Cancún: Cenote diving
The Yucatán Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico is famous for its turquoise sea, tropical rainforests, Mayan ruins and non-stop parties. Yet below the surface, there is a pearl of nature that can only be experienced by divers: a unique system of underwater caves that stretch for kilometres, with cenotes (swimming holes formed in the limestone bedrock) full of fresh water. Two you must not miss are Dos Ojos (Two Eyes) near Tulum and Ik Kil, which is a two-hour drive from Cancún. There’s fantastic visibility in the crystal-clear water, which is a wonderful 25°C all year round.
The Thai Lounge has excellent fish, seafood and cocktails, all served in little bungalows on stilts over the water.
Narrow, 5m-long sea kayaks are popular in South Africa, especially in Durban where the warm water and accessibility of the Indian Ocean coast create the perfect conditions. There are a number of surfski schools where beginners can learn how to get their sleek craft over the shorebreak and then head along the Golden Mile to ride the swells.
The Danube makes the Austrian capital a favourite destination among swimmers, rowers and sailors. Those seeking more action should check out the 832m cable park, off the Donauinsel (Danube Island), where you can reach heights of up to 10m. It also has kickers and what those in the know call a pipe double roof with wall, with two-hour courses for beginners.
Kletterhalle Wien (the Vienna Climbing Hall) has 600m² of bouldering, a 16m slackline course, and a climbing wall used in the Boulder World Cup.
London: white-water kayaking
Row like a world champ at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, which hosted the kayak slalom event at the 2012 London Olympics. Within easy reach of the capital’s centre, the venue is home to an artificial 300m, Grade 4 white-water slalom course. So climb into a canoe or white-water raft and pit yourself against the rapids. Alternatively, you can watch the action from the terrace bar: from September 16 to 20, Lee Valley will play host to this year’s ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.
Stop off at Old Spitalfields Market for award-winning fish and chips, before experiencing some classic theatre at Shakespeare’s Globe by the Thames.
Berlin: Clubs & Parties
These days, New York has a rival for the title of ‘the city that never sleeps’. With more than 300 clubs and 7,000 bars, Berlin has a nightlife that no other metropolis can match. Many of the German capital’s underground joints, such as Berghain (a converted power station in Friedrichshain that’s regarded as the world’s best techno club), open on Friday night and continue through till Monday morning. And if that’s not enough for you, you’re bound to find an afterparty a couple of streets away.
Flick through the racks at the Hard Wax record store, and book a room at the arty Michelberger Hotel, where many of the big-name DJs stay when in town.
Cork: cold water surfing
Ireland’s south-west corner provides year-round surfing, despite the fact that the water temperature rarely rises above 15°C. The endless sandy beaches and the swells, which will challenge even veteran winter-wave chasers, make up for it.
Inchydoney’s waves are perfect for beginners, while pros will be tested at Garrettstown and Red Strand.
Pula: Summer Festivals
In 2006, there was one electronic music festival on the Croatian coast, attended by 300 people. There are now 20, which draw more than 100,000 revellers every summer. Why? Sunshine, beaches, boat parties, and spectacular venues including caves and amphitheatres, that’s why.
Fresh Island (July 15-17, Zrce Beach), Soundwave (August 6-10, Tisno), Dimensions (August 26-30, Pula).
Paris: Boulder climbing
The birthplace of bouldering can be found just 55km south of the French capital, in the 25,000-hectare forest of Fontainebleau. The largest continuous stretch of forest in western Europe, Fontainebleau is the site of bizarre sandstone formations that have been a bouldering hotspot since the 1870s. A numerical and colour-coded system groups the 15,000 rocks into varying levels of difficulty.
In July and August, a section of the right bank of the Seine is transformed into an urban sandy beach, complete with bars, palm trees and deck chairs.
La Paz: Golf
The air is so thin at the world’s highest golf course, situated in the Bolivian capital some 3,291m above sea level, that even amateur golfers turn into long hitters.
If you’re feeling brave, take a drive down the 65km Yungas Road, considered to be the most dangerous road on Earth.
France’s surfing hotspot can be found in the south-west of the country. Local surfers and top international riders alike tackle the barrels at La Grande Plage and La Côte des Basques (the latter is particularly popular with longboarders) in Biarritz at all times of year.