Zip lines: check. Whitewater rafting: check. Skiing: check. Subterranean trampolines: check! It’s safe to say, March is a dream month for thrill-seekers.
And with destinations ranging from classics like Costa Rica and New Zealand to rising stars such as North Wales, your perfect high-octane escape awaits...
For outdoor activities among daffodils and spring lambs head to North Wales
Springtime in Wales: lambs gambol on hillsides sprinkled with clusters of butter-yellow daffodils. For once, reality matches cliché – though sunshine is never guaranteed here, the Welsh countryside is glorious in March, which is a great time to dust off wintry cobwebs and explore some of the UK’s less-visited countryside.
The Dee Valley is a year-round destination for active adventures – the River Dee being one of the few that offers great whitewater year-round, with rafting, kayaking, bodyboating, even stand-up paddleboarding provide adrenaline highs. This region, including the Clwydian Range to the north, is packed with attractions and activities – hikes to ruined Castell Dinas Brân and Thomas Telford’s Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a ride on the steam-drawn Llangollen Railway, and zip lines, cave trampolines and an artificial surf wavegarden in Snowdonia just to the west.
- Trip plan: Llangollen makes a great base for an active break in the Dee Valley and Clwydian Range; Snowdonia is 20 miles (32 km) west.
- Need to know: There’s no train station at Llangollen – the nearest railway stop is 6 miles (10km) away at Chirk.
- Other months: Mar-Oct – spring to autumn, driest, warmest; Nov-Feb – cold, short days.
For late-season skiing, Tyrol in Austria, is one of the top spots
Spring doesn’t have to signal the end of skiing – at least in the high resorts of the Austrian Tyrol region. The valleys south and west of Innsbruck – the Stubaital, Ötztal, Tuxertal and Paznauntal, in particular – are blessed with glaciers and high, north-facing slopes that hold the snow well into March and beyond. There’s variety here, too: the pretty, traditional village of Obergurgl has pistes suitable for beginners and intermediates, while nearby Sölden has more challenging runs and two glaciers, guaranteeing skiing into May; high-level Ischgl is known for its great terrain park and lively aprés-ski, while the slopes of the Stubaital include good off-piste options as well as traditional groomed runs. Oh, and the food and drink is high-calibre, too.
- Trip plan: The international airport at Innsbruck, capital of the Tyrol, is well served by flights from across Europe, with good transport links to the resorts.
- Need to know: If you absolutely, positively have to ski all year, Hintertux is the place to head – skiing on the glacier is possible 365 days.
- Other months: Dec-Apr – ski season (some ski areas open to May); Jun-Sep – great hiking; May & Oct-Nov – cooler.
Enjoy late-summer kayaking, swimming and sailing action in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands
Flecked with 144 jade outcrops, the stretch of water embraced by Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula is a marine playground. And March is a great month in which to roam its coves and inlets, without the crowds of high summer but still in long, warm days. However well you think you know New Zealand’s history, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds just north of Paihia, where Queen Victoria’s representative signed the important (and controversial) agreement with 43 Māori chiefs, are a fascinating place to visit.
But get out on the water to get the most from your trip: kayak on calm waters, sail among the islands on the tall ship R Tucker Thompson, or take a dip with the dolphins – the bottlenose and common varieties are year-round residents of the bay, while orca and various whales visit at various times.
- Trip plan: Paihia is the base for exploring the bay, with ample accommodation, eating and drinking options and activities providers, all close to the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds. It’s a three-hour drive north of Auckland.
- Need to know: Swimming with dolphins isn’t permitted when a pod has young calves – which can be at any time of year.
- Other months: Dec-Mar – crowded; Apr-May – also pleasant; Jun-Aug – winter; Sep-Nov – weather unpredictable.
Explore coast, cloud forest, volcanoes and whitewater rivers in Costa Rica
A tiny country with a huge range of landscapes and wildlife, Costa Rica also has plenty of weather – hence the lush rainforests. Come in March to hit the dry(er) season on both Pacific and Caribbean coasts and in the highlands (though showers are always likely). It’s also after the peak US holiday period, so crowds are thinner.
The biggest challenge is deciding what to do first: climb up and then zip line down the slopes of Arenal Volcano? Spot dazzling birdlife at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve? Watch monkeys, sloths and iguanas in Manuel Antonio National Park, or caimans and manatees from a boat in Tortuguero National Park? Raft the whitewaters of the Pacuare River or surf the breaks? Tour a coffee plantation or just loll on a Caribbean beach?
- Trip plan: Road distances between attractions are usually short in this compact country – a loop from capital San José, taking in Arenal, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio is comfortable in a week or so. Add more time to visit the Caribbean coast.
- Need to know: Come prepared with insect repellent, heavy-duty sunscreen and an awareness of challenging driving conditions.
- Other months: Dec-Apr – driest; May-Nov – wet, with regional variations, cheapest (Jun-Jul: slight lull in rain).
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.