Top 10 unusual holidays

It’s always good to break away from the mainstream, and this is exactly what we’re doing with this guide to the top ten unusual holidays – we’re not going to give you just the run of the mill top ten, but instead show you some options that are way off-radar. There are, of course, unusual holidays the world over, but these are just a few of our most quirkilicious. Think camels, canyons and camping on a glacier, and you start to get the picture of what we think can be classified as unusual.

1. Lionfish spearing in Belize

Killing sealife may seem counterintuitive when it comes to marine conservation – but this invasive, non-native species poses one of the greatest threats to reefs up and down the Caribbean. With no natural predators, they have spread rapidly – and donning your scuba gear to spear them underwater is thrilling, educational – and incredibly beneficial.

When to go: September to May
Our top selling trip: Lionfish spearing marine conservation in Belize
See all our trips: Marine conservation holidays
Read more: Lionfish spearing marine conservation and Belize travel guide

2. Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores

The Azores have some of the most abundant dolphin sightings, with seven species commonly seen alongside sperm whales and orcas. This is one of the best places to swim with dolphins too, with expert guides and boat drivers who can monitor the behaviour of each species. Week-long trips offer the chance to build your confidence in the open water and use a snorkel.

When to go: July and August
Our top selling trip: Swimming with wild dolphins in the Azores
See all our trips: Swim with whales and dolphins holidays
Read more: Swimming with whales and wild dolphins and Azores Travel Guide

3. Sea kayaking in Croatia

Say 'archipelago' to any paddler and their eyes light up. With over 1,000 islands along Croatia's coasts, you've a lot to choose from, and kayaking from one to another really is the most blissful way to visit this extraordinary country. Only a handful of islands are populated, and many have green interiors, so each time you come across one it is like finding another Adriatic jewel.

When to go: June to September
Our top selling trip: Sea kayaking holiday in Croatia
See all our trips: Sea kayaking holidays
Read more: Sea kayaking holidays in Croatia and Croatia travel guide

4. Galapagos land based activity holiday

For those who want to explore the wildlife wonders of the Galapagos Islands, but would also like to get off the boat, meet local people and have a few adventures beyond their binoculars, welcome to island idyll. You’ll swim with sea lions, hike to volcanic craters and snorkel among sea turtles.

When to go: December to June
Our top selling trip: Galapagos land based adventure holiday
See all our trips: Galapagos land based holidays
Read more: Galapagos land based travel guide and Galapagos travel guide

5. Petra and Wadi Rum by bike

Avoid the coachloads of tick box tourists in Jordan by arriving in the UNESCO city of Petra by bike. The coaches won’t be going near the olive groves and hilltop villages of the north either, nor into the small desert, nomadic communities further south where, with the help of guides, you will find unmarked goat tracks and farmers’ paths that MTB’ers go mad for.

When to go: February to April
Our top selling trip: Petra and Wadi Rum by bike, Jordan
See all our trips: Cycling holidays in Jordan
Read more: Jordan cycling holidays travel guide and Petra and Wadi Rum travel guide

6. Homestays in Kerala

We offer a variety of homestays, most of them on small working farms. Keralites are generous hosts, who’ll make you feel at home almost instantly and teach you about real Kerala cuisine too, using their own organic ingredients. Don’t be shy and hide behind the comfort blanket of an international hotel. These homes will wrap you in warmth and a genuine welcome.

When to go: September to May
Our top selling trip: Kerala homestay tour, India
See all our trips: Kerala holidays
Read more: Kerala travel guide and India cultural holidays guide

7. Genghis Khan warrior training

Come on, who doesn’t want to be a Mongol warrior? Led by Genghis Khan, the Mongols are the strongest and most stealth military force in history and you can be one, if only for a few days. Try your hand at archery and lassoing, pick up riding skills and learn the secrets behind their battle strategies, all the while dressed in traditional ‘deel’ clothing.

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Ghengis Khan warrior training in Mongolia
See all our trips: Holidays in Mongolia
Read more: Mongolia travel guide and Adventure holidays travel guide

8. Montenegro’s lakes and mountains

The unusual story behind Montenegro is that it's so much more about mountains than beaches. Yes, there are beaches, but in this tiny country, there are 63 peaks reaching heights over 1,800m, all protected by five national parks. And with mountains come waterfalls, wine producers, white water rafting and lakes. Lake Skadar is a 400km² natural playground for kayaking, swimming and wildlife.

When to go: May to September
Our top selling trip: Activity holiday in Montenegro
See all our trips: Montenegro multi activity holidays
Read more: Montenegro multi activity holidays guide and Montenegro travel guide

9. Learn Spanish and love the land

Combined language and activity holidays mean you can make the most of Spain’s language and culture – horse riding, walking the Camino, rock climbing or dancing flamenco – learning the language as you go. Daily classes help you get by with more than just the basics, and learning in situ means you get to talk it all day. Hit the Picos de Europa to really walk the talk.

When to go: year round
Our top selling trip: Spanish course and walking holiday, Picos de Europa
See all our trips: Special interest holidays in Spain
Read more: Spain travel guide and Picos de Europa travel guide

10. Self drive Tasmania

For mainstream do Australia. For unusual, go on a self drive tour of Tasmania. Stay in farmstays, wilderness cabins and convict built cottages to garner all the best tips on where to visit on this bio-wealthy, wilderness island state, but also what wildlife lives in its habitat havens - where wine routes, waterfalls and wallabies are the norm.

When to go: November to March
Our top selling trip: B&B self drive tour of Tasmania
See all our trips: Tasmania holidays
Read more: Tasmania travel guide and Self drive and fly drive travel guide
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Paul Vinten] [1. Lionfish spearing in Belize: Alexander Vasenin] [4. Galapagos land based activity holiday: shalamov] [7. Genghis Khan warrior training : Pioneer Expeditions] [10. Self drive Tasmania: NeilsPhotography]
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