Make 2019 the year you learn a new skill or master a new sport in a gorgeous landscape. My top nine best active trips to book in 2019 are all the inspiration you’ll need to go hiking in high mountains, learn to longboard, get back to nature and much more.
Nine of the best active trips to plan for 2019
1. Go longboarding, Cornwall
Longboarding is surfing’s laid back, creative little sister, practiced, as the name suggests, on longer boards than surf boards, usually measuring over nine foot. Surf Sistas organise female-only weekend courses near Newquay in Cornwall where you’ll earn to cross-step, nose ride and dance along the waves in the company of rad women, then go exploring the most beautiful coastline in Britain.
Go do it: Surf Sistas’ longboarding weekends cost £150 per person.
2. Go sailing, Greek islands
Sail away to the balmy waters of the Ionion islands, one of the most paradisaical places on earth, and learn a new skill as you explore the archipelago. Sailing Holidays offer week-long courses that are perfect for beginners – you’ll get to skipper your own boat with a little help from their team of instructors, explore the islands of Lefkas, Paxos and Ithaka by day and moor up in secret island coves at night.
Go do it: Sailing Holidays offer a week of Greek island hopping from £495.
3. Go surfing, Canada
Forget tropical climates – surf the wild, cold waters of the Pacific on a pine-lined beach on Vancouver Island, Canada’s surf mecca. The best spot is Tofino, where you can catch waves in the morning and warm up by a fire in a log cabin afterwards. Tofino’s waves are perfect for beginner and intermediate surfers – try a session at chilled Chesterman beach, or come in October to watch female pros compete in Queen of the Peaks. Just keep an eye out for whales far out to sea and curious black bears watching from the woods.
Go do it: Tourism Tofino list surf schools, rental shops and the best beaches.
4. Go cycle touring, Italy
Italy’s glorious combination of lush scenery, bright sunny skies and hefty plates of pasta make it my dream cycling destination. Get a slice of the bella vita on two wheels on a self-guided adventure with Freedom Treks – you could follow their route from Florence to Rome, map your way around beautiful Sicily or stop off for a glass or two of wine in the Tuscan hills.
Go do it: Freedom Treks’ self-guided cycle tours start from £318 per week.
5. Go hiking self supported, Iceland
On the bizarrely beautiful island of Iceland, home to black sand beaches, glittering glaciers and fermented shark for tea, the Laugavegur trail stands out as a feast for the eyes. This 34 mile-long route begins in Landmannalaugar, a geothermal rainbow-coloured wonderland of a valley where the mountains are striped in obsidian and rhyolite in every hue you could imagine. Hike towards the south, staying in remote mountain cabins, and you’ll end up in Thorsmork, a green valley named for the Norse god of thunder and capped by the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.
Go do it: Extreme Iceland offer a six-day guided hike of the Laugavegur trail for £1,327, perfect if you want to gain confidence as a self-supported hiker.
6. Go on a bushcraft course, Dorset
Leave computer screens and social media alerts far behind and escape into the woodlands of Dorset. Fore Adventure will teach you to lay and light fires, to use knives and saws properly and to go foraging for your supper. Their half day and full day courses are ideal if you’re short on time but want to learn practical outdoor skills, get your hands dirty and breath in a bit of fresh air.
Go do it: A half day bushcraft course with Fore Adventure costs £50 per person.
7. Go skiing, France
In the words of Rachel from Friends, ‘shoop, shoop, shoop!’. Skiing is one of the most exciting ways I know to explore the mountains in winter. It can be an intimating sport to learn as an adult, but it’s so rewarding once you’ve got the basics down. Meribel in the French Alps is the perfect place to pick for your first ski holiday. It boasts a beautiful traditional town centre and a great ski school, and you can explore the Three Valleys ski area when you progress. Oh, and they do a fine line in fondue…
Go do it: If you feel like going fancy, Purple Ski offer gorgeous luxury chalets in Meribel to base yourself in whilst you learn to hit the pistes.
8. Go trekking, Himalayas
The Himalayas is home to the most breathtaking treks of my life – quite literally, as the altitude in the mountains is no joke. This mountain range spans some of the most exciting countries on earth, including Nepal and Tibet, although I have a soft spot for Indian Himalayas, where the fascinating city of Leh makes the perfect base for trekking the wild and empty mountain valleys in Ladakh.
Go do it: World Expeditions offer treks to Everest Base Camp, Annapurna, Llasa in Tibet and around Ladakh.
9. Go diving, Japan
Travelling in Japan conjures up cherry blossom, gorgeous volcanic landscapes, hot springs and amazing fresh food, but you might not think of it as a diving destination. If you love exploring beneath the waves, however, Japan has the perfect paradisical place for you. Head to the southern Okinawa islands, 160 subtropical beauties where green turtles, sea horses and reef sharks swim in the clear waters. There are plenty of dive centres and schools where you can learn to scuba and explore the reefs.
Go do it: Japan Specialist list the best Japanese islands for diving and Aloha Divers offer diving and snorkelling in Okinawa.