This blog post was updated on December 18, 2019.
For the averagely inclined and the medium thrill-seekers, modern technology has adapted extreme sports to milder, safer versions of their distant dangerous cousins. The jokes and fun are still there, but it’s unlikely anyone’s going to get harmed. Here are five of the world’s most extreme sports…toned down for the Average Joe and where to find them.
Indoor Skiing – Dubai, United Arab Emirates
When thinking about things to do in Dubai – where the average temperature in the summer is 106°F – few are quick to think skiing. Considering Dubai has also built the world’s tallest structure (the Burj Khalifa) and the world’s only 7-star hotel (the Burj Al Arab), to some, it may come as no surprise that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government successfully built a winter wonderland in the middle of a desert. Though other indoor ski resorts exist, few have dared to build one under such intense conditions, and succeed.
Fittingly dubbed Ski Dubai, this 22,500 square meter ski resort, hosts around 750,000 visitors a year. And for good reason – the resort has 5 slopes for skiing, of varying levels, areas to just play in the snow, and also happens to be attached to a shopping mall.
To maintain the slopes, the complex produces snow at night and relies on one of the most efficient insulation systems in the world to maintain below-freezing temperatures. For those from warmer parts of the world who haven’t had the opportunity to experience winter – let alone ski – Ski Dubai offers snow sports to a winterless crowd. And without the dangerous and unpredictable variations and fluctuations of real mountain skiing, you’re sure to never come face to face with an avalanche. Plus, there are penguins. What more could you want?
Safe Surfing (Flowriding) – Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Anyone who has been to a boardwalk has undoubtedly seen a FlowRider machine. FlowRiders ‘surf’ on waves of water called sheet waves. Powerful pumps project water upwards over the top and the Flowrider uses that energy to surf – kind of like a treadmill made of water. Since their development, Flowriding machines have come a long way, specifically in the size and complexity of their Flowrider machinery. From an increased need for Flowrider fanatics, the company has developed what is known as the FlowBarrel Ten Double, exclusively found on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
The Barrel Ten Double offers users the ability to ride a barrel wave without ending up face forward in a pile of rocks. What’s more, as the waves are engineered, you’re sure to always score a great ride (if you can manage to stay on). Surf’s up in Abu Dhabi, or rather, Flow’s up?
Safe Racing Cars – USA
Some folks have a need for speed, unfortunately, McLaren’s and Lamborghini’s are a bit difficult to come by. And let’s be real, it’s not like you can take a speedster down Main St. going more than 45 mph. For the individuals looking for high-speed and low-risk adrenaline options, renting sports cars on racetracks is now an option. Gotham Dream Cars offers its customers a variety of luxury and exotic cars that they can either rent or pay to drive around a racetrack at top speeds. Cars range from cruising Rolls Royce Phantoms to agile Lamborghini Spyders.
For those looking to live out a childhood dream, host the most awesome bachelor party, or feel like a celebrity, renting a luxury car for an hour is a dream. What’s more, during the entire process you’re not only accompanied by a professional instructor but also required to wear a helmet: The process is thrilling and safe. Vroom vroom, baby.
Rock Climbing – Reno, Nevada
We’re not really sure how and why rock climbing became so pervasive in our day-to-day lives, but as a kid, it seemed like everybody had at least one birthday at a rock climbing wall. This progressed into real mountain climbing for adrenaline junkies, yet the risks of freezing to death, suffering from oxygen deprivation, or tumbling into a rocky demise caused rock climbing to fade away.
For those interested in continuing the sport, however, without ice and with oxygen, BaseCamp in Reno, Nevada offers over 3,200 square feet of climbable surfaces. Like Ski Dubai, there are varying levels of difficulty, but most walls are accompanied by professional climbers and BaseCamp is also home to the world’s tallest climbing wall (164’). Low-risk and high-fun, this rock climbing adventure is sure to get the blood pumping.
Indoor Skydiving (Bodyflight) – Las Vegas, Nevada
Indoor skydiving evolved from a system known as a vertical wind tunnel (VWT). Using powerful turbines and fans, air is pushed through the central column and pushed back upwards to generate a consistent, exhilarating upward thrust. Originally, these tunnels were used for studies in aerodynamics, however, as enterprising Americans do, they realized the appeal of such a device for the general public.
Though there are a number of indoor skydiving facilities across the US, the first recreational indoor skydiving machine opened in Las Vegas, Nevada, and today is still operational under the name Vegas Indoor Skydiving. The VWT has lead to the development of a sport known as Bodyflight, where indoor skydivers do tricks like flips, spins, and bounces. The International Bodyflight Association (IBA) has even formed to help promote the sport and ensure proper safety measures. For those looking for the rush of skydiving without the risk of being smashed into a thousand pieces, indoor skydiving is the thrilling choice.
Pool Scuba Diving – Montegrotto Terme, Italy
Many experienced divers look for difficult and deep dives to test their underwater prowess. For others, the thought of being trapped in an underwater cave with a limited amount of oxygen, light, and room, is the stuff of nightmares. But a happy medium does exist: Pool scuba dives. Mega-pools have been built that go hundreds of feet deep, enabling users to experience safe dives. And the king of these mega-pools is the Deep Joy pool located in Montegrotto Terme, Italy.
The pool descends 40 m deep, earning it the nickname Y-40, and also making it the deepest pool in the world (beating out the Nemo 33 pool in Brussels, which only descends 33 meters). The pool has underwater caves and tunnels for swimmers to explore. The best part? The pool is filled with over 1 million gallons of heated thermal water (used in popular skin products like Avene). Swimmers’ skin is moisturized while they explore the world’s deepest pool at toasty 90 °F – eliminating the need for wet suits.
The pool offers a safe, equally as an adventurous alternative to intense scuba and free-diving ventures, where there is no staff on hand and little regulation. Not only that, but you’re likely to have an audience, as clear walkways and tunnels cut through the pool for guests to view those in the pool. If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a fish in an aquarium, there’s no better place.
Have you ever done any safe extreme sports? Let us know what they were below!