Lonely Planet Writer

A US research company picks the best spots for adventure across 50 states

If you’re looking for a last-minute outdoor adventure in the United States this summer – then Hawaii should officially top your list. In a survey of every major resort across the fifty states, research firm Resonance found that all three of the best destinations for adventure were islands in the Aloha State. They looked at the variety of outdoor activities available, and how they ranked … from fishing charters to kayaking, and extreme tours to scenic drives.

Hawaii tops the list for outdoor adventure this summer
Kailua Beach and Kailua Bay, Hawaii. Photo by: Tony Shi Photography GettyRF

Top spot was taken by Hawaii’s most populous island Oahu which the survey said had “an enviable balance of seemingly infinite coastline, exploding topography” and so many activities that a lot of visitors do not even bother to go island-hopping. Ranked second was the neighbouring isle of Maui, while in third was the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Resonance said the Big Island of Hawaii’s high ranking had “everything to do with its designation as one of the most climatically diverse places on the planet. Visitors can experience (read: play in) four out of the world’s five major climate zones,” they said, “and as you’d expect from a place that almost gives you the world in a day, the few visitors who venture to this youngest of the Hawaiian Islands can’t wait to share their discovery.”

Tampa and St Petersburg scored high in the boating stakes
Sunshine Bridge at Tampa Bay and St Petersburg, Florida at sunset Photo by Visions of America/ UIG via Getty Images

Among the best activities, there are diving, with snuba adventures (snorkelling with an on-boat air supply), as well as opportunities to walk on lava fields. Some destinations scored highly for their specialities with eighth-ranked Tampa and St Petersburg particularly popular for boating activities.

Another city in Florida, Miami was particularly popular not just for its waterfront but also the opportunity to day trip in the Everglades. Of the top ten, all but one were in Hawaii, Florida, and California. Coming in tenth however, was Charleston in South Carolina where history and the water combine with a huge variety of harbour tours, kayaking trips, and adventure parks.

Everglades National Park, Florida
Everglades National Park, Florida. Image by: Romrodphoto/ShutterstockRF

Top 20:

1. Oahu Island, Hawaii 2. Maui Island, Hawaii 3. Hawaii Island, Hawaii 4. San Diego, California  5. Destin, Florida 6. Miami, Florida 7. Orange County, California 8. Tampa, St Petersburg, Florida 9. Naples, Florida 10. Charleston, South Carolina 11. Fort Lauderdale, Florida 12. Las Vegas, Nevada 13. New York 14. San Francisco, California 15. Sarasota, Florida 16. Fort Myers, Florida 17. Virginia Beach, Virginia 18. Seattle, Washington 19. Chicago, Illinois 20. Monterey, California