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The “adventure vacation” industry has grown considerably over the past 10 to 15 years, now drawing people from all ages and all walks of life. One thing to keep in mind when you plan an adventure trip is that it doesn’t need to be dangerous. This means you don’t have to book skydiving or hang-gliding to make it an “official” adventure trip; nor will you be required to walk across a creaky foot bridge at the top of a waterfall. All you need is a sense of adventure and the willingness to step outside of your comfort zone. So pack your camping supplies, sleeping bag and hiking boots – and don’t forget your favorite bottled drinking water. Your first adventure vacation is one you won’t soon forget.

Destination: Yosemite

According to an article in U.S. News and World Report’s travel section, “Best Adventure Vacations in the USA,” Yosemite is the number one destination for adventure. Located in California’s Sierra Nevada region, this national park is sure to satisfy your appetite for outdoor activities. People come from every state to take in the massive sequoia trees, glorious meadows, majestic mountains – and of course the nation’s highest waterfall. Naturalists, hikers, campers, bikers, horseback riders and fishermen descend on Yosemite all year-round to escape the daily grind.

While the park encompasses 1,193 acres, most visitors stay within a valley that is only seven square miles. True adventure seekers will camp far from the traffic and truly immerse themselves in the great outdoors. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the valley and see Half Dome and El Capitan, hike the trails through natural monuments, and take a climbing lesson or two; but there is so much more to Yosemite. More than 750 miles of trails await, so be sure to ask a park ranger which ones to tackle first. Even if you just drive through the park, be prepared to for some of the most incredible scenery to be found anywhere.

Destination: Maui

This may not be your most typical adventure vacation, but outdoor enthusiasts find plenty of adrenalin-pumping action on the island of Maui. If your idea of a Hawaiian getaway doesn’t translate to a poolside cabana, why not try sea kayaking, volcano hiking or a mule ride up the side of a mountain. Then be sure to take in the awe-inspiring scenery of Maui’s northeast coast, complete with roaring waterfalls and jagged peaks. While it’s tempting to check out the other islands, such as Oahu, Kauai and the big Island of Hawaii, many vacationers are quite satisfied with Maui on its own. It offers everything for the adventure traveler but it’s also family friendly and full of everything you need to experience the Hawaiian archipelago.

Destination: Puerto Rico

For East Coast vacationers, Puerto Rico is a no-brainer, but many people don’t realize how much it offers for the adventure seeker. Surfers come here for the 20-foot waves and naturalists enjoy looking for unique wildlife within the El Yunque National Rainforest. In case you didn’t remember this from high school history class, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, so you won’t need to exchange your dollars for another currency. It offers a mix of contemporary culture and historical towns, as well as an exhilarating variety of landscapes. From the corkscrew caves of Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy, to the jaw-dropping beauty of Culebra and Vieques islands, there is plenty to see and do in Puerto Rico.

Safety tips for Adventure Travelers

It may be tempting to throw caution to the wind when you indulge your sense of adventure, but always take the time to plan ahead for these trips. If you’re hiking through the jungles of Puerto Rico, you will need to bring plenty of bottled drinking water, wear comfortable walking shoes, and plenty of insect repellent. Never take on a challenge unless you are really up to it, or you could find yourself seeking the nearest emergency room. When you have the option, try new things such as rock climbing and whitewater rafting only when accompanied by an experienced guide and follow all the safety instructions.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net