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10 Unusual Active Family Adventures

10 Unusual Active Family Adventures
Written by Kirstie Pelling

10 Unusual Active Family Adventures

In almost two decades of travelling the world as a family, we’ve come across some rather unusual yet highly active family activities. Sky cycling anyone? Or how about some underground trampolining? In this post, a collaboration with Expedia, we put together some of our favourites,  for those who are seeking some adrenaline adventures, and offer up information about the practicalities of what, where and why we think you should have a go. Looking for unusual things to do? Look no further….

1 Swimming in a hot volcano

Where to do it? In Viti Crater at Askja; part of Iceland’s rugged interior.

What is it? A pretty big volcanic bath tub. Filled with geothermally heated water. Forget the expense of the Blue Lagoon; this is real spa bathing in an utterly natural environment.

Who can do it? Anyone who has a 4×4 vehicle and is prepared for a longish walk and a steep journey down into the crater. Elisabet at Fjalladyrd, based on the highest farm in Iceland can act as your guide and provide transport.

Why invest? This is the stuff that memories are made of. And you may get to see an Icelandic man in a green mankini. We did. Although clothes are optional.

More Information: Check out this post: Swim in a hot volcano at Askja

Viti Crater, Askja Caldera

Scramble down into the Viti Crater of the Askja Caldera and you can swim in a volcano

2 Taking sanctuary with Catalonian donkeys

Where to do it? Costa Barcelona

What is it? Pure relaxation. With a bell on it. Rucs Del Corredor is a donkey preservation centre in the Canyamars Valley, about 50 km north west of Barcelona. The sanctuary rescues donkeys from humans, and in turn the donkeys rescue humans from the stresses of life. Just for an hour or two. You can’t fail to relax as you plod along the Catalonian hills. You don’t even need to steer, the donkeys know exactly where they are going. But you do feel you’ve had a workout – even if you haven’t been doing any of the work.

Who can do it? There’s riding for all the family, and other donkey related activities for anyone who doesn’t want to hop on, in Parc del Rukimon. Check out their website for further information.

Why invest? Four legs are better than two. Sit back and enjoy this different form of slow travel.

More Information: Check out this post: 7 Nature inspired day trips from Barcelona

Young Donkey at Rucs del Corredor, Costa Barcelona

Young Donkey at Rucs del Corredor, Costa Barcelona

3 Bouncing below in Wales

Where to do it? Bounce Below, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Snowdonia.

What is it? In a word? Bouncy. A series of nets, slides and trampolines form the backbone of this attraction. But it’s the underground slate mine that provides the atmosphere. In a cavern twice the size of St Pauls you can jump, bounce and fly down tubes, through tunnels, up circular staircases and into the dark on this well designed assortment of giant trampolines. Just don’t look down.

Who can do it? Perfect for families although not for anyone who fears the dark or confined underground spaces. If you have really small children (age 3-6) they can do their own version in the aptly named Junior Bounce Below.

Why invest? Come on, how often do you get to have a go on a trampoline under the earth? It’s Lord of the Rings, with springs!

More Information: Check out our video of Bounce Below.

4 Surviving Bear Grylls style at locations around the world

Where to do it? There are various Bear Grylls franchises across the globe. One of the most challenging is a five day adventure in Scotland with a 30 hour island drop at the end. We did a half day family taster session in Wales last winter. You can also do a desert version.

What is it? Bootcamp for bushcraft enthusiasts.

Who can do it? The full on Scottish version is adults only. Our kids coped fine with the family version. It is important that you have a certain level of fitness as there is some running, ducking and commando style crawling involved.

Why invest? You get a free mud pack with every booking. But you have to wear it home!

More Information: Check out this post: Bear Gryll’s Survival Academy in Wales. Or for a taster have a look at this video.

5 Pedalling the canals of Holland’s capital city

Where to do it? Amsterdam

What is it? Freedom. Everyone tells you how great it is to cycle in Amsterdam. But the reality is that pavements and junctions tend to get a bit congested with two wheel contraptions. For a self guided tour of Amsterdam in a less popular human powered way, then hire a pedalo. If you pay for a day you can park up and hop on and off at some of Amsterdam’s great attractions, paddling your legs like a duck in rush hour. Stop near Anne Frank’s house or pop into the museums. But do beware the cruisers. They are way bigger than you!

Who can do it? Anyone who can pedal and float at the same time.

Why invest? Pedalo power. It’s a thing. Really.

More Information: Check the Canal Bike website.

On a pedalo on the Amsterdam Canals

Exploring the canals of Amsterdam by pedalo.

6 Snowdome skiing in the desert heat

Where to do it? In a Mall. Yes really. In Dubai. Of course.

What is it? A bit decadent. There’s something naughty about shrugging off the desert heat and clambering onto a ski lift so you can play in the powder. But after you’ve spent a while in the Dubai sun it will come as a very welcome relief. Ski Dubai is the first ever indoor ski centre in the Middle East; an enormous snow dome in Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates. You can hire equipment and with some sessions they even throw in free gloves. (which you won’t need for the rest of your holiday that’s for sure!)

Who can do it? Anyone who can ski is welcome to use the slopes. You can take lessons and little ones can use the play park, meet real penguins or do the bob or snow tube.

Why invest? Pure novelty factor. Which is probably why they built it.

More Information: Check out this post: 25 reasons to visit family friendly Dubai

Ski Dubai in Dubai Mall

Ski Dubai in Dubai Mall

6 Sand surfing at the edge of the world

Where to do it? Cape Reinga, New Zealand

What is it? It’s the opposite (I hesitate to say polar opposite!) of the above activity. Cape Reinga, situated on New Zealand’s North Island, is a magical mystic place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific and Maori spirits are believed to make the leap from this life to their spiritual home. Nearby 90 mile beach is a cycle ride and a half and if you avoid the rush hour of tourist coaches. But if you’re limited for time and want an easy thrill then try sand surfing. A range of local operators such as Ahikaa Adventures can provide a boogie board and a little push.

Who can do it? Pretty much everyone. Our kids were little more than toddlers and I was pregnant but we all still had a go. However on steep slopes you’ll be wishing you’d pocketed that Dubai mall ski lift.

Why invest? It’s not often you get to face plant and eat sand at the end of the world.

Sand Surfing on Te Paki Sand Dunes New Zealand

Sand Surfing on Te Paki Sand Dunes New Zealand

8 Filipino Sky cycling

Where to do it? On the chocolate hilled island of Bohol;- one of over 7000 plus islands of the Philippines.

What is it? What it says on the tin. Biking high in the air. The Chocolate Hills Adventure Park provides the bikes, the high wire, a helmet and a forest to cycle over. All you have to do is pedal. You can wave to a family member 150 feet up if you set off when they are on their way back. If you don’t fancy cycling sky high then you can always go tree root climbing at Loboc Eco tourism Adventure Park. Or for a more urban thrill, visit nearby Cebu city and you can sky walk around the top of a local skyscraper.

Who can do it? People above 6 years old and four foot in height. Or any grown up family member with a bit of bottle.

Why invest? Pedalling through clouds is one of those life enhancing things to do.

More Information: Check out this post: The Philippines – travel that matters or take a look at this video.

9 Slovenia underground cave boating

Where to do it? Krizna Jama Caves in Slovenia’s karst region.

Who can do it? Minimum age is ten to go down this state owned network of caves although they allowed us some flexibility. However it does require a bit of stamina as you are underground for several hours – four hours in summer and up to seven in winter. You navigate the caves in a little rowing boat and by foot, going deeper and deeper into the silent earth. You will see stalagmites and stalagtites and creatures that have never seen the light. Even the most well travelled of you will be hushed by this glimpse into unseen nature.

Why invest? It’s a unique experience to examine the world under your feet. You may even find you look deeper into yourself in all the hours of silent paddling.

More Information: Check out this post: Family Caving at Krizna Jama or this video will give you a glimpse into this eery underworld.

10 Scilly beachcombing

Where to do it? You can of course do this anywhere. But our most recent experience was in The Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall.

What is it? A relaxing form of recycling. Take a bag and collect shells. And glass that’s been smoothed by the sea. And bit of pottery. And stones. And the flotsam and jetsam of the human and natural world. If you want to make art with it then ask the artists collective at Phoenix Crafts in St Mary’s to help you. They also run drop in sessions and day courses on stained glass roundel making and silk painting.

Who can do it? Everyone from toddlers to granny. And the dog if you fancy a stick or two.

Why invest? The best things in life are free. And so is the sea.

More Information: Check out this post: Art from nature

Beachcombing on Isles of Scilly

Beachcombing on Isles of Scilly

Disclosure Note:This post is brought to you in collaboration with Expedia. The activity suggestions, copy, images and video are all our own and based upon our personal experience.

About the author

Kirstie Pelling

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.


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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...


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