11 Fun Places to Go for Teens with an Adventurous Spirit
All Articles

11 Fun Places to Go for Teens with an Adventurous Spirit

One of the joys of youth is that you’re often up for adventure. There aren’t any worries yet about work responsibilities or aging muscles. Luckily, there are plenty of international destinations where teens can get their heart racing and adrenaline pumping while enjoying fantastic scenery and another culture at the same time.

Here are 11 of the best destinations for middle school and high school students who want to experience adventure travel:

Bavarian Alps, Germany

This region of the Alps in southern Germany is small but leaves a big impression. Steep mountains, lush forests, alpine meadows, and quaint mountain towns – you’ll feel like you’re having the quintessential mountain experience.

In the winter this area is famous for skiing. But, in the summer there are lots more adventures on tap. There are the obvious ones like hiking, rock climbing, and mountaineering. Or, you can look a little deeper and find white water rafting and canyoneering (think hiking, swimming, rappelling, and problem-solving rolled into one).

Berchtesgaden Germany.

The mountain town of Berchtesgaden is an ideal location to enjoy all the adventure activities offered in the Bavarian Alps.

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

This town in northern Costa Rica is a perfect place to visit if you want to dip your toe in adventure travel. The community is nestled amid the foothills near Arenal Volcano.

This area is known for its friendly people and for being a safe destination that’s packed with adventure options. Among the highlights is Arenal Volcano National Park where you can search for volcano rock fields while hiking. You also can trek through jungles searching for sloths, howler monkeys, and other wildlife.

Ziplining is another popular option in the region. You can fly high above the jungle and Arenal Lake. Then if you want to get wet, you can swim underneath the La Fortuna waterfall, go white water rafting on the nearby Sarapiqui River, and soak in hot springs, which often are near pools with fun and fast water slides.

Zipline through the rainforest canopy and observe Arenal Volcano. Copyright: © 2013 Rustic Pathways

La Fortuna can be easily reached by taking a scenic two-and-a-half drive from the country’s capital San Jose. And that city is a short hop and a jump from cities across the United States.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

You may primarily associate these islands with Charles Darwin who developed his theory of evolution here. Wildlife is certainly one of the main reasons you’d want to visit the islands.

Animals that walk, fly, and swim across this chain of islands are not accustomed to much human contact or predators. Therefore, you can see wild animals at a closer range than you would elsewhere. Plus, there are so many interesting creatures to search for ranging from the blue-footed booby to marine iguanas.

Hiking is one of the best ways to search for wildlife and scenic views. But you also need to hop in the sea to get a complete picture, making the islands a perfect destination for teens who love water.

Check out the underwater world while snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands. Photo: Taya Puner, Ecuador 2022

Snorkeling is one of the best bets. There are many places to snorkel from the picturesque Concha Perla Bay to the well-known Kicker Rock location where you can swim side by side with marine turtles. The islands are also a great place to try surfing and other water activities.

Krabi, Thailand

Thailand is often listed as being one of the best nations in the world for adventure travel.  Throughout the country, there are a plethora of activity options amid the country’s diverse landscape, which includes mountains, tropical rainforests and stunning beaches.

One of the best spots for teens is Krabi, located on the west coast of southern Thailand. The beaches in the region are flanked by limestone cliffs and mangrove forests. Plus, a number of islands are a short boat ride away.

This area is world-renowned for rock climbing. The limestone cliffs overhanging the beaches offer plenty of options for enthusiasts, ranging from beginner to advanced climbers. There also are many areas where you can snorkel amid the reefs. Regardless of the activity, it’s hard to beat the views in Krabi. That alone makes travel to the region memorable.

Test your bravery by rock climbing in Krabi, Thailand. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

Bayan-Ulgii, Mongolia

If you want a really different experience that you’ll brag about to your friends, add Mongolia to your bucket list. How many people do you know have traveled to Mongolia? And what are you missing when you don’t go there?

For one, you’ll see people living a very different lifestyle than the average Westerner. Mongolia has a large nomadic population that lives in Mongolian tents called gers. They move at least twice a year, and they survive by herding animals.

Wander through the stunning landscapes of Mongolia. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

Mongolia may not have some of the adrenaline-pumping activities that other nations have, but it’s hard to argue that hiking through the nation is not an adventure. One of the highlights is walking through the Altai Tavan Bogd Mountain Range. This area is considered the figurative end of the world since it includes the point on Earth that is farthest from any ocean. The snow-capped mountains provide the perfect backdrop for camping and exploring.

Sacred Valley, Peru

Another great destination for camping and exploring is the Sacred Valley in Peru. Many people who visit Peru pick the famous Incan ruins at Machu Picchu as their prime destination. Viewing the ancient ruins beneath the mist is an unforgettable experience. Hiking in the region is an adventure of a lifetime.

Whitewater rafting on the Urubamba River

Whitewater raft down the Urubamba River and zipline to get your adrenaline pumping. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

While in the country, exploring the Andean region known as the Sacred Valley is also a must for teens with an adventurous spirit. The region is dotted with indigenous communities and has challenging hikes near stunning glacial lakes. You also can go mountain biking, paddle boarding, ziplining, and white water rafting, visit hot springs, and try eating guinea pig.

Big Island, Hawaii

The Big Island is officially named Hawaii, and it has eight climate zones that include lush valleys, the snow-capped mountain of Mauna Kea, and beaches. The island generally has two sides. The Kona side has plenty of beaches and mostly dry weather. Hilo is on the rainy side of the island. Throughout the island, the diverse landscape offers ample opportunities for adventure.

Search for marine life while snorkeling off the coast of Big Island, Hawaii. Photo: Luke Lagao, Hawaii 2023

On the island, you can zipline above waterfalls and surf on some of the best waves anywhere. You can snorkel amid giant manta rays and other marine life. You can hike in areas jumping with life-like Puʻuwaʻawaʻa State Forest Reserve and also across the ash-filled landscape around Volcanoes National Park. You also can swim in both freshwater and saltwater and visit beaches with white, black, or green sand. Along the way, you can embrace local Hawaiian culture. You will certainly not run out of things to do on the Big Island.

Bayahibe, Dominican Republic

This picturesque town in the southern Dominican Republic gives you everything you’d expect in a Caribbean coastal community. The palm tree-lined beaches are a haven for travelers who love water activities. The region is particularly known for diving and snorkeling amid the coral reefs. As a bonus, some adventurous travelers also like to explore the underwater world in nearby caves and caverns since the region has a whole system of freshwater caves.

Explore the beautiful beaches in the Dominican Republic.

Off the coast, you also can take a boat ride to nearby Saona Island where you can see starfish in the shallow clear Blue Lagoon and visit a turtle sanctuary.  Likewise, you can search for dolphins, manatees, and other marine life in waters that are brimming with animal activity.

Nadi, Fiji

Nadi is located on the western side of Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu. It can be used as a jumping ground both for island hopping and for traveling inland into the Highlands with its lush green landscape where you can hike and explore.

Go island hopping in Fiji. Copyright: © 2022 Rustic Pathways

As a nation, Fiji is another great destination for teens who love water activities, particularly boating. At every turn, there is another island and view as you cruise through the seawater. There also are many places where you can stop to snorkel or dive. As an added bonus, an hour south of Nadi is the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park where you can jump around the dunes and get spectacular views of the ocean.

Cairns, Australia

This city in northeastern Australia is a great launching point for a journey to see one of the most unique natural wonders on Earth – the Great Barrier Reef. It’s made up of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and is visible from space. The reef system is home to 1500 species of fish and covers an area of 348,000 square kilometers, which is about 134,000 square miles. There’s so much to explore amid the coral reefs of this massive underwater kingdom.

The marine life is abundant around the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Copyright: @ 2023 Rustic Pathways

After you dry off, you also can trek through the Daintree Rainforest, which is the oldest rainforest in the world. You also can take to the air on a high-speed, multi-person jungle swing over the water and treetops at a popular adventure park in Cairns.

Dades Valley, Morocco

Morocco was hard hit by an earthquake in 2023, and one of the keys to recovery is rebuilding its tourism industry. Fortunately the Dades Valley region of the country south of the Atlas Mountains was not hard hit by the quake.

In this region, adventure-seeking teens can explore areas where passageways snake through gorges that formed amid the red rock. They also can view ancient fortified cities. And teens can hop on a camel and trek into the Sahara Desert where they can camp beneath the stars.

Explore the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Copyright: © 2015 Rustic Pathways

If time is on your hands, teens also can travel to places like the funky beach town of Essaouira where you can surf. A high ropes and ziplining course is also nearby for adventure seekers who want an adrenaline rush.

All these destinations have so many things to do, you’ll undoubtedly have the time of your life traveling to any of them. If you can’t choose between these options, give us a call. Rustic Pathways can get teens started on the journey. Student travel programs are available in all these adventure travel locations.

About the Author

Mary Rogelstad

Lead Editor

Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.