26 October 2016Last updated


Top 10 things to do this summer

While you can sail through the season with triple-strength deodorant, 200-factor sun cream and dreams of snow and ice, if you’re serious about chilling out, Mike Peake offers some options

By Mike Peake
1 Jul 2016 | 12:00 am
  • Source:Getty Images

Surf in Alaska

So you tried bodyboarding off The Palm and right now the thought of being in Hawaii on bigger waves sounds nice. Nice but hot, to be precise: mid-summer temperatures in Honolulu in August can be well over 30°C. The answer is to go surfing someplace really cold, where whales and icebergs hang out, such as the North Pacific.

Ocean Swell Ventures offers a variety of trips off Alaska and has its own boat, a former fishing vessel called M/V Milo, which can take you to lonely shores for surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding or whatever catches your fancy. Go to the Kenai Fjords National Park and you’ll feel like you have the entire ocean to yourself. For the record, the surfing is great.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, start at Dh8,118 on Emirates.


Enjoy a white Christmas in Australia


Thredbo in the Snowy Mountains, about 490km south of Sydney, is a gorgeous alpine ski resort where July and August are among the busiest months of the year. The snow is real, as are the people snowboards; and yes, on July 23-24, they celebrate Christmas in Thredbo. There’s live music, Yuletide feasts and – wait for it – a visit from Santa on a pair of skis.

Stay at the five-star Ski In Ski Out Chalets and you could be in Tignes or Courchevel – until a local opens his mouth, when you’ll be reminded of Crocodile Dundee.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Sydney start at Dh4,843 on Singapore Airlines. Snowy Mountains is a scenic five-hour drive away.


Go on a photo safari in Iceland


This frosty rock settled between the north Atlantic and Arctic Oceans has become such a tourist hotspot that the sage people who govern it are getting nervous. Visitor numbers are rising almost 30 per cent a year – fuelled, in part, by Game Of Thrones fans wanting to see where Jon Snow went beyond the wall – so go now before the powers that be impose a tourist limit.

A great way to get to know Iceland is on a photo safari, also perfect to liven up the living room wall upon your return. UK-based Wild Photography Holidays specialises in small group photographic tours and its Iceland trips often sell out, but it’s definitely worth taking a look, pronto. You’ll visit the vast and remote interior of the country (think waterfalls, canyons and atmospheric vistas) as well as learn the basics of post-production work, meaning you’ll be able to Photoshop a confused-looking polar bear into your snaps if you really want to.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Reykjavik start at Dh4,118 on KLM Royal Dutch.


Play golf under the midnight sun


Sweden has many faces, from the cheery cosmopolitan bustle of Stockholm where cold simply means an extra jumper, to the frozen northern reaches of the Swedish Lapland where winter temperatures make reindeer weep. Its summer is chilly, but bearable in places like the Björkliden golf course, where you can play around the clock. It’s a challenging 18-hole course and the extra layers you’ll be wearing will probably make you glad it’s not any bigger, especially given all the pausing, oohing and aahing you’ll be doing if the Northern Lights come on. You’re in the Arctic Circle surrounded by snow-topped mountains, and heli-skiing is just as popular in August.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Stockholm start at Dh2,460 on Turkish Airlines. Björkliden is in Kiruna, an hour-and-a-half flight away from Stockholm.


Cruise to the North Pole


Few trips can claim to get your adrenaline pumping like a trip to the North Pole, cruising leisurely between magnificent icebergs and experiencing untouched natural beauty. Once you hit ground zero, you’ll be on top of the world – literally – which, if it features on your bucket list – is quite the feat. You need deep pockets to make this happen, but what’s money compared to standing on the North Pole?

You need to book right away if you want to make it on one of the August expeditions, as, at the time of writing, limited spaces were available. Set sail aboard an icebreaker from Murmansk in Russia – an adventure unto itself – and you’ll experience a trip of your lifetime.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Murmansk start at Dh2,590 on Aeroflot.

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Bobsleighing in Norway


Lillehammer is not just the setting of a Netflix gangster comedy-drama, it’s where the 1994 Winter Olympics took place and, earlier this year, where the Winter Youth Olympics were held. The town’s Olympiapark draws a year-round crowd because of its awesome bobsleigh track, and come summer, when temperatures rise to a balmy 20°C, they stick wheels on the sleigh and let any old fool have a go. It costs 250 NOK (Dh110) per adult and you might just hit speeds of 100kph, which means that the only person who gets to hear you scream like a toddler is in the sleigh behind you.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Oslo start at Dh2,583 on British Airways. Lillehammer is about two hours away by train from Oslo Airport.


Bike in the swiss Alps


The Alps are glorious in summer, and while temperatures can rise to sunbathing levels on the valley floors they drop as you climb, which you most certainly will on Sacred Rides’ Alpen Thrills Enduro bike ride in Switzerland. You start in Davos and then head through an area known as Little Tibet, pedalling and soaking up jaw-dropping scenery as you go. While there’s not all that much climbing, it’s definitely hard-going and the trip is best suited to advanced-level riders.

Alternatively, there’s nothing to stop you from flying the family to Geneva, then heading to any ski resort and renting some mountain bikes. Most main towns have heaps of rental shops, and biking tracks abound.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Geneva start at Dh2,805 on Lufthansa. Davos is closer to Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city – about three hours away by train.


Ice climb with a famous guide


Kenton Cool is the man who helped Sir Ranulph Fiennes to get to the top of Mount Everest, yet he’s still available to mere mortals like us. He works with a company called Adventure Base, whose world-class guides can be hired for £400 per day (about Dh2,150), although the price will skyrocket when you tell them you want to go ice climbing in Patagonia or somewhere equally far-flung. If you can afford it, anything is possible, and on technical climbs you’ll need – one-on-one tuition.

Getting there Canmore in the Canadian Rockies is great for novices. Return fares from Dubai to Calgary from Dh6,501 on Air Canada. Canmore is about 100km away by road.


Dog sledding on the Juneau Icefield


The what now? You mean you haven’t heard of the Juneau Icefield, one of Alaska’s most pristine attractions? Its pale-blue glaciers, dotted around like dragon’s teeth, are inviting enough for you to fall head-first into one of the many crevasses that separate them. With a skilled guide, however, you can tour the area safely from the comfort of a dog-pulled sled and get to feel a bit like Leonardo in The Revenant (the exploring the snowy wilderness bit). A family-run company called Alaska Heli-Mush will airlift you by helicopter to be greeted by 200 baying hounds, and every single one of them will be praying to be picked to lead you across the ice.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Anchorage start at Dh8,118 on Emirates. Juneau is an hour’s drive from Anchorage.


Hunt Hobbits in New Zealand


Well, it’s more of a hunting for the scenery that you saw in The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings movies, because apparently hobbits aren’t real. Weather-wise, New Zealand’s north island in July and August is certainly chilly – it’s mid-winter there – though it’s down south that you’ll need the triple layers as large swathes of the island is blanketed in snow. Red Carpet Tours runs 14-day hobbit-hunting trips throughout the year on both islands, taking you to the river where the dwarfs escaped from the elves, the mountains that served as the backdrop to Edoras and even The Shire. Magical.

Getting there Return fares from Dubai to Auckland start at Dh5,547 on Cathay Pacific.


By Mike Peake

By Mike Peake