The 15 Best Wellness Destinations That Make Working Out on Vacation Worth It
I'm not sure what your definition of vacation is, but mine typically includes the following: fresh air, cocktails, room service, and turning my phone on Do Not Disturb mode. While my definition tends to fluctuate according to the destination, there is one activity that typically does not make the itinerary: exercise. It's not that I'm opposed to working out on vacation; it's just that I often have a lot more things I'd prefer to do with my precious time off than churning away on the elliptical while my girlfriends are sipping on piña coladas by the pool. Can you blame me?
As of late, however, I've found myself slowly but surely becoming that person. My boyfriend and his family are hotel-gym sort of people, which is basically the label I give to anyone who actually packs sneakers and activewear in their suitcase—and uses them—so it's only natural that their habits have started to wear off on me, too. Besides the fact that it's pretty hard to stay under the covers when the one you're sharing a bed with has already been up and lifting weights before you've even had your morning coffee, it only took a few vacation workouts to realize how good it actually feels to stay active on vacation. The increase in energy and boost in mood made my travels that much more enjoyable, and I only missed out on 30 to 40 minutes of "chill time"—not a bad sacrifice to make, especially considering the benefits.
But I must admit, without someone strongly encouraging I join him at the gym, it's very difficult to find motivation while I'm away from my typical fitness routine. The best way to sneak it in? Find a workout that doesn't feel like you're working out and still gives you the opportunity to explore. From yoga retreats in India to scuba diving in Ecuador, keep scrolling for some of the best active vacations to add to your travel list.
If you're reading this, there's a good chance you're interested in some sort of yoga retreat. There's no better place to experience one than the birthplace of yoga: Rishikesh. Home of numerous ashrams, it's the perfect spot if you're looking for something challenging yet equally spiritual.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
We'd be remiss if we didn't include the Grand Canyon as part of our list. It's home to some of the most famous hiking trails, which can be pretty challenging, so you will definitely be feeling that post-workout bliss.
Skiing as a workout is no joke, and you'll be sure to get your exercise in while visiting Switzerland. Ski, hike, mountain-climb, and more before enjoying a well-deserved après-ski.
Zion National Park, Utah
Red rocks, waterfalls, and picturesque trails can all be found in Zion National Park. It's the ideal location if you want to try a series of hikes and reward yourself with some incredible views.
Glacier National Park, Montana
If you're in need of some great outdoors, add Montana to your list. The Glacier National Park is famous for epic views and giving you the perfect backdrop for hiking, backpacking, and camping.
If you want to follow your own Eat Pray Love path, then Bali is sure to be on your list. While not necessarily the most active destination, visiting the ancient temples and gardens is sure to be the perfect workout for your mind. Unwind, digital-detox, and meditate in this spiritual spot.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Bike or hike in the summertime, or ski and snowboard during the winter—either way, you'll be sure to get a workout in without even realizing it.
Acadia National Park, Maine
One of the top 10 national parks in the United States, Acadia National Park is the ideal location if you want to try your hand at biking or hiking in the great outdoors.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Snorkeling, hiking, swimming, and more are all accessible at the Galapagos Islands, where you'll be sure to see tons of wildlife and get that much-needed breath of fresh air.
Machu Picchu, Peru
This world-famous hike on the Inca Trail will take you straight to breathtaking views of these ancient ruins. Considering how beneficial hiking is as a workout, you'll definitely be feeling this one.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Okay, so this isn't exactly active, but this geothermal spa, with offerings like face masks and in-lagoon massages, is the epitome of wellness. It is one of the 25 wonders of the world for a reason.
Great Wall, China
What better way to get your steps in than hiking the Great Wall of China? It's filled with history, and the views are not to be missed.
I know what you're thinking: Hawaii is a place you go if you're looking for some romance or to relax by the beach with a drink in hand. One of its islands, Oahu, is so much more than that, though. Its Ali`i Beach Park is the perfect spot if you want to try your hand at scuba diving or snorkeling—and afterward, hop over to Turtle Beach to see some of your favorite creatures in its natural habitat.
Icy Strait Point, Alaska
Looking for something a little out of the norm? Outside of the village of Hoonah, Alaska, lies a spot known as Icy Strait Point. Grab a kayak and get the chance to spot wildlife, including killer whales and sea lions, while taking in the views.
Vacationing in Greece may conjure up images of donkey rides and gyros, but it can be an active vacation too if you make it one. One island, in particular, Naxos, is known for having ideal weather for water sports (like windsurfing) and isn't the typical tourist spot like some of the other, more mainstream islands.