We’ve all fallen victim to the temptation to eat whatever we want and skimp on our fitness while on vacation because, well, we’re on vacation. But what might seem like a valid excuse at the time won’t feel quite as rational when you’re back from your trip and feeling a bit of lingering guilt for letting yourself go so far off track. But if clocking in hours at the hotel gym isn’t you’re cup of tea (is it anyone’s, really?), there’s an easy solution to having your vacation and burning those calories, too: you can make it an active trip. There are tons of adventure-filled destinations out there that will allow you to stay active while still enjoying your break from the real world. If you’re looking for a vacation where you can get your dose of relaxation along with a few doses of physical activity, these five destinations are for you.
The Grand Canyon
For a cheap trip with jaw-dropping views, look no further than the Grand Canyon. One mile deep, up to 18 miles wide, and 277 miles in length, the massive national park provides all the options you need for an active nature getaway. Enjoy the great outdoors and set up camp along the North Rim, or opt for one of the many hotels near the area. Either way, there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, all of which range from moderate to extreme. Take on Bright Angel or North Kaibab Trail, or hike to the clear blue waters of the desert oasis known as Havasu falls. If you’re tired of looking down on the views, hop in a raft on the Colorado River and change your perspective. Between hiking, rafting, and taking in the views, the Grand Canyon is sure to keep you active and entertained.
Hawaii may seem like the classic vacation for relaxing on a beach, but the islands have a lot more to offer. Kauai, the oldest Hawaiian island, has mastered the role of relaxing vacation destination with quaint resorts, only two main major highways and miles of beautiful, expansive beaches. But, it also appeals to the adventurous travelers. Hiking trails like the Kalalau Trail will take you over steep cliffs, through tropical rainforests and to hidden beaches where surfing, swimming and kayaking are encouraged. Don’t forget to visit Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park for mountainous views and more hiking trails. If you enjoy hiking in the mountains and hanging out at the beach, this island is the best of both worlds.
Bet you’ve never thought of Alaska as a luxury vacation destination, but Anchorage has it all. Whether you visit in the summer or the winter, the activities are endless. The city itself will keep you busy with its nightlife, heritage site and other cultural must-sees, as well as a busy outdoor market festival that usually takes place from around May through the start of September. If you choose to venture outside the heart of the city, adventure awaits with countless national parks to explore while hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing, or horseback riding. If you like your temperatures cooler, come during the winter for skiing and snowboarding. You may even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Regardless of the season, dog sledding and ice climbing are always available because, well, it’s Alaska. Anchorage provides the perfect opportunity to get your fill of exploring a busy city and experiencing all that nature has to offer.
If you want to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site and New Wonder of the World all in one go, hop on a plane to Peru and explore the Lost City of the Incas at Machu Picchu. Located in the Peruvian Andes, this historic sanctuary offers a glimpse of the past as well as mountain landscape views that will make time stop. Before you depart on the trail of your choosing, make a stop in the Andean town of Pusac, where you’ll find local markets perfect for stocking up on woolen hiking clothes. The famous Inca Trail will take you straight to the Incan ruins, but there are alternate routes for hikers up for the challenge. The different trails range from one day to 13 days, but it’s all about your preference. Choose a medium difficulty 3- to 5-day hike through the Lares Valley or kick it up a notch with the longer, more difficult Vilcabamba Traverse Route. Each trail offers unique sights and terrain, so choose the one you’re most interested in and get started. There’s no way you’ll have vacation guilt after visiting this hiker’s paradise.
If you’ve never been to Fiji, the string of 333 tropical islands can be a little intimidating and overwhelming when choosing a specific destination. While all the islands are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation, Viti Levu is the place to go if you’re looking for diversity and adventure. In terms of accommodations, the island plays host to luxury resorts and mountain villages. Suva, the capital, provides a look into the modern Melanesian life in a big city in contrast to the many outdoorsy activities the island offers. Snorkel over beautiful reefs or dive with sharks off the coast of dazzling white sands or adventure into the mountain village of Navala for a taste of traditional culture. Head to the Navua River surrounded by breathtaking cliffs and warm waterfalls and take a raft or kayak trip through the rainforest. Viti Levu offers an island escape and an opportunity to challenge yourself with exciting expeditions, so staying active on this island is easy.