One of the world’s most eager water sport enthusiasts, Australians often tailor their holidays to include as much water as possible. An avid surfer and all-round water sport enthusiast myself, here are some destinations that I’ve either visited already or wish to go to in the future, based on what they have to offer off-shore.
Among the most famous surf spots in Australia, Bells Beach is located on the Surf Coast of Victoria, and is a destination on most surfers' bucket lists. The surf at Bells Beach is long, fast and powerful and breaks in almost any condition. The township of Torquay is close by and offers restaurants, bars and beaches with gentler waves for less experienced surfers.
Bells Beach is the first stop on the national heritage listed Great Ocean Road, with surf spots dotted all along the coast and spectacular sites such as the famous Twelve Apostles.
When it comes to surfing overseas, it’s a hard task picking one destination from the abundance of breaks on offer. North Shore of Oahu, Malibu in California, Desert Point in Indonesia, Biarritz in France and Easkey in Ireland... the list goes on.
Chicama in Peru is my idea of surfing’s untouched paradise, a natural wonder where each wave is perfect and seemingly endless. On a good day, the waves break for almost three kilometres, one of the world’s longest waves, and it takes almost half an hour to walk back along the beach afterwards.
Surrounded by coastline and a host to plenty of rivers, Australia offers many spots for guided and unguided kayaking.
Murray River is the country’s longest river and winds its way from the Australian Alps to the coast of South Australia. There are dedicated kayak and canoe trails where you can discover backwaters, creeks and lagoons and you can see wildlife such as kangaroos, emus, koalas, goannas and more native animals along the way.
Internationally, a place that I would love to go to is Glacier Bay in Alaska. You have to be brave and reasonably fit to do it, but there’s a 9-day sea kayaking adventure with National Geographic that takes you to one of the wildest places on earth. You camp out, trek in the largest national forest in the US and head out on a kayak expedition for three days in Glacier Bay. You’ll see huge slabs of ice fall from the glaciers and crash into the water and encounter Alaska’s wildlife up-close.
Tasmania is the place to go to for a white water rafting adventure. With a backdrop of sharp mountain ridges, rolling foot hills and dense rainforests, you’ll travel through natural beauty that will make your jaw drop. Family- and beginner-friendly, Mersey River and Picton River are great for people with less experience, and Franklin River offers a challenge for the more skilled rafters.
You don’t need to travel far to get to some of the best and most scenic whitewater rafting in the world, in Queenstown, New Zealand. Some call it the adventure capital of the world and there are plenty of other activities on offer too. Try a skydive, bungy jump, helicopter trip, canyon swing or a jet boat ride while you’re there. Located by Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown overlooks The Remarkables mountain range and offers whitewater rafting on the Shotover River and Kawarau River.
For those who feel like the above activities don’t appeal to your sensibilities, perhaps try a water activity that, believe it or not, involves very little time anywhere near the water.
Parasailing offers the opportunity to get a thrill while taking in the surroundings from 100 metres above the water. Being towed by a boat, it actually involves very little physical activity at all. You can do it almost anywhere, as long as there is water -- in Sydney Harbour, Surfers Paradise, Mallorca, the Greek Islands or Waikiki Beach in Hawaii -- and you won't get wet (most of the time). This is an adventure that most people can handle, as long as you’re not scared of heights.