4 Outdoor Destinations You Need to Visit at Least Once

Avid outdoor enthusiasts know that some destinations present rare opportunities for self-exploration and experiencing the beauty of nature first hand. Even if your primary goal is climbing or hiking, a few vacation spots provide such enrichment they would fit on anyone's bucket list. The four outdoor destinations that follow each provide a slice of adventure to invoke wonder and fulfillment.

Cancun, Mexico

Cancun has many well-known and lesser-known hikes and outdoor activities all over the area. Punta Laguna Nature Reserve is protected but still offers wildlife and bird watching as well as miles of hiking trails. You can also canoe or visit archaeological ruins. Sac Actun gives you an opportunity to see the longest underwater cave in the world. Your experience can encompass anything from casual swimming to full-scale snorkeling with wetsuits, flashlights, and specialized photography equipment. Finally, you can find pristine nature trails very close to Cancun in Isla Contoy. You can experience the wintering grounds of thousands of birds or the summer nesting sites of numerous sea turtles. Beauty abounds whether you navigate hiking trails with a walking guide or take a boat ride with a biologist.

Big Sur, California

Big Sur supplies more than towering redwoods to view, although the majestic trees alone would make a trip to this national park worthwhile. You can swim in Big Sur River and camp along its shores. There are plenty of hiking trails, with fifty miles broken up along a beautiful coastline and naturally spectacular mountains. You can peer down on awe-inspiring waterfalls like Salmon Creek Falls or McWay Falls. If you need a break from the forested paths, you can hike or run along the beaches with mesmerizing ocean views. You can even make your Big Sur vacation into a road trip along the SoCal coast. Simply rent a car and enjoy the scenic route on your way to Big Sur.

Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Outdoor adventurists can enjoy a wide range of activities in the Alps depending on which season they choose to visit. In the winter, as you would expect, skiing is among the most exhilarating in the world. The breathtaking slopes are also home to sledding, where you can glide several miles down a snowy mountainside. During summer months, the Swiss Alps provides a mecca for bicycling. You can even plan for wildlife sightings and scenic hiking in the Swiss National Park with its 50 miles of nature trails.

Etosha National Park, Namibia

In its dedication to precious wildlife preserves, Namibia provides quite an adventure to draw tourists. You will not necessarily spend much time hiking. Nonetheless, you will be able to enjoy the outdoors your entire vacation. Game tours run day and night. You can make a whole day of wildlife watching at the Okaukuejo camp and waterhole. Swimming and sunbathing are excellent past times during the heat of the day. Night time is when the park really comes alive. Floodlights illuminate after-dark visitors like lions and elephants to the watering hole. Also available are bird watching and a visit to Africa's largest salt bed, The Etosha Salt Pan. Far from being a barren expanse, the salt pan teems with native wildlife.

These four destinations offer something you cannot get from typical outdoor vacations. If you could fit all of them into your lifetime itinerary, you could explore the outdoor world from several unique perspectives. What a culmination of an outdoor adventurist's dream it would be to travel from the tropics of Mexico to the temperate forests and river shores of California or from the alpine peaks of Switzerland to the savannah of Africa.

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