Top 10 Adventure Retreats

Writer Zoe Louise Cronk | Published May 9, 2018

Get out of that comfort zone with physical pursuits, extreme locales and challenging new experiences

  • Take to Two Wheels

    Active adventures that take you from one spot of incredible culture and beauty to another are no mean feat, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Your week-long trip with Go Mad Dogs begins in Penang and ends in Phuket, taking you via sleepy back roads, rice fields, banana groves and coastal hilltops. After cycling 173km on your first day and sleeping on the banks of the stunningly remote Tasoh Lake in Malaysia’s smallest and northernmost state, you’ll discover villages and areas rarely encountered by visitors. Exotic seaside vistas, street stalls and extraordinary karst scenery will keep you more than entertained. Crossing the striking Sarasin Bridge from Phang Nga to Phuket is a particular highlight, not just because it means you’re close to completing the 665km trip and a celebratory swim at Mai Khao Beach! A true adventure from start to finish, this is an accomplishment to look back on with pride.

  • Culinary Adventures

    The Amalfi Coast is a beautiful, 50km stretch of coastline dotted with terraced vineyards, fishing villages and picture-perfect beaches. The spectacular region in southern Italy has much to offer, including the Turasoir Vistas & Flavours retreat. Their focus is on enlivening the senses and embracing the region’s smells, tastes and sights. Cooking classes, wine tasting, sampling regional delicacies and learning about Italian produce are some of the things you’ll enjoy, as well as being taught how each mouthwatering meal is created and sourced locally. Each day, wake up to yoga and meditation before setting out to explore. From your new home in Praiano, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, your small group of fellow retreaters will hike along the clifftops of the Sentiero Delgi Dei and visit the famous towns of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi and sail to the enchanting island of Capri.

  • The Surfing Yogi

    If you’re dreaming of a goddess-worthy water adventure, this sun-drenched surf and yoga retreat on the magical island of Bali may be just the thing. Picture yourself at one with the waves; surfing towards the shore feeling exhilarated. Then comes the calm, with daily sun salutations and meditation overlooking lush gardens to ensure muscles are revived and your mind refreshed. These award-winning retreats deliver a chance to unwind in paradise with amazing panoramas, deluxe accommodation, gourmet cuisine, a personalised wellness programme and everything from paddleboarding to spa treatments. The organisers pride themselves on creating an empowering, lighthearted atmosphere for women to reconnect with themselves and spend time by the ocean.

  • Captured on Camera

    Bringing your world into focus and giving you new respect for the universe is the Light & Land Astro-photography tour in Exmoor National Park. At this remarkable spot in the UK, the opportunities to photograph stars, planets, constellations, galaxies and meteors are almost endless. While the park’s natural landscape is itself breathtaking, your real photographic adventure begins after the sun descends beneath the horizon, when you’ll turn your attention to capturing the sky on camera. Exmoor National Park is Europe’s first ‘international dark sky reserve’ (one of only a few in the world), an award granted to preserved and protected areas where the beauty of the night sky is most visible. Teaching you about light, angles and photo editing, the trip aims to equip you with the knowledge you need to move forward as a night-sky photographer.

  • Tropical Explorer

    Imagine eight days spent by azure waters listening to softly crashing waves and swaying palm trees. Add to that camping on a golden sandy beach, diving, kayaking around picturesque islands, and the result is a truly idyllic trip. Hosted in the Polynesian kingdom of tropical Tonga, you will explore on foot, atop the waves and submerged beneath them. Journey to remote villages, paddle into the Swallows Cave and head across a sand bar, that emerges only at low tide, to the scenic islands of Taunga, Ngau and Pau. No matter how many times you have done it before, snorkelling here will leave you awe-inspired as you take in the rich variety of fish and coral gardens. A short hike to the island’s summit may reward visitors with a sight of humpback whales as the sun sets over the Pulepulekai Channel.

  • A Cavernous Quest

    If you’ve heard of the Son Doong Caves in Vietnam, they’re sure to already be on your bucket list. Trekking into the world’s largest cave is an unquestionably unique excursion, and thanks to Oxalis Adventure Tours, you can now experience for yourself. Nestled in the Phong Nha Ke Bang National Park, these staggeringly impressive caves are so expansive that they possess their own river and climate. The misty clouds that envelope the fossil passage set a mystical atmosphere, while the enormous stalagmites and stalactites that hang from the ceiling and rise remarkably from the ground command sheer adulation. Unlike other caves, the Son Doong Caves have two huge ‘skylights’ which give life to jungle plants and trees inside. Only a limited number of adventurers are allowed to visit this well-hidden natural beauty every year, making spots on these trips extremely coveted.

  • Bespoke Traveller

    Satisfy your need for exploration with a retreat that takes you to Costa Rica’s most incredible natural wonders. Customise your adventure, which can include soaking in the hot springs of the Arenal Volcano or floating down the Tárcoles River ready to catch glimpses of crocodiles, basilisks and iguanas. Feeling a bit more energetic? Get the blood pumping with white-water rafting down the Chirripo River’ rapids or zip-lining through the forest canopy. During downtime, coffee aficionados can tour a coffee plantation, while animal-lovers can be led through the Veragua Rainforest by a naturalist guide, sharing their wildlife knowledge. The Tortuguero eco-option is not to be missed. This three-day excursion to the protected area only accessible by boat or small aircraft features hiking, boating and exploring the freshwater lagoons and beaches that form the nesting grounds of sea turtles, including the endangered green turtles.

  • Wildlife and Wilderness

    Looking for a varied adventure in the wild? Gear up for Madagascar. Lasting 21 days, this is an outdoor-enthusiast’s dream that’s about getting back to nature. Every day will be different: from one spent searching for lemurs in the Ranomafana Nature Reserve, to hiking the granite peaks and valleys of the Andringitra National Park the following. You’ll swim in natural pools, canoe along the Manambolo River and watch sunsets at Baobabs Alley. The diverse ecology of Madagascar is alive with wildlife, and is the ideal place to go off the beaten track. After exploring the island’s national parks, you’ll spend nine nights in a hotel and 11 nights camping on the beach or in a safari camp.

  • Kites in Coron

    On a small private island in the Calamianes (commonly known as Coron) in the Philippine province of Palawan awaits a water sport retreat like no other. Exclusive and secluded, this kiteboarding resort is surrounded by untouched nature and pure white sand. The clear waters and plentiful space allow novice and experienced kite-surfers to enjoy this adrenaline-charged sport, launching their kite downwind towards one of the area’s best spots known for its pristine 360-degree scenery. Guests can also try stand-up paddle boarding, wakeboarding or scuba-diving in the well-protected reefs. Come nightfall, head back to the rustic comfort of your solar-powered, sustainable bamboo bungalow overlooking the beach.

  • Serenity on the Slopes

    The ultimate winter retreat doesn’t get much better than one spent in the majesty of the French Alps. Whether skiing or snowboarding, Soulshine Adventure Retreats provides the chance to up the adrenaline and blow city cobwebs away. After a day in the fresh air skiing the whitest of powder, cosy up by the log fire and relish a delicious meal before retreating to your chic chalet lodging and private hot tub. And to stretch out tired post-piste muscles, daily mountain yoga sessions are offered morning and evening: vinyasa to set you up for a well-balanced day on the slopes and a restorative yin practice to relax before for bed.