For many families, the hardest decision of the summer is selecting the right adventure travel program for their teenagers. But once that decision has been made, the next question can be even tougher – where should they go?
From jungles and mountains to cities and shorelines, with service and surfing and kayaking and rock climbing, the opportunities can seem endless. We believe that there’s a perfect adventure out there for every teen, and below are seven of the best places for youth adventure travel to get you started on making the right decision.
1. Costa Rica
For decades Costa Rica has been a leading international destination for youth adventure travel, and for good reason! Costa Rica is famous for its ecotourism-related activities and is a global leader in sustainability education. A trip to Costa Rica is often incomplete without a morning of conservation work or a hands-on community service project.
But Costa Rica isn’t just educational – it’s also home to some of the best adventure activities around! From river tubing and whitewater rafting to ziplining and surfing, a program to Costa Rica gives teenagers the opportunity to try new activities in a well known yet culturally-immersive environment.
Already visited Costa Rica on a family or school trip but want more? Climbing in popularity, the latest up-and-coming destination for teen adventure travel in Central America is Belize.
Bolstered in recent years by an increase in flight availability, Iceland has become the must-see destination for thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts. The Land of the Midnight Sun has access to some of the most incredible natural landscapes on the planet, still relatively untouched due to the low population of this arctic European nation. Home of the Vikings and legendary Norse gods, the history of Iceland is steeped in mythology and enchanting sagas. And, most importantly, Iceland is home to one other thing – the famous Icelandic Horses.
An adventure in Iceland often includes activities like glacier hiking, sea kayaking, trekking, soaking in geothermal hot springs (like the oft-photographed Blue Lagoon), whitewater rafting, and more. All while taking some of the most incredible pictures imaginable. Best yet – during the summer, the sun doesn’t set, giving visitors ample time to explore the beauty of Iceland.
For culture junkies ready to step off the beaten path, Fiji is the perfect destination for teen adventure travel. Additionally, some of the best scuba diving in the world lies beneath the crystal clear waters of the Fijian archipelago, and the biodiversity of diving sites is unparalleled.
Fiji is a truly culturally-engaging destination, where students often have the opportunity to stay in village homestays and get to know the local culture and practices. Wearing a traditional sulu, teens get to partner with communities to perform service work, interact with locals, and swap stories from home. An adventure in Fiji encompasses the best of it all – outdoor adventure, cultural immersion, community service, and life-changing experiences.
4. Southern/Eastern Africa
A trip to the African continent is often accompanied by stories about how eye-opening the experience was. Popular destinations within Africa include South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Namibia, and Kenya, each country with a unique culture and diverse set of circumstances.
On programs in Africa, students get the chance to learn from local communities and interact with people from completely different walks of life, engaging in community service projects along the way. Additionally, teenagers can go on safari to see the Big Five, surf, snorkel, whitewater raft, and more, experiencing the natural beauty of these off-the-beaten-path adventure travel destinations.
When many people think of Hawaii, they might picture lounging on the beach with family on an extended relaxation vacation. What most people don’t realize is that the Big Island is actually home to some of the best adventure travel in the United States.
A trip to Hawaii combines a bit of everything – scenic hiking trails in the Waipio Valley, the sweeping beauty of Volcanoes National Park, visiting Mauna Kea, the tallest mountain in the world, surfing in world-class waves, and even learning more about the unique culture of this island paradise. Climb on a traditional Polynesian outrigger canoe, partner with marine biologists, learn about environmental sustainability – whatever type of adventure you’re craving, Hawaii is the perfect destination for ocean-loving, globe-trotting teens.
6. Western USA
A tried and true classic, the western United States has been the home of rugged adventure and outdoor experiences for generations. Camping, hiking, and exploring doesn’t get much more epic than the otherworldly deserts of Utah, the jagged Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon, and the rivers of California.
For wilderness-focused teenagers, an adventure program around the US is the perfect way to engage with the great outdoors. Whitewater rafting and kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, and hiking are all available in this part of the country, often coupled with nights spent sleeping outside under star-filled skies. Cooking over camp stoves, learning camping mechanics, and traveling road trip-style gives teenagers valuable life skills to take onto their own travels in the future, and can engender new confidence in themselves.
Another new adventure travel destination, Croatia has been steadily climbing in popularity in recent years. An adventure to Croatia offers teenagers the opportunity to visit a unique and off-the-beaten-path European destination rich in medieval history and Roman relics.
Island hopping, boating, Balkan history, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and canyoning are just a few of the many activities teenagers get to explore in Croatia. This is a great adventure travel spot for students interested in diving deep into a unique culture while also enjoying the sunny coast of the Balkan Peninsula.
Still not sure where to send your teenager this summer? Call the Bold Earth office to discuss the best destination for your teen’s interests and goals for this summer: (303) 526-0806