High-Intensity Activity Holidays


The classic summer beach fortnight isn’t for everyone. And even if you do enjoy lounging around next to a pool in a coma, you don’t necessarily want to do it for seven days straight. So here are the best places to go this year if you want to combine relaxation with intense effort. Yes, it’s possible…

Make the world’s greatest park your adventure playground

Activity holidays: Yosemite

It’s probably been quite a few years since you wore yourself out playing at a park, but Yosemite has the ability to make anyone feel like a kid again. You should start your trip by visiting San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento, where you can gorge on culture and locally sourced food ahead of the exertion in the nearby wilderness. This is no Hampstead Heath, after all – it’s double the size of Greater London so the wide variety is no surprise: spend your days rock climbing, biking, hiking, zip-lining or whatever fulfils your sense of adventure. Although it’s open all year round, it’s best to beat the crowds by avoiding the summer months if possible. Prices from Flights from £311 return with Norwegian Air (norwegian.com/uk) yosemiteexperience.com

Train for a triathlon with the family

Activity holidays: France’s Brenne Regional Nature Park

Want some full-on race training while also finding time to lounge in the sun with your family? This all-inclusive resort in France’s Brenne Regional Nature Park offers the help you need to get faster on your feet (you can run on everything from country roads to an athletics track), bike (on very quiet roads) and in the water (both pools with underwater analysis cameras and lakes) while providing the comforts and convenience of a family holiday. They even organise a mini-triathlon for interested youngsters – just don’t be the competitive dad. Prices from £700 per adult, which includes almost all meals but excludes flights, tri-topia.com

Body transformations in Africa

Activity holidays: Body transformation in Zanzibar

Promising “radical results” – either weight loss or muscle gain – and a return to nature in Zanzibar, this is a lot more exotic than a few sessions with your local gym’s personal trainer. You’ll do barefoot running, swing through trees, throw rocks at a target in a gorge and generally burn through a lot of calories. There’s also something described as “wild fighting” which isn’t as primal as it sounds (it’s a sort of non-contact mixture of kick boxing and boxing moves). The food served comes from a similar “natural” philosophy, with an emphasis on what it calls an “evolutionary diet”. Expect local meat and seafood with fresh fruit, vegetables and seeds. Prices from £3,400 per person, which includes food but excludes flights/transfers, wildfitness.com

Cycle a section of the Tour de France

Activity holidays: Alpine Cols Of The Tour De France

Admittedly you could take your bike into central London and you’re technically taking on part of Le Tour but that wouldn’t feel like much of a holiday, would it? But “Alpine Cols Of The Tour De France” is the sort of eight-day adventure you’ll remember for the rest of your life. It starts with one of the highest roads in Europe (Col de la Bonette is 2,802m above sea level) and culminates in the iconic 21 hairpin bends en route to Alpe d’Huez. Although the route is taken from the world’s most famous cycle race, don’t worry about competing against your fellow travellers – esprit d’equipe is the order of the day. Possibly the only time you can get away with wearing a tight white shirt covered in large pink polka dots. Prices from £1,059 per person, which includes flights/transfers and breakfasts, exodus.co.uk

Mountain biking on Inca staircases

Activity holidays: Mountain biking on Inca staircases

You’ve hired a bicycle on holidays before, but not like this – the Inca Avalanche race course is for experienced mountain bikers who crave remote, rugged routes and challenging climbs with like-minded travellers. The “Sacred Singletrack” tour of Peru would be an Instagrammer’s dream if you weren’t cycling too hard to stop and snap. If you collide with a llama while choosing a filter you’ve only got yourself to blame. Prices from £1,275 per person, which includes 65% of meals and transfers but excludes flights, skedaddle.co.uk

“Skyrunning” in the Dolomites

Activity holidays: “Skyrunning” in the Dolomites

Skyrunning is mountain running at a height greater than 2km on an incline of at least 30%. It’s as far from the treadmill as you can get and offers an incredible cardio workout. At Rosa Alpina in the village of San Cassiano near the Austrian border, you’ll run for two hours each morning with the help of an expert guide on this intensive three-day bootcamp, leaving the afternoons free for other activities before dinner and lying exhausted in your mountain cabin. Good job a pair of much-needed massages are included in the package. Prices from £1,500, which includes most meals but excludes flights, rosalpina.it

The Caribbean boot camp

Activity holidays: St Lucia Body Holiday

St Lucia is better known for honeymoons than hardcore exercise, but there’s a lot of variety on this tiny island. As well as the resort’s dedicated trainers, Team GB Olympians such as Keri-Anne Payne, David Carry, Jamie Baulch and Colin Jackson are on hand to help you get in shape depending on when you go. No pressure there, then. After working under the watchful eye of British medallists you’ll want to refuel – there are five restaurants on site, one of which was in a list of the 60 best places to eat in the world. That has to be worth a morning of interval training, surely? Prices from £341 per person per night including food and drink, but excluding flights and transfers, thebodyholiday.com

Florida Keys watersports

Activity holidays: Florida Keys watersports

The Florida Keys are a hotspot for aquatic activities (look at a map, it’s more water than land down there). From the southernmost island in the continental US, Key West, you can go illuminated “nightboarding” on either a stand-up paddleboard (burning 800 calories an hour due to the fact it works pretty much every muscle in your body) or share a two-person, clear-bottomed kayak. You set out at sunset from the Ibis Bay Beach Resort and use special LED lights to not just find your way but also see the local wildlife that call the Keys home. With any luck these sights will distract you from the fact your whole body feels like jelly at the end. Prices from £1,459 per person with Bon Voyage (bon-voyage.co.uk), which has a seven-night road trip to the Florida Keys in September 2016, fla-keys.co.uk