News 10 of the best once-in-a-lifetime holiday experiences

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10 of the best once-in-a-lifetime holiday experiences

Go canyoneering, become a cowboy or survive in the wild – the memories of these awesome experiences will last longer than any suntan…

1. Get your scuba diving qualification in Mexico – fly from £365

There’s nothing more tempting than exploring the mysterious deep blue sea and while that annoying human flaw of needing oxygen may get in the way, with a tank strapped to your back, you’re good to go. Take the two-day Dune Mexico Blue Dreams course in Playa del Carmen for a masterclass in scuba diving. You’ll complete three pool dives and two boat dives for around £210. Plus, you’ll come home with an internationally approved PADI scuba-dive certificate so you can dive again anywhere in the world.

Stay: Grand Fifty Suites, rooms start at £59 a night.

Fly to Cancun from £365

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2. Go canyoneering in the Philippines – fly from £301

Put simply, canyoneering is just ‘moving through a canyon’. Sounds a bit tame right? But you won’t be walking – don’t be silly – you’ll be climbing, hiking, abseiling and maybe swimming too. Canyoneering is not for the faint hearted but it is doable and not to mention great fun with an experienced guide. Kawasan Canyoneering in the Philippines offers a cliff jumping and water slides adventure where you’ll be sliding down natural water slides, floating down the Kanlaob River and climbing, scrambling and jumping off cliffs to get to the next jump. The 5km route finishes at Kawasan Falls, a.k.a the bluest, most tropical paradise you’ve ever seen.

Stay: Moalboal T Breeze Coastal Resort, rooms start from £30.

Fly to Cebu from £301

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3. Be a real-life cowboy (or girl) in Colorado, USA – fly from £287

Book a spot at the Colorado Cattle Company & Guest Ranch, don your finest Stetson, grab your checked shirt and brush off your cowboy boots for a full Wild Wild West experience. You’ll get the chance to round up the animals on the daily Cattle Walk, work on your riding technique and even practise some new-found skills in Cowboy School. Four days of ranch life starts from around £1,100 and includes your accommodation, meals and riding activities – it may be a little pricier than your normal getaway but how many people can say they’re a trained cowboy? You’ll be the talk of the ranch.

Stay: MainStay Suits in Denver before driving to the Ranch, rooms start at £102.

Fly to Denver from £287

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4. Go white water rafting in Costa Rica – fly from £464

Why walk through a rainforest when you can travel by the most exhilarating mode of transport on the water – a raft? A one-day trip with Rios Tropicales takes you 19 miles downstream on the Pacuare River into the heart of the rainforest, past cascading waterfalls and through some strong rapids – so hold on tight. Prices start from around £100 and include transfers from San José plus lunch and changing facilities. It’s worth noting the rapids are stronger (and therefore more fun, if a little hairier) from June-November during Cost Rica’s wet season.

Stay: Hotel Posada del Museo, rooms start from £35

Fly to San José from £464

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5. Relax with a yoga retreat in India – fly from £298

Photo credit: Getty

Your local Sunday morning yoga class has got a little competition with this yoga retreat. Situated in the Assagao Valley, you’ll be perfecting your downward dog and your humble warrior surrounded by tropical gardens. Each morning begins with a walk to the shala (Sanskrit for yoga school) with morning and afternoon yoga classes dotted throughout the two-week retreat. The vegetarian menu is prepared daily with local ingredients from the market so you’ll come home with a healthy mind and body. Two-week courses start at £1,150 or the one-week option is £850.

Stay: If you go for the non-residential option, stay at the nearby Assagao in Goa at Amour Resort, where rooms are from £30 a night.

Fly to Goa from £298

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6. Sail the Bay of Islands in New Zealand – fly from £449

Photo credit: Great Escapes

Throw yourself into learning a new skill with Great Escapes. They offer a six-day sailing adventure in the Bay of Islands. You’ll start off with a skipper on board teaching you the way of the seas, then three days later you’ll be left to your own devices to sail to your heart’s content. It’ll cost NZ$890 – that’s less than £500 per person to get your captain’s hat and your sea legs. The smaller boats available are ideal for a couple or small family.

Stay: on dry land before you set sail at Russell-Orongo Bay Holiday Park, rooms start from £38.

Fly to Auckland from £449

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7. Learn wilderness survival in Botswana – fly from £656

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For a truly wild experience that trumps any safari, learn how to survive in the African Bush on a week-long survival course. You’ll gain skills in navigating your way around the famous Okavango Delta, how to track animals and identify local floral and fauna too. Be ready to listen and learn as there are theory lectures alongside practical exertions. Your reward? You’ll be tracking wild animals by day and stargazing by night. But keep your wits about you – this private nature reserve is free from fences or walls so you’ll be sharing your holiday with the lions, cheetahs, elephants and hippos too. Prices with Natucate start from £1,600 and include activities, theory, meals, camping accommodation and priceless life-saving wilderness skills.

Stay: Adansonia Hotel Maun, prices start at £58 a night.

Fly to Maun, Botswana from £656

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8. Learn to fly in Florida, USA – fly from £261

Photo credit: Ashley Satanosky on Unsplash

You won’t be able to fly yourself home… but you can get your private pilot’s licence in a mere three weeks with Sun State Aviation. You’ll be able to fly two to three times a day with ground-based lessons between your flights – so grab your trusty aviator jacket and those Top-Gun-worthy sunglasses you’ve been hiding and be prepared to work hard. Prices vary depending on how quickly you pick up new skills and the equipment (that’s what the pros call the planes) you use. UK citizens require security clearance to fly in US airspace, but simply apply online after you’ve received your student number from Sun State Aviation.

Stay: Champions World Resort in Kissimmee, rooms from £38.

Fly to Orlando from £261

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9. Become a mixologist in London

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Shake, stir and mix your way through the two-day course at the European Bartender School and your homemade cocktails will be good enough for 007 himself. You’ll learn about the golden age of cocktails, create your own syrups and cordials and find a modern-day twist on the classic cocktails. Prices start at £285 and you’ll get specialist instructors, professional equipment and the lifetime skill of crafting cocktails. Dinner party anyone?

Stay: Lord Jim Hotel London Kensington, rooms start from £59

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10. Free-dive in the Red Sea, Egypt – fly from £251

Photo credit: Getty

Free-diving requires patience, relaxation and determination – you’ll be 10-20 metres underwater and holding your breath after all. Dahab is world-renowned for its submarine sinkhole Blue Hole – at 130 metre deep and surrounded by coral reef and tropical fish, it’s tranquil and well, very, very deep. You won’t make it anywhere near the bottom but once you’ve perfected your technique across the two-day Level 1 course, you’ll be able to hold your breath for 2-3 minutes. It’s almost like you’re a real-life mermaid. Almost.

Stay: 4S Hotel Dahab, prices start at £25.

Fly to Sharm El Sheikh from £251

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Are you ready to book your once-in-a-lifetime adventure?


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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 25 March 2019.