the South Pacific's marine ecosystem up close.

Overall, you haven’t experienced luxury until you’ve stayed on a private island. Guests can press a button in their beachfront villa for a golf cart to pick them up at any time. The staff is incredibly friendly with impeccable attention to detail like remembering your coffee order during your stay. And when you leave the resort to head home, employees come together to sing a farewell song where you might just need some tissues.

Jason Edwards - Getty Images


Begin your adventure in Dubai with a thrilling helipad arrival to the 56th floor of the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, where even Red Bull stunt pilots have made breathtaking landings. For those who seek the ultimate high, consider skydiving across Dubai's spectacular city skyline.

When it's time to unwind, check in at one of the four opulent Arabian palaces within Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah, a realm of adventure and luxury. Here, you'll find the Wild Wadi Waterpark, offering aquatic escapades, and the heart-pounding 32-meter Jumeirah Sceirah slide, which propels guests to speeds of up to 50 mph. The concierge stands ready to arrange thrilling activities like shark diving, sandboarding, skydiving over The Palm Jumeirah, hoverboarding in the Arabian Gulf, and a multitude of other pulse-pounding experiences.

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Bora Bora, Tahiti

Bora Bora, the "Pearl of the Pacific," offers adventure junkies an idyllic escape, and the Four Seasons Bora Bora is a luxurious gateway. With its overwater bungalows and stunning backdrop, the resort invites guests to embark on exciting adventures, whether it's jet skiing, snorkeling among vibrant coral reefs, or taking a helicopter tour for panoramic views of the island. You can even paddleboard or canoe through the crystal-clear lagoon, with chances of spotting manta rays in the surrounding waters.

After exploring, retreat to the spa to relax and recharge. The resort offers a unique wellness retreat that includes sound healing, meditation, farm-to-table culinary experience, and much more.

four seasons bora bora
Four Seasons Bora Bora

Reno Tahoe, Nevada

Reno Tahoe, often dubbed the lively "Biggest Little City," serves as the ultimate adult playground, offering an array of diverse terrains within and around the city to cater to every traveler's passion. From the excitement of fishing and water sports on the Truckee River and North Lake Tahoe to the wealth of hiking and mountain biking trails amidst the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the energy runs high.

For those seeking a heart-pounding experience, nestled in the boutique Whitney Peak Hotel in the heart of Downtown Reno, the "World's Tallest Artificial Climbing Wall" beckons climbers to ascend its towering 16 stories, reaching a staggering height of 164 feet above Downtown Reno. If you’re brave enough to look down, you'll be rewarded with unbeatable vistas of the city skyline, the iconic Reno Arch, and the majestic nearby mountains.

reno tahoe nevada
George Rose - Getty Images


Situated in the crystal-clear turquoise waters of the North Male Atoll, Jumeirah Maldives Olhahali Island stands as a luxurious all-villa resort, providing an idyllic setting for adventure seekers to create unforgettable experiences. Whether you arrive by speedboat or seaplane, this resort invites you to venture beyond the typical beachfront relaxation and dive into thrilling watersports. From heart-pounding waterskiing and jet-skiing to the exhilaration of kite surfing, windsurfing, flyboarding, and parasailing, the possibilities for aquatic adventures are boundless.

For those who crave underwater excitement, the resort offers manta ray snorkeling trips, turtle quests, and PADI scuba diving to explore the vibrant marine life. You can also zip past your villa on a Banana Boat or embrace the thrill of a Seabob water sled, capable of reaching speeds of nearly 12 mph above the sea's surface and beneath it, or check off an item on your bucket list with a dive in the resort’s semi-submarine.

Matteo Colombo - Getty Images

Krabi, Thailand

The southern region of Thailand boasts a truly breathtaking natural landscape. Alongside its surreal white sand beaches, the prominence of limestone cliffs emerging from the tranquil Andaman Sea are remarkable marvels.

Beyond their aesthetic appeal, these rock structures serve as a dreamscape for avid climbers, with Railay Beach emerging as one of Krabi's most sought-after destinations. The Krabi Rock Climbing School offers a variety of climbing courses for beginners, intermediate, and advanced climbers. They also have private options if you prefer one one-on-one instruction, or if you simply want a great climbing partner who knows the area

thailand, krabi province, ko tub island
Tuul & Bruno Morandi - Getty Images


Oman is a haven for adventure enthusiasts, boasting a diverse array of activities that cater to everyone. From desert safaris and scenic mountain hikes to immersive cultural experiences such as exploring Muttrah's charming seafront and visiting historic Al Jalali and Al Mirani castles, the country offers a wide range of adventures to embark on.

Recently, the serene beachfront oasis of Jumeirah Muscat Bay has opened its doors in the secluded cove of Bandar Jissah, which is between the majestic Al Hajar Mountains and the Gulf of Oman. The resort provides a wealth of activities, including a diving center, snorkeling adventures amidst vibrant reefs and sea turtles at Bandar Al Khayran, exhilarating hikes through the Hajar mountains, and a wide range of water-based activities like biking, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even dolphin watching, ensuring there's no shortage of thrills for those who dare to take a walk on the wild side. No matter what you’re comfortable with, it’s all about trying something new and hopefully surprising yourself with the outcome!

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Visit Estes Park

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