The Five Best Holiday Sports
For some of us, a holiday is more than lying on a beach or by the pool reading a book. Instead, we use our annual leave to do those sports that our everyday just doesn’t allow. A holiday is the time to swap out the yoga tights for ski pants and drop the dumbbell for a golf club.
And for the die-hard sports enthusiasts, the question of where their holiday will be is dependent upon how good the offering of their sport of choice is.
Here’s a list of the five best holiday sports and some of the best spots you can enjoy them.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing is a true destination holiday sport. There are almost 5,000 identified ski resorts worldwide with many new players, including Russia and China, joining in on the fun. And whether you’re a pro or a beginner, the resorts across the globe operate on a universal language of rating ski trails from beginner to extremely difficult, so you’ll never be at a loss for options.
Skiing gives you the ability to escape the cities and visit pristine mountain regions, most with a lively village and cultural scene. Skiing also offers many fitness and health benefits including weight loss (depending on how many après ski sessions you throw in the mix), improving your cardiovascular system and muscle strengthening. Did you know that in a typical day’s skiing you can burn up to 3,000 calories!
Our top three picks for ski resorts include Whistler-Blackcomb (Canada), St Anton (Austria) and Chamonix (France) for their abundance of ski runs, their village atmosphere and their après ski options.
Photo CC MarLeah Cole
If you ask any scuba diver why they love their sport they’re likely to tell you one of the following reasons: incomparable tranquillity, unparalleled eye-candy and unlimited exploration.
It’s true, for every dive you experience there is a better and inimitable one waiting for you. That’s because each reef is unique; its biodiversity and marine life specific to the region; and the marine life operates on its own schedule, not the holiday-goers’.
Of course across the world there are famous diving destinations including the Maldives, Great Barrier Reef and Belize. However there are also many unassuming parts of the world that offer great dive experiences both for beginners and for experts. British Columbia in Canada has pristine water systems with unique marine life and coral species adapted to the chilly waters. And the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, are fast becoming diving destinations with dive sites and unparalleled marine biodiversity.
Golf – you either love it or you find it the most frustrating game invented. However, for a golfer, golf is much more than sinking a tiny white ball 18 times over a 5,000 yard golf course. Instead, golf is elevated to a matter of life or death where every stroke counts and every birdie is a God send. And when you pair this with the awe and tranquillity that comes with teeing off on one of the world’s most scenic or famous fairways, you’re in for a helluva ride.
What could be better than the chance to play in the country where golf originated? Scotland’s most famous course in St Andrews is a good place to start. The Old Course is distinguished and noble and a place of particular significance to legendary golfer Bobby Jones. Muirfield, the home of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, dating back to 1744 is another great option.
Otherwise, there’s Pine Valley Golf Club, New Jersey USA, ranked firmly in the top 100 course in the world. The course is famous for its difficulty with each tee sitting on an island surrounded by sand, dense wood, scrub and sometimes water. Or staying within the USA, Cypress Point in California is famous across the world for its series of three dramatic holes that play along the Pacific Ocean.
Hiking is a sport that is fully customisable. You can choose your routes and pace based on your age and level of fitness. And the great thing about hiking holidays is their ability to be paired with other great cultural experiences.
Let’s take the Chamonix to Zermatt walk, which as the name suggests, starts from Mount Blanc in Chamonix (France) and ends at the Matterhorn in Zermatt (Switzerland). This route is an eye-popping journey of snow-capped Alps, rich valleys, flower meadows and glaciers. All of this is linked by secluded alp hamlets where walkers can expect typical European hospitality with a warm meal and a cosy bed.
Alternatively, hiking the Himalayas is seen to be the pinnacle experience for avid hikers. However, the Himalayas are vast and can be both extremely hostile and serenely beautiful. Knowing where to go and the various associated risks can be daunting, so make sure you do your research and organise your travel cover before you board the plane and check with your insurer that you’re covered for sports and if you are taking expensive gear make sure you have it listed on your insurance policy. It’s not recommended to rock up and ‘wing it’.
Some people live to be on the water. They own their own boat, moor it in the nearest waterway and take it out…every month? Maybe five times a year? Working full time and making the most of your sailing passion is tough which is why many people opt to experience their love whilst on holidays, away from ‘everyday’ pressures.
Have you explored the British Virgin Islands? With over 40 islands, hundreds of anchorages, tame currents and protected bays it’s a true sailor’s paradise. These conditions also make for easy sailing, drawing in both beginners and old hands.
Croatia is another destination that immediately conjures up ideas of sailing. There is about 1700km of coast and over 1180 islands to explore, including the prestigious island of Hvar – a cultural and historical must-see.
You cannot go wrong with any of the above holiday sports, so what are you waiting for?! Book your vacation today and start sourcing out local adventure companies which offer the experience you’re looking for.
Other fantastic options for holiday sports include high adrenaline activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping or skydiving, though you may find you’re also just as content with a seat in a stadium, watching a live local game.
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