Everybody knows about the national parks and popular tourist traps…
But what about the hidden gems?
The adventures most often reserved for locals?
Today, I’m sharing 10 of those epic underrated destinations based on my own personal adventures.
Here they are:
Underrated Epic Adventures
1. Luzon, The Philippines
The main island Luzon is rich in World War II history, active volcanoes, and backcountry villages. These features allow it to boast a plethora of bold adventures apart from the tourists that flock to the other islands of the Philippines. Mayon Volcano National Park is a spectacular host for your mountain biking, waterfall hiking, and volcanic exploring desires. If cliffs and culture are more your style, head over to the town of Sagada.
While cliff jumping, keep your eyes out for the hanging coffins. This town honors their ancestors by displaying their coffins on the side of the cliff. But that isn’t the coolest part of Luzon: the highlight of the island may just be the Ta’al Volcano. It has an island in a lake that is the mouth of the volcano; just think of it as volcanic inception. All these natural and cultural adventures are easily accessible from the capital, Manila.
Kenya has all the draws of Africa and adventure within one country. Whether you want to scuba dive in the Indian Ocean or paraglide over the cliffs, the coast has more than enough to offer. Following the water upriver, try your hand at rafting or kayaking the Tana and Athi rivers. Moving further inland, there are a plethora of savannah plains to explore. If you dare, try out a nighttime safari walk looking for some wild beasts. If you want to maximize your time, try zipping around on a downhill mountain bike trail in Hell’s Gate National Park. Whatever sport you fancy, Kenya has an adventure waiting for you off the beaten path.
Albania finds itself one of the least explored and sought out countries in Europe. This fact makes it a stellar choice for your next adventure. The Karabarun Peninsula boasts some of the most undeveloped Mediterranean beaches, cliffs, and crags to explore. These shores make a solid outdoor playground for rock climbing, kayaking, or cycling from town to town. Trek up to the mountains for some uncharted backcountry skiing. To be clear, these mountains do not have trails, signs, or resorts yet for winter activities, so please hire a guide. The remoteness of Albania makes it a great contender for your next epic adventure.
4. The Marshall Islands
The majority of the Marshall Islands do not go more than six feet above sea level. This is all the more reason to come here on your next voyage before they disappear. If you’re searching for a larger-than-life dive, look no further than the Bikini Atoll. The reef is a graveyard for World War II ships, which makes the diving scene unreal. For even more seclusion, head out onto any of the 1,200+ islands off the main island. Don’t expect any modern amenities like internet or cell service, but the Marshall islands will give you an expanse of culture to relish.
Bhutan may be pricier to get to than your average destination, but it promises to give you a unique experience. Bhutan gives you access to backpacking through the Himalayas, experiencing Buddhist temples and festivals, and unrivaled beauty. You can trek through alpine meadows and lakes or become a visitor for a few days with a semi-nomadic tribe. Many places within Bhutan will give you a view of Mount Everest while keeping the enjoyment of being off the beaten path.
6. Finnish Lapland
How does it feel to be pulled by dogsled at midnight under the sun to see the northern lights? Head up to the northernmost part of Finland to find out. Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of the ski resorts is a stoic and peaceful winter wonderland begging to be explored. Whether you prefer skiing, split boarding, or snowshoeing, you can get your snow fix here. In addition, take in the wonder of Finland by visiting its only artic village in Kilpisjärvi. You might come for the backcountry snow adventure, but you’ll stay because of the peaceful hospitality of this Arctic place.
7. Lofoten, Norway
An adventure list wouldn’t be complete with somewhere to surf, so here is one of the northernmost places to do so. In Lofoten, Norway, you have access to practically unlimited beaches, rivers, and mountains. You can choose to take a solo ride on the still waters for an extended sunset or head upriver for record-breaking fishing. If you need a rest day here, get in touch with your Scandinavian roots and visit the longest Viking Longhouse there is. For the right mix of endless sunshine, calm or crashing water, and great seafood, come to Lofoten.
8. Skeleton Coast & Namib Desert, Namibia
There is nothing like a desert landscape to give you the feeling of solitude. Skeleton Coast is nicknamed the “Gates of Hell” due to all the shipwrecks that wash up here. The carnage from these strewn about gives off an eerie feeling. Keep your eye out for smaller animals like ghost crabs, iguanas, and jackals. They are more likely to survive the desolate landscape than their larger animal friends. Don’t let all this get you down though as the Namib Desert hosts some of the world’s largest sand dunes. Try taking a toboggan down these and you are sure to get a thrill. As the Namib Desert is one of the oldest in the world, you can experience a rich history here as well.
9. Sierra Leone
Head to Sierra Leone to experience the best of what West Africa has to offer. The culture is years past its civil war, which gives locals a passion for life and community that is unrivaled. Travel either directly up or down the coast from Freetown to experience phenomenal beaches that are private simply because no one else is there. If you’re wanting a greater adventure, ask a local to give you a ride to one of the many islands off the coast.
Then, sit back and enjoy a few days of island life all to yourself. Make sure to experience the rainforest and savannahs in Outamba-Kilimi National Park. This park is home to hundreds of chimpanzees, monkeys, forest elephants, and bird species. Enjoy watching these animals that are easier to spot, or venture up the river with a guide to look for hippos. But, while you’re searching for all these animals, don’t forget to simply take in the breathtaking surrounds of the rainforest.
Pakistan may not sound like a travel destination at first, which is why it is perfect to top off our list of underrated destinations. Lakes, mountains, rivers, and meadows can all be found within hours of each other here. While there are numerous temples and famous places to visit, the Kerthar area is home to mountains, rivers, and caves that the locals love helping you explore.
If you are venturing around the Punjab river, make sure to take a moment to look up. You will be surrounded by lush green farmland, but have snowcapped mountains towering over you. Pakistan truly has a stunning mix of colors and excitement in all four seasons.
If you’re ready to take that next step to find some adventure further away from tourist hubs, look no further than these destinations. We’ve offered you the peace and seclusion of backcountry skiing in a winter wonderland as well as tasting the culture of Bhutan. Give these places a chance to surprise you with their stunning beauty and thrill.
To your next adventure!