One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is how to spend time that is most fulfilling for me. Many of us, myself included, have had some challenging past few years, and maybe didn’t give ourselves enough time to have fun and see what truly brings us joy. This year, that is my priority. So… what do you say, will you join me?
I love spending time outdoors, enjoying the beauty and awe of nature. The following are 22 outdoor hobbies that I want to challenge myself to try in the coming years (if I haven’t already). There is something in here for everyone whether you are feeling very adventurous or not so much. One of the best parts is that many of these hobbies you can try on Nat Hab trips!
One of the best things about photography is that truly anyone can do it! There are many skill levels with this hobby but to get started, all you need is a camera, which often, can be your phone camera. Photography is great because there are a ton of resources online to help improve your skills by adjusting your settings, angles, lighting, etc. There are lots of niche areas of photography that you can try out too like nature, travel, wildlife, people, food, and the list goes on.
Try your hand at photography by going on a Natural Habitat Adventures Photo Adventure trip in Greenland, the Galapagos, Botswana, Mexico, and more.
This is a common hobby that allows for plenty of variation and exploration! It requires very little specialized gear, only good quality boots and perhaps a trekking pole if desired. No matter where you live, there are opportunities for hiking within a short drive. Hiking can be through the forest, mountains, woods, or even on the beach. You can also challenge yourself by doing harder or longer hikes, and hiking to unique sites like waterfalls, lakes, caves, or even remote communities.
You’re in luck because almost every Natural Habitat Adventures trip features hiking. You truly can’t go wrong with this because you will experience a variety of terrain and see a plethora of landscapes while hiking on a trip.
Spelunking, commonly referred to as caving is a hobby that requires advanced skill. It’s an activity that is riskier than many other outdoor sports because it requires you to enter caves and explore very dark tight spaces. If you are someone who loves exploring geology and geology, this would be a great hobby for you to try, as caving reveals many artifacts of how our world came to be.
This activity requires specialized equipment like ropes, headlamps, kneepads, gloves, and more. It is safe to say that you will be covered in mud by the time you exit the cave. Luckily, there are plenty of caves around the world that don’t have as many tight spaces so those who are claustrophobic can also enjoy this activity.
4. White water rafting
This is an activity for those who love a thrill! White water rafting is rafting through rivers with varying degrees of rough water. It is something you would do with a small group of others on the same raft, as you simultaneously paddle through and navigate the river. This hobby requires some specialized equipment and should always be done by a professional, for safety to be the top priority.
This activity caters to various skill and “thrill” levels. Each whitewater river is classified by how difficult the rapids are to manage, with these levels ranging from level one to level six.
5. Skiing & snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular winter sports here in the United States. They can give you an adrenaline rush yet keep you calm as you weave through snow-covered trails. It is an activity that requires special equipment like skis, a snowboard, poles, helmets, goggles, and lots of warm layers. This hobby can vary based on your skill level and how much you’d like to challenge yourself.
Read about a WWF staff member’s life-changing snowboarding experience in the alps, “An accident changes a writer’s relationship with the mountains she loves” in the WWF 2021 winter magazine.
This sport is the practice of using a bow to shoot arrows at a target. It is known to be one of the oldest sports in the world, dating back to 2340BC when the Babylonians used bows and arrows for combat. It requires precision and accuracy, which comes with immense concentration.
Join the Natural Habitat Adventures Wild & Ancient Himalaya: Nepal & Bhutan trip to experience a traditional archery lesson with a Bhutanese community.
Have you always wondered what underwater life was like? Snorkeling may just be the perfect hobby for you! With this activity, you’ll be able to see sea creatures right in front of you and experience the pristine water that many underwater animals get to call home. Similar to other activities mentioned, you’ll need specialized gear (mask, snorkel, fins, etc.) and to have a trained guide to show you the ropes.
Experience snorkeling on Natural Habitat Adventures’ Swimming with Mexico’s Whale Sharks trip.
This has been one of my favorite things I’ve ever tried and have been yearning to do it again! I sandboarded a couple of years ago when I was in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, and absolutely loved it.
Sandboarding is essentially just snowboarding but in the sand, rather than snow. If you’re a warm-weather person like me, this is a perfect hobby to try out. You don’t need to have any skills to give this hobby a whirl because thankfully, sand is soft and a very forgivable place to fall if needed.
Sailing is an activity where you are on a boat and navigate the open waters using the wind. Most boats have engines or require you to paddle but sailing is unique because it is very weather dependent, and unlike most other outdoor activities, you want to do this hobby on a windier day. Although it shouldn’t be too windy because it can be quite dangerous with aggressive waters and a chance of your sails tearing.
Check out sailing for yourself on the Natural Habitat Adventures Sailing Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Nature Expedition trip.
Kayaking is an activity that allows you to sit just a foot or so above the water. It is something that many people find relaxing as you can paddle around at your own pace on a body of water of your choosing. You can even lean into chaotic waters, similar to those of whitewater rafting if you are seeking out a boost of adrenaline.
Kayaking requires some specialized gear, like a kayak, paddles, and safety equipment. However, kayaking is a water activity that is quite easy to get started with as many parks and recreation centers have kayaks for rent and courses to learn the ins and outs of this hobby.
Try kayaking out on the Natural Habitat Adventures Paddling Portugal’s River of Wine trip.
11. Rock climbing
This activity allows you to scale mountains and rock formations of all kinds. Rock climbing is a hobby done by people of all ages. Oftentimes, you will find gyms specific to rock climbing with artificial rock walls so that people can practice before putting their skills to the test outdoors.
This activity requires some special safety gear like a rope, harness, belay device, climbing shoes, helmet, and chalk. Rock climbing is a challenge-by-choice activity where you can push yourself the whole way up the mountain or as far as you feel comfortable going.
12. Horseback riding
Horseback riding is a hobby that can either be competitive or laidback. If you’re engaging with it for fun, you’ll be able to explore miles of trails by horseback regardless of your location. This is something that is best to engage in when traveling or in your local community where there are horseback riding experiences or training courses for you to take part in.
Do you and your family want to go on a horseback riding excursion together? Natural Habitat Adventures curates the perfect trip suitable for your family with the Custom Family Costa Rica Adventure, where you have the opportunity to ride horses through the Costa Rican jungle.
Geocaching is a unique hobby that will surely excite those who love a good treasure hunt. This activity uses GPS signals to help you locate small treasures that past geocachers have left. This is a great hobby for those who already love hiking and exploring the outdoors and want to reignite some of their child-like curiosity by navigating clues and discovering hidden gems!
This hobby is one for those who are up for a challenge. Surfing is a sport that takes a lot of skill to get good at but something that just about everyone can try out. If you plan to travel to a coastal area, it is likely there will be surfing lessons that you can participate in to see if surfing is right for you.
In my opinion, the best part about surfing is the serenity that comes with it. It is so peaceful going to the beach in the early hours of the morning before anyone else is up to enjoy the calm waves as the sun is beginning to rise.
Paddleboarding is a less intense water sport than surfing, yet equally as enjoyable. This activity might be appealing to those who would like to get out on the water, test their balance with yoga on the board, or simply relax and enjoy the beautiful sights around. Paddleboarding requires little equipment. You’ll only need the paddle board and some paddles to get started. It is also recommended you have a safety vest and are a confident swimmer, as it is not unlikely for paddle boarders to fall off their boards.
This action-packed activity is not your average everyday hobby. Ziplining is often an experience that you’re able to take part in when you’re traveling or otherwise live somewhere that is a destination. With ziplining, you’re harnessed onto a cable that pulls you through a jungle, the mountains, or any other beautiful location. It is safe to do when you’re with trained guides and have proper safety equipment like helmets, gloves, and of course, a harness to keep you strapped in.
On the Natural Habitat Adventures Natural Jewels of Costa Rica trip, you’d have the opportunity to zipline through the canopy if you’re feeling adventurous.
Yoga is a restorative yet physically challenging hobby. This activity can be done inside or outside, rain or shine, solo or in a group, and in a variety of factors. One of my personal favorite hobbies is practicing yoga in nature. There is an immense feeling of peace when engaging in sun salutations while the sun is rising right in front of you. Yoga requires little equipment making it accessible for anyone to get started with this hobby.
Similar to hiking, birdwatching is a hobby that can be done anywhere, as long as birds are nearby. It is very versatile and is vastly different wherever you go from looking at tropical birds to those residing in the arctic. Fun fact: you can even enter competitions for birdwatching to see how many birds you can find and correctly identify and compete with others across the world! It’s a hobby that requires little to no equipment. The one thing that might be especially helpful is a pair of binoculars so that you can zoom in closer to the bird species.
Want to learn more about birdwatching? Take a peek at this Daily Dose of Nature webinar, Birding: The Basics and Beyond, hosted by Natural Habitat Adventures Expedition Leader Mike Hillman.
Do you have a green thumb? Are you someone that collects house plants or enjoys eating fresh fruit and vegetables? Gardening is a hobby that gives back in the sense that after you put in the work of giving it a stable home to grow, you get nourished by being able to eat it! Gardens can come in many shapes and sizes and is highly customizable based on what produce you enjoy growing and eating most.
Learn more about how to get started with a garden of your own by reading “Want to give local wildlife a boost? Try planting a native garden” in the WWF 2020 summer magazine.
There are so many different types of fishing, you are bound to find one that fits you! Fishing can be as simple as sitting by a pond with your fishing rod hanging over the edge, waiting for a bite. Or if you’re a thrill-seeker, you may want to take yourself out on a boat in the middle of the ocean to try our deep-sea fishing. You even can fish while paddleboarding!
Take a peek at the blog, Seasoned Travelers Fulfill Dreams of Seeing Alaska’s Fishing Grizzlies, from fellow Nat Hab travelers to recount the fishing they witnessed while they were on the Wild Alaska Grizzly Encounter trip!
This hobby is perfect for winter-weather people who love hiking! Essentially, you are just hiking through the snow but with specialized gear, called snowshoes. Snowshoes are flat shoes that clip onto your winter boots which allow you to walk easier in deep areas of snow. Hiking poles are highly recommended for this activity to help keep you upright and tread through the snow more efficiently. Since this hobby doesn’t require as much specialized equipment as snow sports, like skiing or snowboarding, it is more cost-effective and doesn’t limit your range of where to participate.
For an added challenge, you can even try running in your snowshoes. This challenge might not be right for beginners but if you don’t mind falling in a plush pillow of snow, give it a try!
I may have just saved the best for last but personally stargazing is one of my favorite pastimes. No matter if I’m in my backyard or traveling somewhere new, this is a must if there’s little to no light pollution. The stars look vastly different depending on the time of year and the location you’re in, making it an incredible stargazing experience and being able to identify various constellations.
For a once in a lifetime stargazing experience, check out the Natural Habitat Adventures Northern Lights & Arctic Exploration trip to see the Northern Lights and the stars – all in one!