Unique and immersive activities you need to add to your bucket list from the Bahamas to Guatemala to take your travel to the next level.
Before the pandemic hit, I started to see a real shift in how my husband and I planned our travels. As much fun as I have had sitting on a tropical beach drinking Mai Tais, our trips weren’t that laid back anymore; they were more experiential and unique. They were the kind of trips that made friends and family raise their eyebrows and say: “You did what?”
It seemed that we had crossed the line from relaxing to soul-stirring. We realized that we were searching for special experiences–incredible activities that allowed a connection with nature, locals and other travellers and that left us with stories that would last a lifetime. Now, we strive to find things to do that create the moments that will live in our hearts forever–creating unforgettable memories.
Below is a list of amazing experiences that invite that kind of magic.
Great white shark cage diving
There are several places to cage dive with great whites; South Africa, Mexico and Australia are the most well-known. Shark Week, seven days of documentaries that run on the Discovery Channel each year, seems to have created a fascination with these apex predators–not to mention the movie Jaws! The idea of being locked in a cage and lowered into the water with great white sharks is terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
It’s important to check out the operator and make sure they are an ethical company with sustainable practices. Great White Shark Tours in South Africa have an excellent reputation and hundreds of positive reviews. They provided me with an up-close-and-personal look at these astonishing creatures.
Glamping in Mayan ruins in Guatemala
Guatemala is a beautiful country offering a range of experiences, from the scenic cobblestone streets and Spanish architecture of Antigua, to the dramatic beauty of Lake Atitlan, to the sprawling Mayan ruins at Tikal.
BikeHike Adventures offers the ability to get off the beaten path, including glamping in ancient Mayan ruins in the heart of the jungle. Sitting on the deck of our “tent,” adult beverages in hand, listening to the sounds of the jungle–which is home to a range of animals including jaguars, pumas, monkeys and several types of serpents–while watching the sunset over ruins that are thousands of years old made me see the world differently.
Swimming with dolphins
Dolphins are magical in their own right, so the opportunity to swim with them in the wild feels a little like being invited into something otherworldly. On the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikoura is famous for its marine life–including the dusky dolphin, which is the most acrobatic dolphin species.
Swimming with dolphins in the wild means they are free and living in nature. Feeling a pod of these friendly, sometimes cheeky beings frolicking around you in the water takes your soul to a special place–and there’s nothing like it. Dolphin Encounter is a highly respected tour operator in Kaikoura that cares for the dolphins as much as their guests.
Watching a tower of giraffes (yes, that’s what they’re called) lope across the African bush feels like you are in a movie. Seeing a herd of elephants walk past your villa; the first morning sighting of a lion, leopard, rhino or hippo; the smell in the air; the animal sounds; and the feeling that wildlife is all around you–even when you can’t see them–makes for a heart-first experience that is unparalleled.
A five-star safari–whether in Kenya, South Africa or one of the other African countries offering safaris–is worth the cost. The magic of Africa is an experience like no other and it’s worth splurging on. One of the best lodges in South Africa is Londolozi, where we truly found the soul of beauty.
Swimming with pigs in the Bahamas
Starting a conversation with “I swam with pigs” is a sure-fire attention-getter–and it’s not as farfetched as it sounds! In The Exumas, a series of tiny islands in the Bahamas, you can literally swim with the pigs–which might not seem glamorous, but it is fabulous. On Big Major Cay live a drove (yes, that’s what they’re called) of buoyantly loud, snorting pigs that swim out to greet you as you arrive!
You have to take a boat to Pig Beach (as it is affectionately known). For those who aren’t up for chartering one, Four Cs Adventures has a full-day adventure that includes swimming with the pigs, visiting several islands, swimming with nurse sharks and stopping at a secluded beach.
Which of these jaw-dropping adventures are you planning to add to your bucket list?
For more bucket list inspiration, check out:
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