Featured Image for Looking for your next holiday destination? Check out these ultimate sporting pilgrimages from around the globe

Looking for your next holiday destination? Check out these ultimate sporting pilgrimages from around the globe

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Well, it’s that time of year again. The summer is wrapping up, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably sitting restlessly in your office thinking about where you’re headed for your next holiday.

If you yearn for adventure and are looking to get active wherever you go, we’ve got put together a list of exciting places that you can’t miss.

Dive through the largest organism in the South Pacific

Dubbed everything from “the best dive location on earth” to “the soft coral capital of the world”, it’s fair to say that the bar is set pretty high when it comes to Fiji’s diving.

Whether you’d rather satisfy your adventurous spirit by exploring underwater caverns and tunnels of The Great Astrolabe Reef, or seek inspiration from the countless colours displayed by the coral and tropical fish of the Rainbow Reef, diving in Fiji has something for you.

With thousands of species of fish and hundreds of coral (not to mention friendly visitors who pass through, such as marine turtles and whales), the ecosystem that lies under the surface is one of the most beautiful and biodiverse anywhere on the planet.

Regardless of whether you’re a recreational rookie, or a seasoned vet, there is a dive in Fiji for you. Padi travel can help you find an established local dive centre for the tried and tested highlights, or a liveaboard if you’d rather spend a few nights discovering forgotten underwater gems.

There are even underwater photography courses, marine species identification courses and advanced diving courses available through Padi travel.

Cycle your way along the Spanish coast

This one is quite literally a pilgrimage. The Camino de Santiago is a network of trails cris-crossing around the Iberian peninsula, all converging on the City of Santiago.

The well-trodden trail is usually walked, but many of the routes make fantastic mountain bike paths for anyone enthusiastic enough. The frequent use of the trail as a religious pilgrimage has led to the establishment of countless “albergues” (free or very cheap accommodation) all along the trail.

The Camino del Norte, which follows the Northern coast of Spain from San Sebastian to Santiago is about 850kms, and offers the best bike routes and coastal vistas. You’d want to put aside about eight weeks if you wanted to attempt the whole thing from start to finish.

Ski down Slovenian slopes

Now this one is a pretty well-kept secret, but trust us, it won’t be for long. Unlike most ski resorts around the world, the main attraction of Slovenia’s Vogel is its beautiful lake rather than its resort.

The truly beautiful ski area, which lies in the Triglav National Park, offers great prices, incredible views of the Julian Alps, a range of slopes for any skiing ability and a nimble network of cable-cars to zip from one side of the range to the other.

In exchange for all this, Vogel doesn’t offer much in the way of nightlife, but if you still have the energy after hours of off-piste exploration, then Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, is just an hour’s drive away.

Surf Viti Levu

For many travellers, surfing is synonymous with Fiji. And for good reason! The archipelago boasts great surf conditions year-round, with swells of up to 12 feet consistently rolling in throughout March and October.

Incredible surf regions are scattered all throughout Fiji’s 300-plus islands. The Mamanuca Islands and Viti Levu are two such locations, and whilst they both provide awesome waves, they lie at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum.

Viti Levu is the main island of Fiji. Home to 70 per cent of the population, it is the perfect escape from the resorts to see the real Fiji on any budget. Between the famous Fiji Pipe and a variety of both left and right breaks, Viti Levu will deliver awesome surf at any time of year.

If you are after a bit more of a challenge, you will not be disappointed by the big swell, barrels and beautiful crystalline waters of the Mamanuca Islands. A palm-fringed paradise that lies a few kilometres west of the mainland, the natural beauty of the archipelago is complemented by enough tourist infrastructure to keep you comfortable, without sacrificing the pristine environment.

Most of the surf breaks in Fiji are over reefs, so inexperienced surfers will benefit from a few expert tips. The Fiji Surf Company runs a comprehensive surf school for all levels.

Climb the crags in Canada

With over 1000 different routes, climbers are spoiled for choice in Canada’s Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. With so many routes comes a lot of variety, beginners and experts alike could easily spend weeks on end exploring the crags.

Most of the edges offer very friendly and well-established holds, and there are plenty of angles to suit everyone’s ability.

If you plan on going for a trip here, you’ll need a few things, like a 60m rope and a camping spot booked. You can find out more details over at Off Track Travel’s awesome blog.

Swim with the sharks in Beqa lagoon

If diving the depths and surfing across reefs sound all well and good, but don’t quite get your heart racing, then worry not. As it happens, Fiji is also home to the best shark dives on the planet.

Beqa Island is home to a lagoon boasting a phenomenally bio-diverse micro-ecosystem, featuring colourful coral and tropical fish. What draws adrenaline junkies from near and far, however, is the eight different species of sharks who call Beqa lagoon home.

For the adventurous souls who want to get face to face with the sharks, Fiji’s shark conservation marine park runs their own multi-award winning dive operator. The highlight of the dive would have to be witnessing the death-defying professional Fijian divers feed the ferocious sharks.

Ride a sandboard down the tallest sand dune in the world

Cerro Blanco is certainly a monumental dune. Standing over a kilometre tall, the peak of Peruvian sand dune occasionally disappears above the clouds.

As it can take over 4 hours to climb, you will want to make sure you are in good shape and well prepared before you try to tackle this beast, but once you get to the top, you will certainly be rewarded it.

Aside from outstanding views, the exhilarating ride down the dune via sandboard is one of the best on the planet.

Its an unusual and potentially messy sport, sure, but the annual Sandboarding cup has been held here every year since its inception in 2009.

All of these activities barely scratch the surface of what’s out there, but we think they are a pretty good start. If you’re keen to head out on your own ultimate sporting pilgrimage, you may want to book a ticket to one of these beautiful countries ASAP!

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