Explore Beyond the Sand: Top Non-Beach Vacations for Adventurers

Discover the thrill of non-beach vacations with our guide to unforgettable adventures. From tuk-tuk journeys in Cambodia to survival challenges in the Amazon, embrace the extraordinary.


There are plenty of reasons to skip hotel resorts and beach holidays and challenge yourself with adventure...

Active holidays reinvigorate you—give you a whole new perspective on life. In one incredible journey, you challenge yourself, give your physical and mental health a lift, and feed that hungry wanderlust beast inside you.

Better still, you learn to deal with the unexpected and adapt to situations you never imagined—and when you return, you’re filled with a profound sense of accomplishment. You’re not the same old you when you return. You’re stronger, more confident, and rock a pretty amazing tan!

Cliche maybe, but it’s true: Good things happen when you step out of your comfort zone.

Ready to take an adventure that changes your life? Here are eight travel experiences you need to try at least once.

1. Drive your very own tuk-tuk 1,000 kilometres through Cambodia’s streets and countryside.

Millions of visitors come to Cambodia to visit Siem Reap and Angkor Wat and all the amazing cultural landmarks the country is famous for. But wouldn’t you rather navigate your own tuk-tuk and maybe camp in a pagoda at Beng Mealea, spend the night with a local family and eat authentic cuisine? Or cruise along the banks of the Mekong River near Kratie and watch the dolphins frolic in the water?

Of course, we’re not recommending you skip Angkor Wat or the thrills of Phnom Penh. And in fact, if you’re a beach lover, you’ll love the beaches of Koh Trong—better than Thailand, they’re mostly undiscovered.

2. Fish for piranha in the Amazon River—because why not?

Even if you’re not an expert fisherman—maybe you don’t even like the sport—there’s still something thrilling about fishing for piranha. Not surprisingly, they are easily caught with meat or flesh and they’re actually quite common when you fish the Amazon.

And if you feel like eating one, go right ahead. They’re actually a sustainable fish. But keep in mind they’re quite bony and a bit on the small side, so maybe catch more than one for that tasty piranha escabeche.


3. Channel your inner Robinson Crusoe and build your own shelter on a deserted tropical island.

Ever dreamed of pitting your wits against Mother Nature in your very own island survival challenge? Foraging for branches to make a shelter for the night, climbing coconut trees for a snack of milk and sweet meat, or fishing in the sea for your dinner?

Think about it: Which story would you rather tell your friends back home? The one where you lounged on the beach and drank too many fruity cocktails—or the one where you honed your survival skills in the wild on a deserted island? And either way, you’ll have a great tan when you return.


4. Learn the secrets of hunting with a blow-pipe.

Blow-pipes are still the functional weapon of choice for many rainforest tribes; a skilled hunter can even take down large game like deer and wild boar. You might have to start small and aim for birds or even large Amazonian insects and grubs on your first rainforest adventure, but still—it’s a skill that few of your friends will ever acquire.

Be sure to get some photo proof of your legendary sharpshooter status before you head home.

5. Plot your course through an archipelago.

Pretty much anyone can use GPS to get around but it takes a bit of skill to sail the sea and navigate your way through a series of islands.

In fact, if you’ve never been on a sailing adventure, you’re in for a whole new world of experiences. There’s the sailor’s lexicon (starboard, port, tacking, and rum, for example), not to mention all the “traffic signs” like water depths and tides you’ll have to learn. But the wide expanse of the sea around you is something you’ll never forget.


6. Sample sambols, samosas, and other spectacular street food in Sri Lanka.

Exotic foods are the hallmark of an adventure vacation and Sri Lanka’s street food is some of the best in the world. Even the names sound mysterious and exciting: String hoppers, kottu roti, pani pol, saravita, and luscious isso vadei with prawns balanced precariously on top. And who doesn’t love a crisp and spicy samosa?

And if you love to visit flavortown, you’ll love the fiery sambols—try katta sambol if you dare.

7. Sail the Sulu Sea in your very own pimped-out paraw.

What’s a paraw? It’s a traditional Filipino sailboat with two outriggers and two sails. It’s usually made of wood or bamboo and it’s built for speed and manoeuvrability—the perfect vessel for island hopping in the Philippines.

And that means you can skip the more tourist-y spots and head for the undiscovered and uncrowded beaches of Buruanga, Ferrol, and Argao—maybe sleep in a hammock, like the star of your own “Castaway” adventure. So much better than a boring beach vacation, don’t you agree?

8. Test your survival skills in the Amazon rainforest.

Let’s face it—the Amazon is amazing and there’s really nothing quite so epic as a trek through the rainforest. It’s every possible challenge you can imagine, from creepy-crawlies to nocturnal caiman-spotting jaunts, to paddling a dugout canoe, to roughing it in a jungle campsite and snacking on mojojoi for sustenance.

And if it’s authentic experiences you’re after, take an Amazon challenge and sleep in hammocks beneath the rainforest canopy, practice your archery and kayaking skills at the “indigenous Olympics,” and spend a night as the houseguest of a native Omagua family.


Final thoughts…

Anyone can spend a week at the beach or a cruise ship hopping from island to island—and it’s definitely a nice way to while away your time.

But no risk means no reward. You come home just as you were when you left, except maybe a little plumper and sporting a better tan.

Wouldn’t you rather do something unexpected and extreme—that changes you for the better? Gives you new skills, enhances your understanding of the world and its people and builds your confidence because you’ve accomplished amazing things?

If that sounds like youlet’s talk. 

Get in touch today and find out more about our challenge adventures in the world’s most underexplored and fascinating places. Or sign up for our free email course and learn everything you ever wanted to know about adventure travel.