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5 Epic Boat Trips to Embark on in 2024

If you’re planning your travels this year, what about taking to the water for an epic boat trip somewhere along the way? You could choose to spend a week or two floating along a river or sea, strolling the decks and sleeping in a cabin at night, or go for an epic day trip where the wind or the paddle of your canoe might power you along past some epic scenery. We love everything from kayaking in a fjord at sunrise to sailing between islands and sleeping under the stars. We’ve picked some of our favorite boat trips to inspire your 2024 adventures.

Sailing the Sparkling Seas

If you like the idea of hoisting the sails and taking to the ocean waves on a yacht, but haven’t won the lottery, a sailing trip with G Adventures could be the next best thing. The adventure company runs sailing trips on yachts around the world, with bases in Greece, the Canary Islands, Croatia, and Sri Lanka. For its Thailand sailing trip, you’ll be on board an 82-foot sailing catamaran (with two hulls) which will take you island-hopping in the beautiful sparkling waters of the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand.

On a seven-day trip, which starts and ends in Phuket, you can float between islands, relax with swimming and snorkeling or go exploring in the dinghy, with island hikes or the chance to soak up white-sand beaches. On board the catamaran, there’s plenty of space on deck to relax, or you can help the skipper and crew with duties like hoisting and lowering the sails. At night you’ll stop to tuck into some Thai cuisine before anchoring under the stars.

Fjord Escort in New Zealand

The only way to see the magnificent fjord at Milford Sound in the southwest of New Zealand is from the water, where you can take in the amazing scenery of the 3,900-foot-high cliffs along the fjord, and the mountains with their icy peaks often reflected in the clear blue water. There are many options in the Sound for day and overnight cruises, and staying on a boat overnight in the fjord lets you see it when darkness falls and the day trippers leave.

A trip with Rosco’s Milford Kayaks will take you right down onto the water for a paddling adventure in a sea kayak, where you can take in the full power of the landscape and perhaps see some of the fjord’s wildlife. The kayak trips range from a distance of 5 km (with 1.5-2 hours of paddling) up to 18 km (with 3.5-4 hours of paddling), with options like taking in a sunrise on the fjord, or paddling near Stirling Falls to enjoy it from the water.

Adventure on the Danube

Boat in distance
Image by Frames For Your Heart

If you like the idea of taking a luxurious river trip through Europe, but are not sure you want to spend every day lazing in a deck chair watching the scenery going past, what about taking a river cruise that is designed for the adventure-minded? Avalon Waterways designs river cruises that mix a range of activities for all levels of fitness with some traditional sightseeing, so you might be doing anything from a cooking workshop, wine tasting, or painting class one day, to exploring an ice cave or taking an archery lesson the next.

During an eight-day trip along the River Danube, you can take in adventures and sightseeing in three countries (Hungary, Austria and Germany), with activities like hikes to Count Dracula’s prison tower, guided bicycle tours of Vienna, guided bike and canoe tours through wine country along the Danube, and a hike along the famous Schlögen Oxbow river bend. On board, the ships have their own fitness centers plus an adventure center and adventure host, who will help arrange the bikes, active gear and help you plan things like other excursions or picnics along the way.

Rafting the Colorado Whitewater

What about combining a visit that takes in the scenery of the Grand Canyon with the thrills and adrenaline of an epic river rafting trip? The 1450-mile-long Colorado River in the U.S. southwest is known for its epic scenery and its powerful whitewater rapids. The river starts in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, taking in some of Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, passing highlights like the adventure hub of Moab and Lake Powell before snaking through the Grand Canyon and Arizona, and continuing on southwards.

Whether you do a trip for three or four days or two weeks, by taking to the water to tackle the rapids, you can experience some of this magical canyon scenery and the whitewater that the landscape creates. A guided four-day trip in Cataract Canyon, south of Moab, Utah, with Western River Expeditions takes you through a 100-mile-long chasm in a canyon filled with class III and IV rapids, with opportunities for hiking, camping, and campfire meals under the stars as well as the thrills of the whitewater rapids.

The Norwegian Coastal Express

Girl on boat
Image by diGital Sennin

Skip the cruise ships, the best way to see Norway’s fjords is to go on the traditional Coastal Express, the Hurtigruten, a Norwegian shipping route that has been running since 1893. The ships travel the full length of the Norwegian coast from bottom to top, over one week, stopping off at ports all along the way and carrying people, mail, and supplies. The ships run from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north and you can do the whole return trip from Bergen to the top and back over two weeks.

Itineraries can be tailored too. You can plan ahead to join or leave at any stop along the way, and you can book a trip taking anything from two days to weeks, or any number of nights in between. Cabins are cozy and you will learn lots along the way, as well as tucking into Norwegian food. You will be traveling with a company that cares about sustainability and the coastal environment it operates in too—it works to protect the Norwegian coast and oceans and is working on zero-emissions ships.

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