The 27 Best Water Sports to Try Around the World

Written By: The Planet D

Earlier this spring, we asked you, our readers what their favorite water sports were? We needed to know what to do next! Should we go kite surfing or kayaking? Kayaking won out by a narrow margin, and so we went to Croatia for a 10 day sea kayaking trip.

We are looking forward to our next adventure on the water. While thinking of our next water adventure, we came up with a list of our favourite and unique water sports we’ve done around the world.

Water Sports around the World

If you want to add an element of excitement to your future travels, add these thrilling adventures around the world, to have some fun in the water.

1. Kayaking – Antarctica

packing for an antarctica cruise
There are many activities to get ready for on a cruise

We’ve done a lot of kayaking around the world, but nothing quite compares to Antarctica. Kayaking through brash ice while spotting leopard seals, humpback whales, and gentoo penguins was one of the most memorable experiences of our lives.

Paddling in silence through this last frontier on earth allows you to get so close to the wildlife that you can almost reach out and touch them. As you navigate through fields of giant icebergs and ice flows while looking at the magnificent coastline of ancient glaciers, you truly believe that you have found heaven on earth. Read more: 11 of the Best Things to do in Antarctica

2. White Water Rafting Class 5 Rapids – New Zealand

adventure destinations

If you are looking for more of a thrill, try white water rafting on class 5 rapids in New Zealand. The adventure capital of the world boasts some awesome water sports. Expert guides will help you navigate through the big water but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to work.

You have to concentrate and paddle hard to make it through the run. Be prepared to brace yourself and listen to your guide when he yells “get down!” One false move and you’ll be tossed into the icy glacial waters…Just like me! What an amazing watersport. Read more: Things to do in New Zealand

3. Swimming with Whale Sharks – Mexico

side of whale
On the side of the whale shark

It is one of the most magical experiences you’ll ever had. Swimming with Whale Sharks lets you get up close and personal with the world’s biggest fish!

Reaching lengths of forty feet, these graceful giants move quickly and swimming alongside them is exhausting. But it is worth every effort to see their eyes and fins slice effortlessly through the turquoise waters. Read more: Swimming with Whale Sharks Cancun – A Massive Adventure

4. Swimming with Horses – Jamaica

This is definitely one of the most unique things we’ve ever done in the water. Jamaica is famous for the horses that love to swim. Don’t worry, if horses don’t want to swim, they won’t, so they aren’t being forced to do anything. Horses love to cool down in the water and this is a blast to give a try. Read more: Swimming with Horses in Jamaica

5. Kite Surfing – Maui


Kite surfing is one of the coolest water sports in the world and a great way to add adventure to your travels. We learned to kite surf in Maui and it was so much fun. There’s great kite surfing around the world, and if you master it, you’ll be able to go kite surfing anywhere during your travels. Read more: 26 Best Things to do in Maui

6. Self Drive Zodiac Adventure – Alaska

alaska zodiac adventure | water sports

Ketchikan is the place to spot humpback whales in Alaska and is home to a mass of bald eagles. What better way to see these fascinating creatures up close and personal than piloting your very own zodiac? Read more: The Best Places to Visit in Alaska

Zip through the bay in the driver seat and follow your Alaskan guide along the rugged coast where you’ll view salmon farms, and totem poles and experience life as a true pioneer when you stop for an outdoor cookout to roast marshmallows on an open flame.

7. Canyoning in Jordan

canyong in jordan | water sports around the world

Imagine rappelling down a 30-meter waterfall and sliding down giant boulders in the middle of a rushing river. Now that’s a watersport. That’s what canyoning in Jordan is all about.

Take a break from relaxing in the Dead Sea and make your way over to Wadi Mujib to hike through an incredible canyon system. Take a waterproof camera because this trek is all about getting wet.

You stumble through the river climbing over rocks, floating in the current, and yes, navigating waterfalls. Read more at An Eco Adventure Thrill Ride

8. Kayaking with Beluga Whales – Canada

stuff to do in canada | kayak with beluga whales

Most people visit Churchill Manitoba to see polar bears, but there is an amazing water adventure to be had. Get on a kayak and go out to the harbour where thousands of cute beluga whales migrate through the area. They are playful and curious and will come right up to your boat to say hello. Read more: Kayaking with Beluga Whales in Churchill

9. Whitewater Kayaking – Canada

whitewater kayaking rolls wet exits rapids

Learning to whitewater kayak is the coolest watersport to be able to brag about. Oh Yeah, we’ve run rapids in a kayak and have mastered the roll!

Learning on the Madawaska River in Canada is one of the best places in the world, it is where our Canadian kayak team trains and we conquered that course.

10. Helmet Walk – Australia

things to do in australia helmet dive great barrier reef

Sure scuba diving is one of the best watersports you can choose to do, but one of the quirkiest and most unique is to put on a helmet and walk in the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t worry, no corral was harmed during our helmet walk, we kept to the sand and cage while enjoying our time under the sea. Read more: 18 Great Things to do in Queensland, Australia

11. Great White Shark Cage Diving – South Africa

adventures around the world great whites
Deb coming up from cage diving

One of the most incredible underwater experiences we’ve ever had was cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa. Seeing the oceans top predator helps to spread the word that sharks are magnificent creatures and conservation is needed to save them. Every time they swam by the cage was a thrill of a lifetime. Read more: Best Things to do in South Africa in 2021

12. Cage Diving with Great Whites in South Australia

cage diving great white sharks Dave plays guitar under water
Dave practices his air guitar

We took another cave diving adventure in South Australia and it was a completely different expeirence. In South Africa they chum the water with fish guts to attract the sharks (Boat do go out to their regular feeding ground so as not to disrupt to food chain) but in Australia, they attracted the sharks with sound. As the tunes blasted from the boat, we played air guitar while waiting for the sharks to come and say hello! Read more: South Australia Photos – Journey Through its Varied Landscape

13. America’s Cup Yachting – New Zealand

water sports america's cup

Haven’t you always wanted to try your hand at sailing a multi million dollar yacht? It’s so romantic! Well, in New Zealand you can book a tour on a genuine America’s Cup yacht that actually won the event a few years back! You get to try every aspect of it. But be warned, it’s hard work! Read more: 46 Top Things to do in New Zealand

14. Surfing in Sri Lanka

surfing sri lanka | water sports around the world

If you want to try your hand at surfing but are afraid of the giant waves, Sri Lanka is the place to go. With perfect conditions for beginners and excellent waves for expert rodeo competitors, surfing in Sri Lanka was one of our favourite activities.

You can spend days hanging out on the beaches of Hikkaduwa as local guides are on hand to teach you their tricks. Unlike other areas where we’ve attempted to balance on the board, we actually managed to catch a wave or two and with a mellow break and sandy beach we had very few cuts and bruises to show for it. Read more: 21 of the Very Best Things to do in Sri Lanka

15. Outrigger Canoe – Hawaii

paddling an outrigger canoe

It’s canoeing with a twist. Get a cultural experience while you work up an appetite in Hawaii. Learn how the ancient Polynesians navigated the stars while learning how to paddle this unique ocean canoe. It’s certainly one of the most unique watersports to try in the united states. Read more: 26 Best Things to do in Maui

16. Taking the Polar and Polar Bear Plunge

dave swimming polar plunge antarctica
The Polar Plunge: Dave looks cold

Whether it’s in Antarctica or the Arctic, jumping into freezing waters offers the ultimate in bragging rights. We know we’ve done the polar plunge in both ends of the earth. It’s hard to compete with someone that has willingly jumped into sub zero waters. (note salt water’s freezing temperature is -2 degrees Celsius. See our experience What it’s Like to Take the Polar Plunge in Antarctica

17. Canoe Safari in Canada

Adventures Canada Canoe Algonquin Park to See Moose
Canoe Algonquin Park

There are canoe routes all over Canada but our favourite place to portage is in Algonquin Park, Ontario. It can be a challenge navigating through this great Canadian Wilderness, but it is worth every effort as you are nearly guaranteed to encounter a moose.

A trip can be as long or as short as you like with 1200 km of streams and rivers connecting 2400 lakes it’s the perfect adventure for the outdoor enthusiast. Campsites are scattered throughout its 7653 square kilometers where you can truly get away from it all while taking in its incredible beauty. Read: 25 Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada

Algonquin Park’s landscape is so stunning that the famous artists known as the Group of Seven dedicated their lives to painting its magnificent landscape. Read more: Things to do in Haliburton – A Four Seasons Ontario Escape

18. Parasailing – Key West

parasailing key west

It’s the ultimate couch potato water sport. Just strap on a parachute, and let the captain propel you out to sea. Parasailing is a lot more fun than we thought it would be. We gave it a shot on our trip to Key West and what a way to see the Florida Keys from above. Give it a try and check out the beach from the sky. Read: Best Stops on a Florida Keys Road Trip Itinerary

19. Explore Cenotes – Mexico’s Underground Rivers

cancun trips cancun
Deb loves Rio Secreto

Nothing compares to swimming in an underground cave in Mexico. Cenotes are extraordinary underwater systems that are continuously being discovered. When visiting the Yucatan Peninsula, you can swim in a cenote, snorkel in them, rappel into a cenote and even cliff dive into them. Don’t miss visiting them when you go to Cancun or Playa Del Carmen. Read more: Rio Secreto Cenote – Mexico’s Magical Underground Caves

20. Cliff Jumping – New Zealand

whitewater rafting trip new zealand cliff jump

If you want to try cliff jumping, give it a go on a whitewater rafting trip. They make you wear your life jackets, so you know you’ll be able to pop up no problem. Cliff jumping is awesome, and landing in that freezing glacier water will take your breath away (in more ways than one)

21. Swimming with Dolphins – Australia

scuba and snorkelling wildlife
Swimming with Dolphins in South Australia

After cage diving with great white sharks in South Australia, we hopped in the water the next day to swim with dolphins. It was a little unnerving to know that we were in the water where great whites hang out. Our guide even wore a shark repellent device on his ankle. But apparently, when dolphins are around, the sharks are away and it was the best dolphin encounter we’ve ever had! Swim with Dolphins – South Australia

22. Snorkeling in The Galapagos

Nothing quite compares to snorkelling with wildlife in the Galapagos. Swimming with sharks, playing with sea lions, spotting sea turtles and witnessing marine iguanas feed are just some of the things you will see while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. Read more: Unique Galapagos Islands Animals in Photos

Known as one of the great wildlife spotting places on earth, the Galapagos Islands are even better underwater. The sea lions are thrilled to have someone to play with and the turtles lumber along while barely noticing you are there. With a rich ecosystem, the marine life is healthy and strong and there is no shortage of food. So you don’t have to worry about getting in the water with the Galapagos Shark, they won’t pay you any attention.

23. SUP – Costa Rica

stand up paddle board maui boards

Stand up Paddle Boarding is excellent everywhere in the world and we do it every chance we get. But getting in the turquoise waters of Costa Rica was special. The calm waters of secluded islands made for the perfect spot to paddle and explore. Check out: What to Expect on a Panama Canal Cruise with Uncruise

24. Jet Boating – Iguazu Falls

iguazu falls jet boat tour
jet boat tour iguazu falls

Jet boating is a thrill anywhere, but getting into a jet boat and going under one of the world’s largest waterfalls is an absolute thrill. Iguazu Falls in Brazil has the most adrenaline pumping jet boat adventures we’ve ever been on. Read more: Getting Soaked – The Ultimate Iguazu Falls Tour

25. Niagara Jet Boat

water sports jet boating

But the Niagara Jet Boat Tour is a close second. It takes you into the unnavigable class 6 rapids of the Niagara River, just down from Niagara Falls will get your heart pumping. It’s a bit terrifying to think that if the motors fail, you’ll be sucked into the whirlpool never to be seen again.

26. Exploring the Hongs of Thailand

sea kayaking thailand watersports around the world

The incredible karst formations of Southern Thailand are even more awe inspiring when you can explore them by sea kayak. Enter one of the sea caves and paddle through a hidden tunnel to the heart of one of these islands on the Andaman Sea.

When you emerge from the dark, you’ll find yourself inside a lagoon surrounded by high cliffs and lush jungle. A nighttime paddle is a must as you enter the caves at low tide and witness the phosphorescence algae ignite with every stroke of the paddle. Read more: Best Things to do in Krabi, Thailand

27. Felucca on the Nile in Egypt

felucca egypt

The mystical Nile River is a place of legend and nothing feels more timeless than hiring a Felucca to take you down this historic passage.

As you pass by ancient wonders, you’ll be able to try your hand at steering the boat. That is if you hire your own private Felucca Tour from Aswan.  Be prepared though, if the wind dies on one of these, you’ll be helping the captain row back to the dock.

If a larger cruise line is more your style, hop aboard a luxury liner to take you from one city to another and pretend to be the Queen of Sheba herself! Read more: 20 Exciting Things to do in Egypt – Plus A Few Fun Facts

And these are our favorite water sports and water adventures around the world.

What should we try next?

Read Next:

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Allianz - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

8 thoughts on “The 27 Best Water Sports to Try Around the World”

  1. Surfing in Sri Lanka – that sounds like another item to add to my bucket list. Been planning to visit Sri Lanka for some time now, and this is just one more reason. Will check your other Sri Lanka posts before going on that trip for sure 🙂

  2. I loved all the pictures and adventures you shared here. Of them, exploring the Hongs of Thailand and cruising the Nile are calling me. But those dang Moose are just too cute!

    • Aren’t they though:) We realized afterwards that moose can be quite dangerous in the water, especially when they are with their babies. We drifted a little close, but she didnt’ seem to mind our company. I wouldn’t recommend doing it again though.

  3. Kayaking in Antarctica is one of my dream trips. I loved your posts from there and didn’t want them to end!

  4. All these water sports adventures sound awesome and very unique. Thailand is on our route for our 2 year backpacking trip so I’ll have to look into kayaking there.