By ISA Staff, Caroline Tosbath and Kendra Ansotigue
There are those of us who live for adventure or those of us who simply love the great outdoors. For some, that means reading a good book at the beach, mountain biking on rugged terrain, or scuba diving to the depths of the ocean. There aren’t many places where you can do all of these things, but we’ve made sure to include ISA locations that provide you outdoor enthusiasts with endless options.
Caro’s Top Picks:
Cairns, Australia: Cairns is a tropical and rugged city also known as, the gateway to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Not only is it the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef but Cairns is very well known for it’s activities- scuba diving, snorkeling, white water rafting, trail riding, hiking, bungee jumping and plenty of awesome day tours. ISA also includes excursions to Daintree National Park (think exploring the rainforest and taking a wildlife cruise), the Atherton Tablelands (think mountains, waterfalls, countryside) and Kuranda. Kuranda, or “the Village of the Rainforest” is a really popular destination in Carins and one of the most unique aspects Kuranda is you must get there via the Rainforest Skyrail (a railway that is situated across the rainforest canopy!). I almost forgot, expect over 300 days of sunshine here.
Dunedin, New Zealand: One of my closest friends and colleagues here at ISA studied abroad in Dunedin and can attest that if you’re looking for thrilling adventures and beautiful scenery, this is a perfect city. Beaches galore, surfing, hikes and cycling (warning: it’s hilly) are great activities in the city proper. Not to mention, situated in the Otago Peninsula, Dunedin is known for having awesome wildlife (penguins!). There are all sorts of nature preserves and opportunities for bird watching and wildlife tours. Finally, it is one of the closest cities to Queenstown, a city defined largely by adventure tourism and considered the “Adventure Capital of the World”. Visitors go mountain biking, hiking, skiing, zip lining, or bungee jumping on the Kawarau Bridge, home to the world’s first commercial bungy jump.
Cape Town, South Africa: We’ve mentioned Cape Town before as a great option for a student looking to explore a big city during their time abroad. However, Cape Town deserves to be mentioned again today because of the abundant amount of nature making up this marvelous city. There are so many national parks and preserves that offer various activities to locals and tourists alike. Table Mountain National Park is home to Table Mountain, a new addition to the 7 Wonders of the World, and also home to a beautiful view of Cape Town. Activities such as, hiking, fishing, scuba diving, rock climbing, paragliding and horse riding are offered at this national park as well as many of the other parks in Cape Town. The Aquila Game Reserve (an ISA excursion) is a conservancy where students can go on a safari and see animals like, elephants, leopards and rhinos! Beaches, wildlife, mountains and iconic landmarks are all at your fingertips in Cape Town.
Kendra’s Top Picks:
Málaga, Spain: One of Spain’s most hidden gems, Málaga offers a wide variety of outdoor activities that all thrill seekers search for. With water sports like windsurfing, parasailing, and jet skiing being a focus, students can opt to participate in these activities if laying out on the 10+ beaches located throughout the city is not enough. Not only does this city have so many water activities, hiking, biking, and skydiving are also a popular choice! So, if you’re looking for a city that is sunny all year round with activities ranging from the beach to the mountains, Málaga is your city!
Florianopolis, Brazil: As a city surrounded by water, this little island has a plethora of beaches students can go to for surfing, swimming, fishing, or even just relaxing in the sun. Sand surfing (exactly what is sounds like) better known as, “sandboarding,” is very popular activity among students at the enormous sand dunes at Joaquina Beach. If you’re on your way to one of the many breathtaking beaches here, expect quite a trek through the forests! Finally, the State Park of Serra do Tabuleiro serves to protect the Atlantic Forest (a very important source of drinking water) and animal species such as the endangered, tapir. The park is also open to visitors who want to hike trails and go on tours to learn about the very unique ecosystem!
Cusco, Peru: Located in the Andes Mountains, Cusco is known as the archaeological capital of the Americas and is a hiker’s dream city. Being only 2 hours away from Machu Picchu, a World Heritage Site, students have the opportunity to hike the ruins as the Inca’s did back in the 15th and 16th century. In addition to the hike through the Sacred Valley, there are many other great opportunities for exploration close to this ISA destination that students can take full advantage of. Even though the altitude can be a rough adjustment, this city is a must see for students looking to hike their way back through history and discover more than just what is in the books.