9 Death-Defying Activities You’ll Only Try While On Vacation
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Looking for a bit of adrenaline on your next vacation? There are plenty of places to visit that have heart stopping, blood pumping adventures that allow you to take the thrill factor to the next level! Whether you want to live like a daredevil or test your limits of what you thought possible, we put together a list of amazing activities for you. And, what’s better than living on the edge while you’re on vacation? Below are some of the best thrill seeking activities to check out on your next trip, so you can fuel your adrenaline seeking fire all over the world.
1. Skydiving In The Rockies, ColoradoThrowing yourself out of a plane at 18,000 feet? Talk about adrenaline! There’s no surprise that jumping in one of the skydiving mecas of the world, with some of the highest, longest free falls in the country made this list. At Mile-Hi Skydiving, jumpers are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world – The Rocky Mountains. Just 13 miles outside of Boulder and 35 miles from the Denver metro area, this is an easy thrillseeking getaway during your next visit to Colorado. If you’re a newbie, you must jump tandem with a guide, but if you have the credentials you can go solo. I went tandem and loved every minute of it. You freefall at 130mph 18,000-feet above sea level and you can opt for multiple jumps in one day if one time isn’t enough. Pricing starts at ~$200, but they often have specials so keep an eye out. Anyone can participate in this exhilarating sport, even people in their 90’s have enjoyed the thrill of skydiving at Mile-Hi. I went skydiving here on my 18th birthday and it definitely lived up to the hype. Although I was scared at first, the guides made me feel comfortable and confident. The jump was scary and I thought my heart was going to beat out of my chest, but once I was free falling it was all worth it. One of my favorite parts was after my guide pulled the parachute. Because I got to enjoy the spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains while slowly drifting down to the flat ground and letting my heart start to beat normally.
2. The Running of The Bulls, SpainRunning of The Bulls (aka The Encierro), is an annual event that always falls on July 6 to July 14. So keep your eye on the dates in case they fall middle of the week or on a weekend. There’s truly nothing that compares to Sanfermin Festival in Pampolona, Spain. It is notably one of the greatest festivals in the world. The Running of The Bulls is the best-known event at the festival and definitely worth your time if you’re seeking a serious adrenaline rush. The Encierro takes place in the heart of the Sanfermines and is a spectacle that is as colorful, crazy and fun as it gets. Whether you’re participating or watching from the sidelines your heart is sure to race either way. History states, The Running of The Bulls started from the need to get bulls from outside the city into the bullring. The course is half a mile or 875 meters, the distance between the bullring and the corral. The run only lasts three to four minutes and is sure to get your heart pumping. You have to be at least 18 years of age to participate and we would highly encourage a little training beforehand. If you decide to run, it’s recommended you have quick reflexes, be physically fit and have cool nerves because it’s a risky endeavor. Runners typically wear all-white with red bandanas or neckercheifs and red sash belts. This is a traditional local custom, but it also ensures maximum visibility for the bulls, other runners, and spectators. There have been 15 deaths in The Running of The Bulls, so have your wits about you and be careful!
3. Bungy Jumping, New ZealandWant to test your fear of heights? Bungy jumping is the thrill you need. At the Nevis Bungy outside of Queenstown, New Zealand the trolly cart to the top of the 134-meter platform is just the beginning of the thrill. Once you made it to the platform, you will be sure to get the jitters of New Zealand’s highest freefall bungy. You will free fall for 8.5 heart-stopping seconds, of pure fear and adrenaline, and you will be reeling in the excitement for hours. If the 134-meter jump is not for you, you can check out their smaller jumps close by, including the 47-meter Ledge Bungy with insane views of Queenstown or the Kewarau Bridge Bungy, a 43-meter jump down to the Kewarau River, getting you close enough to touch the water. I jumped off of the Kewarau Bridge Bungy in 2013 and immediately wanted to climb back up to the bridge and jump again. I will admit, the jump doesn’t look very high in photos, but once you get in your harness, get strapped to the bungy, and led to the jumping platform, the jump jitters set in and every bone in your body tells you not to throw yourself off that ledge. The bungy operators are used to the pre-jump jitters and they have all sorts of tricks and tips to help you take the plunge off the ledge into the valley below. One tip they told me was don’t think, just jump. The longer you delay, the scarier it seems, so close your eyes and send it! Be sure to make a reservation for the bungy jump that you want and show up early to get your excitement up by watching jumpers go before you. Students get a sizeable discount, so be sure to bring your Student ID if you have one!
4. Via Ferrata, ItalyWant to get your blood rushing while also enjoying world-class views AND getting exercise? Then the Via Ferrata in the Dolomites in Italy should be next on your list. Via Ferrata is Italian for “iron way” and is a protected climbing route on the side of a mountain equipped with steel cables, fixed anchors, ladders, and suspended bridges. Climbers attach themselves to the cables fixed on the walls with proper climbing equipment and traverse across the rock or ladders to the next set of cables. Via Ferratas can vary in length from short routes taking an hour or 2 to multi-day routes with single days taking eight or more hours to complete. If you made it all the way to Italy you might as well go big and spend a couple days out there in the big mountains. The best part about this adventure? If you choose a multi-day trip there are a series of hut systems up in the Italian mountains that you can stay at each night. All the huts have an option for home cooked breakfast and dinner, beds to sleep in, running water, and a view that you can’t even dream of. There are even huts where you can wash and hang your laundry out to dry. All types of people can hike the Via Ferratas from 8 years old to 80 years old, it just depends on your willpower, strength, and fear of heights. You can go with a guided service like Dolomite Mountains. Or if you are competent and confident with your map reading and outdoor skills, you can go on your own. My 67-year-old mom, her husband, and best friends just got back from an eight-day trip and she said it was a 13/10 on a 10 point scale. They stayed in huts, climbed high ladders, traversed big rock and ate and drank like queens.
5. Swimming with Sharks, HawaiiOahu, Hawaii is the number one location in the U.S. for shark sightings. So it makes sense that it would be the number one place in the world for people that want to take the extra risk to swim with them. In Oahu, divers generally run into galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks, and the occasional whale or tiger sharks and there are snorkel tours and outfitters that allow swimmers and divers to get up close and personal with these deadly creatures. At Ocean Diving in Oahu, they teach swimmers and snorkelers to swim with sharks without a cage, which to some divers is unheard of! Typically, the cage between the diver and the shark is the only thing keeping them alive. But, at Ocean Diving, they teach divers to be calm and collected when swimming with less aggressive sharks without a cage. They also teach divers the history, and biology of the animals and educate customers on the surrounding habitat. The tour leaders do not use chum to attract sharks, nor do they protect the divers in cages, in an effort to have the experience be as real, and positive as possible. It is not uncommon for the sharks to be accompanied by sea turtles, a plethora of fish and even dolphins. At Ocean Diving the goal is to have divers to be thrilled, educated and excited to share their love of the dive and adventure with others.
6. Race Car Driving, NevadaGot the need for speed? Do you ever watch Fast and the Furious and feel like YOU should be driving that car? Me too. Speed Vegas has everything you need to drive fast, get your heart rate up and fulfill your dreams of driving in a Lamborghini Huracan or Ferrari 458. There are a plethora of fast, sexy cars you can choose from and packages that include five or more laps on the Speed Vegas raceway. Speed Vegas has a package called Adrenaline Rush where drivers can experience an American muscle car or a finely German engineered car. The package includes professional coaching, access to the pit area, 5 laps on the exclusive Speed Vegas racetrack, and complimentary round-trip transportation from any Las Vegas Strip hotels. I would suggest testing out the Shelby Mustang GT which has a 456-horsepower engine and goes 0-60 mph in 3.5 seconds. The Speed Vegas track is the longest driving track in Las Vegas totaling at 1.5 miles. There are 12 challenging turns, 60-feet of total elevation change and NO SPEED LIMIT.
7. Cliff Jumping, VermontCliff jumping is one of the most fun and high risk activities that you can do as a thrill seeker. Red Rocks Park in Burlington, Vermont is one of the most popular and has some of the most adventurous, risky jumps in the country. And, it’s not just the height that makes these jumps so exciting it’s the jagged rocks and freezing cold water takes these jumps to the next level of thrill-seeking. There are spots along the 100-acre park with up to 80-foot jumps. But, for those that are looking for a little less thrill, there are smaller jumps just around the corner anywhere from 10 to 60 feet. These jumps are a little more comfortable for those not accustomed to the 60+ foot jumps. Finding some of these jumps can be tricky so I recommend asking a local or paying super close attention to the old, faded spray painted directions on the surrounding rocks. I jumped off of the 80-foot plunge in 2010, and I am still shaking in my boots. Many people have died attempting these risky jumps into freezing water of Lake Champlain, so be smart and stay safe while checking out these jumps!
8. Volcano Boarding, NicaraguaYou’re probably wondering, “What the heck is volcano boarding?” Well, first off it’s a sport for the slightly insane and adventure-seeking daredevil and second, you have to hike up an active volcano to do it. In Cerro Negro, Nicaragua you can try this dangerous endeavour, although it’s not for the faint-hearted. Do you dare? Volcano boarding or surfing as some call it is a sport performed on volcano slopes. Riders hike 45 minutes to an hour up the side of a volcano and slide down standing or sitting on a thin plywood or metal board. The full ride is about is almost 2,400-feet and takes less than three minutes to get down. Icing on the cake? The volcano is STILL ACTIVE and even though it’s activity is monitored regularly and the volcano hasn’t erupted since 1999, it still could. You can go as fast as you want, but be prepared for scrapes and burns, volcanic rock pieces in your arm and bruises everywhere if you happen to take a fall. Even though you’re kitted out with a jumpsuit to protect against the unforgiving volcanic terrain, there’s a good chance you’re still going to walk away with a couple scrapes or bruises. Another crazy thing about this activity is it only costs $30 per person… so you’re only paying a whopping $30 to risk your life and get your heart pumping faster than it ever has before.
9. Rafting The Grand Canyon, ArizonaMost rivers have rating systems for rapids on an I-V scale, but The Grand Canyon has its own rating system which is on an I-X scale. If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, I don’t know what will. OARS is a top-ranked outfitter that leads trips down the Grand Canyon ranging anywhere from 5 to 17 days. If you’re going to make the commitment to raft the Grand, you might as well go for as long as possible with the best guides around. They don’t call it the GRAND Canyon for nothing. Known as one of the most spectacular wonders of the world, rafting the Grand Canyon is sure to be an unforgettable adventure. There are rapids that would make your head spin like Lava Falls or Crystal and sites that would blow your mind like the first time you see blue color The Little Colorado River and all its beauty or when you get to play in the Redwall Cavern. Throughout your journey, there’s not doubt you will see wildlife including bighorn sheep, deer, coyote and a variety of birds. There are side hikes, slot canyons, caves, waterfalls and climbing that are sure to fuel your adventurous soul. If you have the time, take a much-needed, long vacation, grab your friends or family and raft down The Grand Canyon, with no cell service and no worries. What have we missed? Comment below with the most adrenaline-seeking activity you have done while on vacation!
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAPPLY NOW
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
$155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
$200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
$200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
$695 annual fee.
See Pay Over Time APR
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)